‘Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea,
for the Devil sends the beast with wrath,
because he knows the time is short…
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast for it is a human number,
its number is Six hundred and sixty six.’
Revelations CH XIII v. 18
(It is also the introduction to the Iron Maiden song ‘The Number of the Beast’)
This post is not going to be about Iron Maiden, though you may get the video at the end. It is going to be about plants that have a connection in some way with the ‘Devil’, along with a few other nasties that should be in any ‘Devils Garden’. Also, I have included some real nasties from the animal world, just to give the garden more of an edge. It is very similar to the ‘Garden of Death- Welcome to the Darkside!’ post that I done earlier in the year, but this time there are no boundaries, by using plants and animals from around the world, it really does give your garden more of an edge.
A ‘Devils Garden’ is basically a ‘Garden of Eden’ but in reverse and with the Garden of Eden came the snake, in this garden there will also be its own little twist. Many of the plants have just got the word Devil in there name and are not always dangerous, but some of the plants are real killers.
Devils Ivy (Epipiremnum aureum)
Devils Ivy is a self clinging climber that can reach up to 4m high. Conservatory or greenhouse plant for us in the UK. The sap to this plant is irritant to the eyes and skin, ingestion can cause vomiting and severe stomach cramps.
Devils Club (Echinopanax horridum)
Also called Devil’s walking stick, it is a large spiny plant from North America and the spines can cause festering wounds. The berries are poisonous and have been used to kill lice by crushing them and then applying it to the hair. This plant does also have medicinal uses.
Devils Claw (Harpagophytum procumbens)
Now I like this one. Found in the southern part of Africa, this plant has hooks on it seeds which hook onto passing animals, the seed can also get caught in animals mouths causing starvation. Extracts of the plant are used in medicines, but high doses can be hazardous.
Death Cap (Amanita Phalloides)
We have all heard of this one. Just one of these is enough to kill a adult human, found between July and November, mainly in deciduous woodland areas. This one leave to the experts and even some of them have got it wrong, it is a mistake that is usually only made the once.
Destroying Angel (Amanita virosa)
It can take several hours after eating the mushroom before the toxin finally takes effect, it causes severe abdominal cramps, violent vomiting and diarrhea, followed by liver and kidney failure. There is also a short remission of symptoms 1-2 days after consumption and may give a false impression of recovery.
Castor Oil Plant (Ricinus communis)
We all know this one. The seeds from the Castor Oil plant are poisonous, to people, animals and insects. The main toxin is ricin, the seed coat has to be damaged for the ricin to be absorbed and it takes just one seed too kill. Symptoms occur within a couple of hours of ingestion which include, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.
Datura stramonium (Devils Weed/Thornapple)
Most poisoning that occurs from this plant, results from the tea that is made from the seeds either for its alleged medicinal benefits or for its hallucinogenic effects.
Nerium oleander (Oleander)
One of the most deadliest of plants. This is so poisonous that one single leaf is enough to kill an adult human. It contains several toxins in its flowers, twigs, leaves, and berries. A favourite of mine and we do have one of these in one of our small courtyards in a container.
Menispermum canadense (Moonseed Plant)
A large climber from North America that can reach to over 6m high. All parts of the plant are poisonous, it is the purple/black berries that are often mistaken for the edible Fox Grape that get eaten, can be fatal.
Devils Fingers (Clathrus archeri)
This is a real killer, if you are a fly that is otherwise its harmless. Another common name is Stinkhorn because of the foul-smelling tissue it has.
Devils Backbone (Euphorbia tithymaloides)
Reaching over 2.5m high, it comes from the tropical and subtropical parts of North and Central America. A very toxic plant that also has medicinal qualities.
There’s the plants for the garden, all you need now is a good mixture of wildlife. I have often wondered what it is like being a gardener in another country, where the wildlife is a little more challenging than what we have here in the UK. We really don’t have anything that can do us any harm, we may get stung by a bee or wasp, or nipped by a ant or a rare non venomous spider. Our biggest danger at work is the two legged idiot in a car, on a cycle and in a punt, the latter being more noisy than dangerous …. with a certain amount of entertainment value as well.
So what is a good one to start with….
Brazillian Wandering Spider
This has attitude and it is the most deadliest spider in the world. Its aggressive, biting several times in a row, highly venomous and is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the planet’s most venomous animal. This arachnid kills more humans than any other, they have often made it over here in the UK hiding in Banana boxes … you’d better mind out next time you are in Tescos.
The fastest snake in the world, it is also the longest venomous snake in Africa, reaching over 4m in length. It is not the most venomous snake in the world, that one goes to the Fierce snake in Australia, but its aggression is second to none.
Black Fat Tailed Scorpian
Fast, aggressive and highly venomous, this scorpion can kill. From the Middle East and Africa, their Latin name originates from Greece and it means ‘Man killer’.
This one is bigger enough to give it a cuddle, that’s if you don’t mind losing the odd limb here or there. It can reach over 5m in length and eats anything from a perch right up to things the size of horses and cattle; so we are definitely on the the menu.
Japanese Giant Hornet
This giant of an insect can kill forty European honey bees in a minute. A group of around thirty hornets can destroy an entire hive containing over 30,000 bees in around three hours; biting off the bees heads and taking back there thoraxes to their nest for their larvae to feed on.
Scary looking critter, non venomous but it can squirt an acid that smells of vinegar from its abdomen. Not dangerous to humans but certainly an ugly looking bugger.
Now, the ‘Garden of Eden’ had a snake in it to tempt Eve into eating the forbidden fruit. So if the devils garden is the opposite, you have got to have an animal that is unlike the others in the garden and one that has different temptation.
Ahhh …. the Red Panda. For me it has to be the cutest animal on earth, native to the Himalayas and China, its area ranges from Nepal through to Eastern China. Only slightly larger than a domestic cat, it has the cutest eyes ever and as for the temptation …. you just can not resist giving it a great big hug!