For all you fans of the rotten, stinky, beautiful, wicked plants in the world, if you haven’t somehow yet heard of Amy Stewart take heed! She is the author of Wicked Bugs, Wicked Plants, Flower Confidential, The Earth Moved, From the Ground Up, and a forthcoming book called The Drunken Botanist. She writes blogs called Dirt and Garden Rant.
She is fun, punchy, and incredibly knowledgeable. Her book Wicked Plants has been touring the country in the form of exhibits at botanical gardens and conservatories since it first hit the stands. Once I read Wicked Plants I was hooked and went back to read nearly everything she’d written. Amy was gracious enough to recently grant me an interview for Rotten Botany. Read on for a few words from Amy about the most beautiful and low-down rotanicals she fancies.
What is your favorite plant (wicked or otherwise)?
I am a big fan of salvias of all kinds–there are many species native to California that do really well with no effort at all. I love the colors, and the fact that they are so tough and drought-tolerant, and the fact that they attract a lot of hummingbirds and bees. I probably have 30 or 35 species in my garden.
And there is a wicked salvia–Salvia divinorum, an intoxicating little annual salvia native to Mexico. It apparently causes quite nasty hallucinations. It’s not illegal, but the DEA does consider it a “plant of concern.”
What is your favorite poisonous plant?
I really love castor bean–it’s gorgeous, very dramatic, quite frightful-looking–and the seeds contain ricin, one of the most deadly poisons the plant kingdom makes. Just a few seeds, chewed well, could kill a person.
What do you think is the most dangerous plant?
In terms of the number of people it has killed? That’s easy–tobacco. Over 90 million people have died because of that plant.