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Author Topic: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen  (Read 5967 times)

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Offline Jerusha

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2012, 06:56:56 pm »
Not to worry, and hope you are feeling better soon.

Sometimes it's better not to know what's in the medicine. 

Oh wait, that didn't work too well for poor Sir Gilrea, did it?

Evie, please read the ingredients, first!  ;D
From ghoulies and ghosties and long-leggity beasties and things that go bump in the night...good Lord deliver us!

 -- Old English Litany

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2012, 07:17:53 pm »
LOL!  Fortunately my husband is nothing like Ędwige!   :D  Although speaking of reading labels and things that make one say "Hmmm," apparently my steroid pack is not supposed to be combined with my antibiotic because that combination can lead to tendon problems.  Just one of several questions I've brought to the attention of my cousin the pharmacist via a Facebook email tonight and am waiting with bated breath to hear his thoughts on.  *sigh*  In the meantime, I suppose any trips to the gym are right out, not that I've got any energy to go to the gym at the moment.   ;D
« Last Edit: February 25, 2012, 07:21:22 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2012, 08:12:21 pm »
As for nightshade, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant are also in that family.  Indeed, every part of the potato except for the tuber is poisonous.  See the Dorothy L. Sayers story "The Leopard Lady".

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #18 on: February 26, 2012, 10:11:40 pm »
Quote
Indeed, every part of the potato except for the tuber is poisonous.
 
As long as you don't let them go green (not mould, LOL).  If the skins get a green tinge, then they can be poisonous, and you should throw out the whole tuber, not just cut away the skin. 

Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #19 on: February 26, 2012, 11:11:41 pm »
If you leave potato plants in the ground a second year, they'll develop the 'potato apple', which looks like a small, green tomato.  DON'T EAT IT!

For adults, it will probably just make you very, very sick.  The main symptoms are vomiting and purging, so an adult will probably expel most of the poison before enough of it gets into the bloodstream to do much lasting harm.  Unfortunately, a child--particularly one young enough to not have the sense to not eat some strange fruit or berry--is too small to have that margin for error.

To get on topic, the preservative effect of the herb in question sounds a lot like what I've read about arsenic and other heavy metals.  Does the plant pull heavy metals out of the soil somehow and concentrate them?  (I mean, most plants will to a greater or lesser extent, if there are high levels of arsenic, antinimony, lead, etc. in the soil--but does this one do it more than most, so that if the soil-levels are so low that it won't make a difference for most crops, this one will suck them all up?  And, if so, could it be used to purify contaminated soil? [When you have a cousin who works for the Agricultural Extension Service, such questions occur naturally.])

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #20 on: February 27, 2012, 09:02:24 am »
To get on topic, the preservative effect of the herb in question sounds a lot like what I've read about arsenic and other heavy metals.  Does the plant pull heavy metals out of the soil somehow and concentrate them?  (I mean, most plants will to a greater or lesser extent, if there are high levels of arsenic, antinimony, lead, etc. in the soil--but does this one do it more than most, so that if the soil-levels are so low that it won't make a difference for most crops, this one will suck them all up?  And, if so, could it be used to purify contaminated soil? [When you have a cousin who works for the Agricultural Extension Service, such questions occur naturally.])

That sounds like a plausible explanation to me, and yes, it was reading about arsenic that first put me in mind of that effect (though for story purposes I may have done enough "tweaking" that the symptoms list might not end up wholly consistent with arsenic poisoning anymore...I can think of one symptom mentioned later in the story that definitely won't be consistent with it, but that might be explained by some other property peculiar to mortweed), so I can see mortweed being something like a botanical super-sponge for it, or at least for something else in the soil that would work similarly in sufficient concentrations.  In terms of benefits to the plant itself, that would certainly protect it from herbivores, who wouldn't eat it more than once and who would learn to avoid it from seeing how it affected others in the herd.  I imagine landowners would be quick to eradicate it from their fields whenever it's spotted, but then again, if it's a hardy enough plant, I'm sure a sprig or two would tend to come up now and again despite the farmers' best efforts, and possibly might would even be cultivated--secretly or not so secretly--by those who value its properties as a poison.  (Legally so, even, since it would be used primarily for pest control.  Of the non-human sort, that is.  :D)
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
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Offline Elkhound

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #21 on: February 27, 2012, 03:23:47 pm »
What I was thinking was that if you knew that the soil of such-and-such a field was contaminated with arsenic, antinimony, or other heavy metal, so that it was useless for crops and probably dangerous to have cattle graze on it, could you deliberately plant it with mortweed for a season or so and have it pull enough of the offending substance out of the soil that the plot would subsequently be safe?

Offline Evie

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #22 on: February 27, 2012, 03:28:35 pm »
Nowadays, in a century of greater scientific understanding of cause/effect, that might be possible.  I don't know that they'd necessarily make a connection back then, though.  I'd need to think about it a bit more to see if there's some way that it could be "logicked out" by a medieval without today's scientific equipment or understanding, but given my own medically induced cognitive impairment this week, just trying to work out how that might work hurts my brain a bit.   :D
« Last Edit: February 27, 2012, 03:35:38 pm by Evie »
"In necessariis unitas, in non-necessariis libertas, in utrisque caritas."

--WARNING!!!--
I have a vocabulary in excess of 75,000 words, and I'm not afraid to use it!

Offline Alkari

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Re: Visionaries--Part Two--Chapter Sixteen
« Reply #23 on: February 27, 2012, 03:47:56 pm »
Quote
if you knew that the soil of such-and-such a field was contaminated with arsenic, antinimony, or other heavy metal, so that it was useless for crops and probably dangerous to have cattle graze on it, could you deliberately plant it with mortweed for a season or so and have it pull enough of the offending substance out of the soil that the plot would subsequently be safe?
I think the field concerned would probably just be labelled "cursed" in some way, and left fallow - perhaps allowed to return to natural woodland.  Who knows what peasant and folklore legends might arise from such a situation?  :)


 

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