Woodland fungi

Episode 16: Poisonous Plants with Dr Elizabeth Dauncey

Roots and All Podcast Episode 16 – Poisonous Plants with Dr Liz Dauncey

Have you ever wondered which are the most poisonous plants in your house and garden? Do you know how plant toxins work and how to handle poisonous plants safely? What are we, as gardeners, most at risk of when dealing with our beloved plants? And which risks are sometimes blown out of proportion?

Join me as I speak to botanist Dr Liz Dauncey about poisonous plant facts, myths and interesting cases. And if you’re particularly fascinated by the macabre and want to find out the most gruesome way to go, plus which poisons are untraceable, listen on!

About Dr Elizabeth A. Dauncey

Liz is a botanist with a PhD in Plant Taxonomy during which she undertook a taxonomic revision of Dendrobium section Pedilonum, a group of orchids from South-East Asia. She spent most of her career as a botanical toxicologist working for the Poisons Unit of Guy’s & St Thomas’ Hospital in London, on joint initiatives with the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Her work involved developing strategies and products to reduce the number of poisoning incidents involving plants, and to improve the identification of plants by treatment centres. She worked with the Horticultural Trades Association on their ‘Harmful?’ campaign that introduced a list of 117 plants on sale in garden centres that should carry warnings on their pot labels. Liz subsequently spent four years with Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services, which enables effective communication about medicinal plants in health, regulation and research. She now works freelance, writing books, providing information and advice about plant toxicity, and undertaking poisonous plant surveys.

Liz is author of Poisonous Plants: A Guide for Parents and Childcare Providers (Kew Publishing, 2010) and co-author of Plants That Kill: A Natural History of the World’s Most Poisonous Plants (Kew Publishing, 2018). Plants That Kill is now also available in German, Dutch, Italian and Japanese! She is currently co-authoring a follow-on book called Plants That Cure, due to be published in 2020, which looks in particular at the plants from which pharmaceutical drugs have been developed. There are also plans for a revised and updated edition of her Poisonous Plants guide that will be expanded to include plants that are poisonous to pets.

Links:

Poisonous Plants: A Guide for Parents and Childcare Providers (Kew Publishing, 2010) – out of print at the publisher but still available online: Buy Here

Plants That Kill: A Natural History of the World’s Most Poisonous Plants (Kew Publishing, 2018) – widely available, buy through the Kew bookshop here 

Horticultural Trades Association – Code of practice for potentially harmful plants, downloadable list

Kew’s Medicinal Plant Names Services – plant name portal

Twitter – @liz_dauncey

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