Poison Garden

One of the most important parts of my own spirituality and path is what many call Wildcraft. This falls within the veins of herbalism and witchcraft. I grow, and tend many different plants, such as fruit trees, a vegetable garden, rose garden and an herbal garden. Living in Arizona can present a bunch of challenges when growing plants the heat and dryness is not helpful at all. However I am a gardener and have been my entire life. My mother sent me a photo recently, of me tending a garden with my father at a very small age, perhaps 5 or 6. I remember this garden as my first garden, I was the one that wanted it, and though I did have help it was my garden. I remember it being huge, but I think it was my small size that made it look so large. Over the years I have lived in many different states/countries and have dealt with many different climates, some more difficult than others. Though Arizona has proven to be the most difficult location yet, I have still managed to grow several different gardens, my favorite is the poison garden.

You may wonder why I would grow poison plants. Well it is a bit complicated but also very simple. I love plants! Rare and poison plants have always fascinated me. When I first studied the craft nightshade plants always caught my attention. When I found out that plants, such as peppers, eggplant and tomatoes were in the same family it made me want to research and read. Nightshade plants and most any Solanaceae plants seem to grow incredibly well for me. Many call this, as well as working magically and medicinally with a plant "Plant spirit allies" I personally believe that everything has spirit. So as you can imagine working with plant spirits is incredibly joyful for me.

Several years ago I had a period of time when I was influenced heavily by nightshade plants. They literally just came to me. It was then I decided I wanted to do research, academic, historical, magical, etc. I grew as many nightshade and other poison plants as I could. I grew them from seedlings or seeds and studied each as they grew. Along with academic research in anthropology and ethnobotany I began to cultivate a relationship with them. Later when I moved to Arizona and once again perused academic studies I found myself in an ethnobotany internship (2 semesters) studying Mayan ritual remains, as well as ethnobotany classes, classes about traditional healing etc. Through this, I was able to study these poison plants more in depth with the support of other ethnobotanists and academics. Well enough about me. I am sure you want to hear all about the poison garden!

First off let me say this. STOP, stop right here and read this, then read it again. These plants are potentially dangerous. If you do not know what you are doing do not handle them, do not grow them, and never EVER take them internally. Yes I do make Flying Ointments that I sell locally, however I measure them out, and have studied them extensively so that I understand what I am dealing with. If you grow, buy, use these plants do so at your own risk, and ALWAYS with respect. Plants such as Datura do not care if you live or die, she has no problem taking your life.


Datura comes in many variety of species. Of these I have personally worked with, D. stramonium commonly called Jimsom weed. D. inoxia, which is commonly called Moonflower (see blog about confusing Moonflowers here) D. metele, which have beautiful white and purple blooms, and D. Wrightii which is often called Sacred Datura. Datura contains several alkaloids classified as tropanes. Many Solanaceae plants contain Solanine which is a glycoside. This causes symptoms such as headache, vomiting, and coma if ingested. Datura, Belladonna, Henbane and mandrake contain Atropine, Scopolamine, and Hyoscyamine which has been used in modern medicine for several different reasons. However this does not mean that you can also just use the plant for medicine. It is incredibly more complicated than that. These alkaloids are contained in the seeds and blooms of the Datura plant. Datura is a sacred plant and should be treated as such. Though used in Witches flying ointments they should be prepared with knowledge. Witches such as Sarah Lawless have brought the popularity of Traditional Flying ointments to the world of witchcraft. It has encouraged people like myself to come out of the closet and share their work with poison plants. Datura boasts beautiful purple or white flowers among rich green colored leaves and purple shaded stems. It has been sacred to witches, Mayans, and is still revered in modern day mexico and around the world. Personally I use Datura in my ointments and with magic. She is incredibly powerful, magically speaking and has a strong will, she does what she wants when she wants. However with respect she can be very powerful ally.


Foxglove or Digitalis is one of my favorite flowers. I will admit I have many favorite flowers. Foxglove reminds me of my childhood. Climbing the hills of the U.K. and hiking in the Scottish highlands. As a girl I would pick the long stems of foxglove to bring to the hostess of our BnB. I would stick my fingers inside their spotted blooms and wave them on my fingers. Pink Foxglove has a certain enchantment about it. You can hear whispers of Faery lore, and feel the deep mysteries surrounding the landscape where it lives. Foxglove contains digitalin which is the chemical compound extracted from Foxglove and used in medicine to treat cardiac patients. Overdose can result in extreme sickness and therefor Foxglove should not be taken internally. I personally use foxglove in work with the Faery realm. Dont let this beauty fool you, though she seems harmless, she should still be approached with respect and caution. 

Black Hollyhock

Black Hollyhocks are the only plant in this blog post that are not poisonous. However they are a staple of my poison garden due to their black color and mystery. They are part of the Mallow family which is used by herbalists for many different ailments. However don't ever ingest the Hollyhocks from my poison garden! They are in such close contact with the poison plants that they absorb some of the alkaloids through root contact and through the soil. Better to be safe than sorry!

Black Nightshade

Black nightshade often is confused with both Henbane and Belladonna. However it is entirely its own plant. It grows well in conditions that are similar to what Henbane and Belladonna like. It has smaller oval shaped leaves and tiny star shaped white flowers that produce black juicy berries. They look much like a very dark blueberry but should never ever be confused as such. For eating these will leave you very sorry. Though folklore and some modern testing is reputing the evidence that this plant is entirely toxic, it should be avoided, especially in its green state as this is when it is most toxic. It contains the Tropine alkaloids just like Datura and the other nightshades do, so use caution!


Henbane or Hyoscyamous niger is one of my favorites! I adore the strange flowers and the sticky leaves. When the flowers turn to seed pods I love crushing the seed pods between my fingers. Traditionally it has been used in beer, and is sometimes called the Devils Brew. Like its relatives it contains the Tropine alkaloids and should not be ingested. In Roman times it was used as an anesthesia, it is a traditional ingredient in witches flying ointment, and some believe that the Oracle at Delphi used this herb (among others) to induce her trance. However it is known to induce coma and even death so know your plant before you work with this deadly beauty. 

Angel Trumpets

Angel Trumpet or Brugmansia is related to Datura. It is a close cousin and contains many of the same magical and toxic properties that Datura does. It has a very high ratio of scopolamine though, higher than Datura. These beautiful flowers are large and come in a variety of colors from yellow to red and pink to purple. They are very toxic, however they are commonly used in many tropical gardens. My first encounter with Brugmansia was a huge tree in Japan outside of the Chinese food restaurant. They can become very tall and are sometimes mistakenly called Tree Datura. This plant has been used in Mexico and South America for hundreds of years as a hallucinogen. However it remains deadly and can kill if the incorrect dose is taken. It has been added to smoking blends my indigenous medicine men/women, however many say that the effects of this plant never ever go away.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory or Impomea are a common garden flower. However most don't know that they do contain a chemical very close to that of LSD. LSD was originally derived from Ergot, which is a fungus that grows on Barley. Ergot and Morning Glory seeds do have a similar compound that will induce hallucinations. However you will be disappointed if you run out to smoke a bunch of morning glory seeds from your local plant store. It is more complicated than that. Some varieties will leave you disappointed while others will leave you dead if you use too many. Morning glory sometimes is called Moonflower because of its large disk like blooms. However they come in a variety of color from white or blue to red. Red Impomea's root (Impomea jalapa) is High John the Conquer root and is often used by Root workers in magic for luck. Impomea is often known as Bindweed, as such it is used to bind. I often use its fresh or dried tangled vines in such work. 


Atropa Belladonna or deadly Nightshashade is a notorious witch herb, used in flying ointments and poisons for hundreds of years. Belladonna like its close relatives (such as Henbane and Datura) contain several different tropine alkaloids. It's main alkaloid is Hyoscyamine but Scopolamine and other alkaloids are present in the entire plant. Belladonna is entirely poisonous and ingesting this baneful beauty will leave you very unhappy and can result in death, especially in children. The name means Beautiful Woman, and in the Victorian era, when the look of "death" was popular young women would use small bits of the plant to create dark circles around the eyes and to achieve pale skin. Physicians used Belladonna along with other plants as an early anesthetic, Belladonna is a common name used among pagans and is said to be scared to many goddesses such as Hecate, Bellona, and the Greek Fates, one of which (Atropos) shares its name. Always use caution and wear gloves when working with this plant, especially if you have cuts on your hand. Belladonna's energy is much quieter than Datura, but don't let her fool you, she is just as deadly.


Mandrake of Mandragora Officinarum, is another of the notorious Nightshade and Witch plants. However Mandrake is somewhat milder. Mandrake was also an ingredient often used in flying ointments, and is used quite often by witches and magicians. Some say that the golden apples of the Mandrake were the same golden apples that belonged to Aphrodite. Mandrake has been associated with love and has a history as being used as as aphrodisiac. Though it's golden apples and small purple flowers are well nown it is the mandraks root that is most popular. From pop culture to wives tales, Mandrake roots have been use by magicians and witch for many different magical reasons. Many believe that the mandrake possesses great power, and as such should be greatly respected. Though it isn't as notorious or dangerous as it's other family members, it does contain Atropine, Scopolamine, and Hyoscamine, Unfortunately I could not locate photos of my mandrakes and currently I don't have any to post. 

Fly Agaric

I do not grow Fly Agaric, only because I live in a place that is not suitable for their growth. However I do work with them in my flying ointments. These baneful fungi have delighted many children and adults with their mysterious spotted caps, in many fairy tales and colorful books. I always found it strange that such fungi would be in children's bools and movies, such as Alison in Wonderland and other fairy tales. It is almost as if it wants to be known. Perhaps it is the visual and folkloric enchantment that is so attractive to us all! However be wardned! This psychoactive fungi can surely take you on a trip, which may end in your grave. Fly Agaric contains Muscimol, and a neurotoxin called Ibotenic acid, these can lead to hallucinations and even death. The amount of toxins that are contained in each cap can very depending on region, and so these should not be taken raw or internally as it may be your last meal. However there are some out there that do work with these fungi and have found ways around death, such as cooking the fungi or boiling them. Some have reported safely drinking them in a tea but still report hallucinations. Last year during my Ethnobotany research I came across this intriguing article. "Eating Santa's Shrooms" You can find that info here, However for safety reasons I do not recommend it. 


Aconite, Wolfsbane or Monkshood is an incredibly dangerous and deadly plant. It is part of the Ranunculaceae family and closely related to Delphinium.  Occasionally I grow Monkshood, but it contains deadly poisons and should NEVER be ingested. Growers should wear gloves and take precautions not to let it come in contact with the saliva glands. This deadly poison contains Pseduaconitine which has supplied many cultures with poison arrows and even poison bullets. This is a deadly poison and should always be treated as such. For the novice poison Gardner, I highly suggest growing Delphinium and getting to know its less deadly cousin first. However precaution should still be taken as ingesting this plant will also lead to coma or death. (Please note that Delphinium, is also toxic and you should do your research before working with either plant)


Visit the Alnwick Poison Garden Virtually here
Learn more about Poison plants and their magical properties here

Pharmako Gnosis by Dale Pendell
Wicked Plants by Amy Stewart
Plants of the Gods by Richard Evans Schultes

All photos in the blog were taken by me and connot be used with out my permission

***All contents of this blog should be use for research purposes only and as stated in the blog, should not be used medicinally or ingested***