Saturday, October 8, 2016

Hidden Danger

After a long hiatus, I'm back. I almost decided to drop Wild Saunter due to lack of interest on both sides (writer & reader). We'll see how it goes. 

I thought this plant currently blooming in our woods was interesting. Maybe you will, too. 

One of the last species to bloom in autumn, White Snakeroot (Ageratina altissima) is a poisonous wildflower in the Aster family. Its aromatic blossoms are visited by a variety of late season insects. Generally avoided by deer, White Snakeroot contains a toxin that is poisonous to livestock, especially in overgrazed areas where there's little else to eat. The plant's toxin can be passed to humans through consuming either the meat or milk of an affected animal. Unaware of this plant's properties, many pioneers settling in the Appalachians in the 18th & early 19th centuries died as a result. This "milk sickness" was probably the cause of death for Abraham Lincoln's mother in 1818. Native people used the powerful plant medicinally in small amounts.


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