According to author Amy Stewart, "A botanical garden is so much more than pretty scenery-it's a living museum that can help tell the story of our relationship to the plant kingdom." Surely Frederick Law Olmsted, the ‘Father of American Landscape Architecture,' felt the same when he envisioned a public garden near Asheville as part of his legacy to the famed Biltmore Estate. His sentiments were likely not so sweet when he was nearly blinded by poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix).
A new exhibit developed by The North Carolina Arboretum brings to life Stewart's acclaimed book, Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities. Visitors will discover the evildoers of the plant world lurking in their own backyards and beyond in a 4,000-square-foot interactive science exhibition.
Visitors will step into a macabre world where plants hold the power. Poisonous, carnivorous, or just plain nasty, the diabolical botanicals represented throughout Wicked Plants are shown in all their fearful glory. Guests will be introduced to infamous plants that have left their mark on history and claimed many an unfortunate victim.
Upon entering a decrepit old home, guests will be introduced to the crime family of the plant world, the deadly Nightshades. A veritable rogue's gallery features portraits of these intriguing characters who beguile unsuspecting victims. In the conservatory, weeds of mass destruction have taken over, while a crime scene in the potions laboratory teaches that things aren't always what they seem, especially in the plant world.
A supper served in the dining room could be a visitor's last. Guests will discover that even the most mundane foods can be poisonous under certain circumstances. The terrible toxicodendrons in the parlor can really get under a visitor's skin. From poison ivy to poison arrows, the collection of weaponry in the hallway uses plant derivatives to immobilize and even kill prey.
The social misfits of the plant world are relegated to the bathroom. Visitors will find botanicals that smell foul, and even some that catch fire. Plants in the yard are on the offensive: some secrete sap, some produce exploding fruit, and some have stems that embed into skin. Unruly and altogether mean, these plants are on the attack.