Very nasty mystery plant

Conrad Richter 71550.3411 at
Mon Jul 25 09:56:47 EST 1994

This is from an article published local newspaper (Toronto Star, July 23, 
1994).  The original article was published in the Observer.  Does anybody 
know the plant referred to?

  "There is a grotesque South African shrub that produces an exotic 
  acid that kills all air-breathing organisms except the plant that 
  makes it.  It was studied and developed into a (somewhat dangerous
  and rarely used) pesticide.  In 1963, a factory accidently spilled 
  some in southern England, killing cattle and causing panic. 
     "A young scientist in London wondered if there might be a microbe
  that could mop up the stuff.  He paused by the Thames, picked up 
  some mud and started testing within for a microbe that flourished 
  in the chemical.  Within a week, he had found one.  By that time, 
  the authorities had dug all the topsoil up and buried it, but the 
  microbe exists in Britain's National Collection of Industrial 

Clearly, this plant is pretty nasty.  I would appreciate email 
replies because, coincidently, I off for a 4 week plant collection 
trip to Africa this week and I might miss the posting.

Conrad Richter
Goodwood, ON
71550.3411 at

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