Very nasty mystery plant

Oliver Sparrow ohgs at
Wed Jul 27 02:21:44 EST 1994

Sounds like the Deadly Upas Tree, that Killeth all Travellers who Sleep
beneath is Boughs. There have been many rumous of wildly toxic, carnivorous
or narcotic predatory plants but nobody over an inch tall has every found one
that mattered to humans! I suspect this is a nonsense.

South African specialists can confirm or refute this, but I do not believe
that there is a shrub which has the properties listed. There are many 
insecticidal plants - often working through subtle homone analogues and the
like - but blanket killers of "all air-breathing organisms" would be something
that would have caught the general interest of those who write professionally 
on these topics. They would have to have done so for the news story to make
sense: someone would have to farm, gather, process this gunk. Would they do
it in Britain or the country of origin? 

Internal evidence makes the story incredible: who would spray a general toxin 
as a pesticide? Why would people use it in the mid-sixties, the boom years of 
the OPs and DDT? Derris, pyretheum and rotenone had seen their share of the 
market almost destroyerd in five years, after all. In addition, what are 
cattle doing in a factory? Why would someone go through all the business of 
screening N samples of soil bacteria in order to find one that would address 
one spill in Southern England? 


  Oliver Sparrow
  ohgs at

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