BrownhillsBob's #365daysofbiking

On a bike, riding somewhere. Every day, rain or shine.

Posts tagged ‘poison’

#365daysofbiking What lies beneath

July 7th – It was indeed a better day. The sun was out, the wind had subsided as had the discomfort in my stomach.

I headed out on the canal to Wolverhampton, taking a slow but enjoyable potter down the mainline canal to Birmingham. From there to Aston, where I left the canal and got on a train back to Shenstone.

I noted the Dudley Tourist Board had been working hard to improve it’s customer service at Coseley Tunnel, where I doubt I’ll ever negotiate the southern portal steps with a bike again, although it was certainly an adventure.

Calling at the heavily secured, ghostly Rattlechain Pool, the lagoon concealing many thousands of tonnes of the worst toxic waste was a strange experience: It looks so serene and peaceful, yet the pool – itself just a cap to the material beneath, separated by a thick impermeable skin – is securely fenced and covered by many cameras.

It’s a ghostly and controversial place.

Under the M5 viaduct and Telford’s magnificent Engine Arm aqueduct, the canal is a peaceful, gentle and serene refuge from the mad urbanity above, and the street art is, as ever, fascinating.

Passing on the canal down the Snow Hill flight, I see the view is a matter of opinion. But why? What’s that all about?

A great restorative ride.

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May 23rd – I’m glad to say the sun and warm weather over the last few days has rejuvenated a blossom I thought had died this year with barely a whimper; laburnum or golden chain began flowering weeks ago, but petered out, I assume due to the climate.

Today, it was bright, lush and clear, and one can see why it was planted so much in the postwar years – a truly beautiful blossom. Sadly, the seed pods are very, very toxic and after several child poisonings by ingestion, many of these beautiful trees were cut down for public safety.

Those that remain though – especially examples like this one planted to contrast with neighbouring species at Shelfied – are very, very beautiful.

July 3rd – Ragwort, or stinking willie, is currently abundant in scrubs, verges, towpaths and edge lands throughout the area. It’s a lovely yellow plant that really isn’t appreciated as much as it should be. Although quite poisonous to some creatures (including horses) it’s not a serious danger to humans, and is so beautiful sunny and yellow.

It may be a week, but like dandelions, it’s one of the most beautiful plants of the summer.

May 21st – Laburnum, or golden chain is one of the most beautiful blossoms of the British spring. Vivid yellow green, hanging in strings like some fluorescent downpour, it used to be a lot more prolific than it is today.

There used to be loads of this tree growing in parks, gardens and public spaces – but it hides a deadly secret. 

The seeds of this beautiful tree are deadly toxic, and after several accidental child poisoning incidents in the 80s, many of the trees were cut down for reasons of public safety.

Fortunately, some remain, like this example on the canal between the towpath and the cemetery at Bentley Bridge in Walsall.

September 3rd – Arum Maculatum is a common sight in hedgerows and woods at this time of year. Known variously as Wild arum, Lords and Ladies, Devils and Angels, Cows and Bulls, Cuckoo-Pint, Adam and Eve and even Naked Boys, it’s a very unusual plant which sheds it’s foliage before fruiting leaving a 6 to 12 inch high column of bright orange-red berries. These berries are highly poisonous and this is the plant responsible for most hospital admissions due to accidental ingestion in the UK.

The berries contain a toxin which makes the oral tract tingle, and causes sickness and swelling of the throat. Always avoid touching it, although the temptation to do so us great, it has an almost artificial appearance that renders it grimly fascinating.

What always worries me about this plant is that it’s at a perfect height, and so brightly attractive, that young kids may be drawn to it. What yours if you’re out walking.

This example is growing, along with lots of others, on the riverbank near the Arrow Valley cycle path in Redditch.

August 26th – It is time again for the annual warning: there’s a killer in the hedgerows right now. These stalks of bright orange-red berries grow in hedges, woodlands and other scrub, and grow 6-10 inches tall. Very distinctive, Lords and Ladies is very attractive, particularly to kids, but is one of the most toxic plants in the British Isles. These examples were growing in the hedgerows of Hamstall Ridware and Hoar Cross.

The berries of Arum Maculatum, also known as Devils and Angels, Cuckoo Pint or Wild Arum contain a poison that causes swelling of the mouth and throat and sickness. Fatality is rare, as the berries are very acid and consuming enough to kill would be a challenge, but the plant causes most admissions to A&E for plant poisoning in the UK.

It’s a gorgeous thing to look at, just don’t touch it. This one worries me, as it grows at a height such that small kids spot straight away, and the beautiful colour is very attractive to them. Be careful.

August 16th – It is time again for the annual warning: there’s a killer in the hedgerows right now. These stalks of what will become bright red berries grow in hedges, woodlands and other scrub, and grow 6-10 inches tall. Very distinctive, Lords and Ladies is very attractive, particularly to kids, but is one of the most toxic plants in the British Isles. This still ripening example is growing on the woodland water margin of the River Arrow in Redditch.
The berries of Arum Maculatum, also known as Devils and Angels, Cuckoo Pint or Wild Arum contain a poison that causes swelling of the mouth and throat and sickness. Fatality is rare, as the berries are very acid and consuming enough to kill would be a challenge, but the plant causes most admissions to A&E for plant poisoning in the UK.
It’s a gorgeous thing to look at, just don’t touch it, and keep small children away.

June 13th – Foxglove is one of those odd flowers steeped in half-truth and folklore. I spotted this lone one this evening as I winched myself up Shire Oak Hill near Sandhills.Poisonous? Yes, very. Deadly? Can be, particularly the young leaves. Beautiful? Certainly. I adore foxgloves. They should never be picked, and children should be taught to avoid them, but they have great medicinal use, as well as having the more sinister reputation that once christened them ‘dead mans bells’. Digitalis produces medically active compounds that can be made into cardiac drugs, and also a steroid used in the detection of DNA and RNA. Truly a remarkable plant.