First: Last week, I was fielding calls from local media about the difference between hemlock and cilantro and the possibility of getting them mixed up in the garden or in the field. This came up because a local farmer recalled cilantro after seeing wild hemlock sprouting in his fields and realizing that he had a less-experienced picker working at that end of the field.
It would be surprisingly easy to confuse hemlock with, say, chervil. Or parsley, or dill, or any number of carrot family relatives. So–yeah. Be careful out there.
Second: In other local news, a tragic shooting in Mendocino County also led to a call from the local media. Sadly, stories of people stumbling into outdoor marijuana grows on public land or private timber company land are all too common, and they do end in shootings–these grows are guarded by people with guns, not laid-back hippies enjoying the sunshine. In this case, though, the victim stumbled into an opium grow. Except–there were only a hundred opium poppies in evidence. Sounds more like Grandma's garden than a drug operation.
Apparently local authorities were saying that no one grows opium poppies in California, so I went to great pains to assure the reporter that gardeners often grow opium poppies, that both the seeds and the plants are readily available, that they are lovely flowers and easy to find around here. (In case you're curious: Opium poppies, papaver somniferum, are illegal to grow. The seeds may be bought, sold, possessed–because we use them in baking–but as soon as they germinate, you're a criminal.)
Third: Spotted in Montreal: A glorious bed of poisonous castor bean! At the Starbucks! Venti half-caf double ricin, anyone?Amy Stewart on September 28, 2011 at 4:33 am, in the category Uncategorized.