October 14, 2011 | Ellen Hertzman, Former Manager of Volunteer Experience

Scary season is fast approaching, and we have no end of odd, creepy, and downright frightening plants for you to enjoy!

Dinosaur kale is an eye-catching addition to the landscape that can also be eaten! See it in the border north side of Monet Pond and elsewhere. Also in the crazy veg department, these ornamental cucumbers are for show only, but definitely provoke conversation.

Fiery Celosia is a colorful annual that comes in many shapes and sizes, including this spiky variety. Find this one in the All-America Selections Garden.

Another devil of a plant is the hop vine (Humulus), both for its role as a key ingredient in beer, but also because it can cause an inferno-like rash on the body of those who harvest it bare handed!

Aconitum napellus has a number of common names, among them monk’s hood, for its appearance, and wolfbane or leopard’s bane, presumably for its poisonous properties. All parts of this good-looking plant are toxic, and even casual contact can lead to numbness or tingling in some people. Eating any part of this plant will assure you of a very unpleasant and uncomfortable demise. Look at—but don’t touch!—this plant along the Perennial Walkway.

Castor bean (Ricinus communis) is another gorgeous plant with a deadly secret: it is the source of the notorious toxin ricin. Only the seeds are poisonous, but 3 or 4 are enough to kill a person. The plant is also the source of castor oil, commonly spooned into children in the old days to ward off a number of ills. Admire castor bean in the border north of Monet Pond.


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