Friday, August 28, 2015

Beautiful Poison

I noticed this plant earlier this year, and as I usually do, let it grow until I could know what it was. Yesterday, when I was weeding in my garden, I started to pull out the vines which have beautiful, tiny purple and yellow flowers, and wide, heart-shaped leaves.

I stopped, thinking about how beautiful a vine it could be if I just let it grow on my fence. I decided to get an ID before ripping it all out. It turns out it is woody nightshade, a close relative of deadly nightshade or belladonna. While not as deadly as the more familiar belladonna, it is also toxic to humans and animals. When broken, it weeps a sticky, smelly sap. It has medicinal properties which have grown out of use.

As long as it is not eaten, it is safe. For a brief moment of insanity I considered leaving it, even knowing that it has the habit of overtaking gardens, simply because it is so pretty.

It made me think about what that could mean for my garden. This is the first year for this garden, and it has already started producing abundantly for me, unlike my first garden. Most of the plants I have for eating are not nearly as pleasant to look at as the nightshade.

The analogy to things of the heart and spirit is pretty transparent. There are so many things that look beautiful and compelling. Even after we discover they are dangerous, we still hold onto them, hoping that we won't have to pay the consequences for keeping them around. Sometimes it's hard to identify what is dangerous and what is simply beautiful.

I have many beliefs which may eventually poison my heart. Do you have any concept or hope in your heart that might prove to be poison?


  1. I recently saw some Morning Glory or Vine Weed seeds for sale at a home improvement store. I could not believe that anyone would intentionally plant that stuff in their garden. Sure it has kind of pretty flowers, but when it gets a grip in your yard it is extremely difficult to get rid of. It sends roots down deep into the ground where it spreads and is not killed by RoundUp. When it finally comes above ground it has already spread considerably below ground. Sometimes when people realize the spiritual harm caused by certain behaviors or habits a great deal of damage is already done, and in a way it is too late to return to "normal".

    1. Morning Glory is different from Bind Weed or wild morning glory. Regular Morning Glory won't take over, choke out or otherwise damage your garden. The other stuff is terrible--I once asked a master gardener how to get rid of it, she said, "Spray with Roundup, wait two weeks, then move!" We had a good laugh.

  2. Dave, that is exactly how I feel about muscari, too. Awful stuff.


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