Article: Bleeding Hearts: What Secrets Do They Hold Inside Their Blossoms? : Toxicity of Dicentra Spectablis.

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Image Bleeding Hearts: What Secrets Do They Hold Inside Their Blossoms?
By Larry Rettig on August 17, 2010

Perhaps you remember from your own childhood—or that of a friend or relative—the art of making “dolls” wearing gowns fashioned from Hollyhock blossoms. Flower shapes and colors can remind us of real-life objects. Dutchman’s Pipe, Lady’s Slipper Orchid, and Stella d’Oro (Italian for “star of gold”) come to mind. Bleeding Heart (Lamprocapnos spectabilis) belongs to this group as well, but its blossoms are special because they reveal an entire story. This is how it’s told.

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ImageNEILMUIR1
Aug 16, 2010 11:39 PM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Bleeding Hearts or Dicentra spectablis, have known to be toxic to animals and Humans for a long time. To some people they can be a skin irritant and although they do not affect me I do know some people that are affected badly by them. There is more information here http://www.uvm.edu/~pass/perry/oh63harm.html
Regards.
Neil.
ImageLarryR
Aug 17, 2010 8:36 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Thanks for the heads-up, Neil. I've added a note to the article.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
Weedwhacker
Aug 22, 2010 5:53 AM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Michigan UP (Zone 4b or 5a)
Just about everything I grow is on that list!

I loved the story, Larry, makes me anxious for my Bleeding Hearts to bloom again next year.
"I am still learning"~~ Michelangelo
National Gardening Association
ImageLarryR
Aug 22, 2010 11:03 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Thanks for writing, Sandy. Glad you liked the story.

I sometimes think that the gardening world overdoes it a bit when it comes to warnings about toxic plants or those that are invasive. I know that it's better to be safe than sorry, but I fear it keeps some gardeners from growing and enjoying beautiful, garden-worthy plants.

Toxic and invasive are relative terms. Of course we should avoid plant parts that cause serious illness or even death, but there are many plants, now branded toxic, that may not affect some persons at all or may simply cause mild stomach upset. "Invasive" is also relative. The degree of invasiveness often depends on growing conditions. A plant may be invasive in my garden, but not in yours. Yes, there are thugs like Kudzu, Garlic Mustard, or some types of Lythrum, but if a gardener is conscientious, the behavior of a potentially invasive plant will be watched closely.

OK, I'll get off my soapbox now. Smiling
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
Weedwhacker
Aug 22, 2010 11:14 AM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Michigan UP (Zone 4b or 5a)
Hilarious!
I thought that was a pretty good soapbox speech! Weeds are another topic along the same line -- some of them are really pretty lovable!
"I am still learning"~~ Michelangelo
National Gardening Association
ImageNEILMUIR1
Aug 22, 2010 11:59 AM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Larry, i am fully aware that there are a lot of Toxic plants that are listed that are indeed relatively harmless to some people, but not to others. The person I know who Bleeding heart really does hurt, does not have to ingest it at all, they just have to brush against it or touch it. Then their skin goes mad and they end up in severe pain. The same thing happens to those in Horticulture who grow bedding for the Parks Department. Due to sheer volume they handle, especially geraniums, for some reason after a couple of years if they get touched by a single hair off the leaves their skin erupts.
Whilst doing my Apprenticeship for seven years I went to college for five years of that once a week, I was asked by the Parks Department to study Toxicology as part of my course. The reason was because the Councils own Landscape Architects had no idea about plants at all, and indeed still don't. It took the unfortunate death of a small child to wake them up that some plants are poisonous. This terrible incident could have been avoided if the Landscape Architect had, had someone to ask. Instead he just put some climbing Solanum's around the corners of a children's playground. That is not wise to say the least. I would never say don't grow anything to anyone, it is just nice to know that some plants are pretty but can also be quite harmful. Most of it is commonsense, but people see things like Aconitum in the Gardening magazines and buy it, this is not a good idea if you have youngsters around as all parts of the plants are lethal. It does not tell you in the Gardening catalogs that a US T.V. presenter died recently whilst on a camping trip because he ate a tiny bit of it!
Weedwhacker, there is no such thing as a weed, it is simply a plant in the wrong place.
Have you ever seen a weeping ash, well you have now.
Regards.
Neil.
Thumb of 2010-08-22/NEILMUIR1/a9fd14
Weedwhacker
Aug 22, 2010 12:11 PM CST
Name: Sandy B.
Michigan UP (Zone 4b or 5a)
Neil, that is a beautiful tree! Do you have the Emerald Ash Borer in the UK? I should have looked it up before posting because I'm not sure where it actually originated, but at any rate it's wreaking havoc with our ash trees.

I believe I'm going to have to look for a list of totally nontoxic plants, although I suspect it will be quite short! I believe tomato leaves are toxic, and rhubarb leaves are as well. I suppose it's a wonder so many humans have been able to survive over the years to overpopulate the planet as they have. And it would certainly be a good idea for all parents to teach their children not to eat anything that's growing outside unless they get the okay from a trusted adult (and I guess the TV presenter never learned that, either -- do you know who it actually was??)
"I am still learning"~~ Michelangelo
National Gardening Association
ImageNEILMUIR1
Aug 22, 2010 2:23 PM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Weedwhacker, I cannot remember the persons name. I am useless at remembering peoples names, just plant names I can remember. My Admin person on Cottage Gardens had bought some Aconitum from a catalog and I warned her about them as she has a three year old granddaughter staying with her. They are often called by the common name of Wolfsbane and have been used as a poison since time immemorial! The story was this healthy man went out camping and added a small amount of the plant to his stew, and it killed him, which it would. All Solanums are poisonous, this includes Solanum esculentum the tomato and Solanum tuberosum the potato. Don't eat green potatos. We are issued with a book over here, that shows all Toxic plants and the danger, it is not intended to stop anyone growing anything, it just has the first part on the danger to Agricultural animals and then Humans. For instance there is a mass problem with Acorns killing wild Ponies in the New forest (1066 AD), so why it is called new is beyond me. The simple cure is to put Pigs in the forest as they are immune to Acorns and indeed love to eat them.Taxus baccata or yew will kill a human stone dead as it is contains 13 alkaline poisons, 11 of which are not yet known by us and there is no known cure, yet Deer are immune to it and eat it.
It is just commonsense that if you do have a plant or plants that can be harmful, then educate people how to handle them and teach children to stay away. That is sometimes easier said than done though.
The Ash was planted in 1854 and is indeed beautiful, whilst doing my latest Article on Crystal Palace I also found a weeping Hornbeam, the Victorians loved this sort of thing.
My Article is at http://cubits.org/Neil/articles/view/594/
Regards.
Neil.
p.s we do not yet have the Ash borer in the UK.
ImageLarryR
Aug 22, 2010 11:00 PM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
Neil--I agree that education is the key.
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/
ImageNEILMUIR1
Aug 23, 2010 5:21 AM CST
Name: Neil
London\Kent Border
Dear Larry, I feel most guilty at invading your Article. But it is about education and commonsense. You do not need a University Degree like I have; your grandmother taught your mother who told you, don't eat that, or don't touch that as it is nasty or poisonous, that is what it is about. There was a classic case whilst I was at University, we were told to cut down a lot of Heracleum mantegazzianum or Giant Hogweed. Not a lot was known about this plant then, apart from it suddenly was wiping out our own Native flora. We did not know that the sap if it gets on your skin and the sun hits it causes massive blisters. Unaware of this some people were given the job of cutting down this massive plant and others the job of stacking it. Half way through the day the sun came out and those cutting it were complaining. It affects lighter haired people first, but can affect anyone. I had taken my motocross bike through the woods and was stacking with gloves on, a lot of people were not so lucky. Suddenly, on some people blisters the size of a Human palm appeared, and my lecturer asked me to go back and get some help. We did not have mobile phones then, so I got back to University and rang the Ambulance. They came and were horrified, 21 students and my lecturer, were taken to Hospital. Trouble was the Ambulance crews and the paramedics had no idea what to do, neither did the Hospital. My friend was blond and he suffered terribly, so they flew him in the Air Ambulance up to London. It took a long time for the Doctors to work out how a plant could do this, but they did. This member of the carrot family can take away the Humans skins ability against ultra violet light, so your skin just burns.
If only we had known.
Now it has spread to America, as some people decided to grow it for its size and stature, that is sad.
Look at these http://www.dcnr.state.pa.us/forestry/invasivetutorial/giant_...
http://dermnetnz.org/dermatitis/plants/giant-hogweed.html
Bit of Education and this may not have happened!
Regards.
Neil.
ImageLarryR
Aug 23, 2010 11:20 AM CST
Name: Larry Rettig
South Amana, IA
No problem, Neil. Thanks again for the education. Smiling
Cottage-in-the-Meadow Gardens: Come on in and take the tour! Check out the photos!
As a gardener: When planning for a year, I plant corn. When planning for decades, I plant trees. When planning for life, I train and educate people.


Website: https://cottageinthemeadow.plantfans.com/

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