TOXIC - contains Monkshood (Aconitum napellus), Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus), Deadly Nightshade (Atropa balladonna) and Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger). My seed balls all contain a natural pest repellant so that birds and mammals dislike them, and will not try and eat them.
These seed balls are an ideal Christmas/Yule gift and the answer to the problem of seeds containing germination inhibitors which have to go through a process of cold stratification before they germinate. It's not as complicated as it sounds - see additional info for more on these poison plants and how to care for them. (A tiny scroll containing instructions is also included in the coffin box)
Basically these seed balls - or 'baubles', since it's the festive season! - can be kept in the fridge to experience a fake winter, then planted out in spring, meaning they make wonderful winter gifts. They're covered in biodegradable eco-glitter, for a touch of magic (this will come off and start to degrade very quickly), and they're packaged in acid-free, recycled tissue paper in a black coffin box. They also come with an information scroll, unlike my other seed balls, tied with a red ribbon.
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Poison Festive Seed 'Baubles'
Monkshood (Aconitum napellus) - TOXIC. Also known as Wolfsbane, this beautiful blue bloom contains the toxin aconite which is a neurotoxin and cardiotoxin so handle with care. In Greek mythology the Goddess Hecate is said to have invented aconite, and it's thought that it grew from the saliva of Cerberus, the three-headed hound which guarded the gates of Hades.
Stinking Hellebore (Helleborus foetidus) - TOXIC. Hellebores are from the same family as Wolfsbane - the Ranunculaceae - and Hellebore is an ingredient in 'Potion No. 86' from the Harry Potter stories. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and symptoms of intoxication include violent vomiting and delirium. Hellebore was therefore an ingredient in the legendary “witches' flying ointment” and it has a long association with witchcraft.
Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna) - TOXIC. Perhaps one of the most famous poisonous plants, the word 'atropa' means "to cut" indicating this plant will cut the thread of life short in an instant. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic as they contain alkaloids such as scopolamine and hyoscyamine which cause delerium and hallucinations. (This is why they were also an ingredient in “witches' flying ointment”.) In 1915, gardener Henry G. Walters - who liked to attribute human emotions to plants - described the deadly nightshade as “filled with hatred”
Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) - TOXIC. Henbane is a plant from the same family as Deadly Nightshade - the Solanaceae - and is also extremely psycoactive. It, too, was an ingredient in “witches' flying ointment” but in addition, according to Dominican Friar Albertus Magnus, it was used by necromancers to invoke the souls of the dead, and demons. According to visitors at Alnwick's Poison Garden in Northumberland, Henbane's effects are so potent it has caused people to faint when simply standing near the plant on warm days.