Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities” as Want to Read:
Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities

by
3.80  ·  Rating details ·  8,820 ratings  ·  1,208 reviews
A tree that sheds poison daggers; a glistening red seed that stops the heart; a shrub that causes paralysis; a vine that strangles; and a leaf that triggered a war. In Wicked Plants, Stewart takes on over two hundred of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. It’s an A to Z of plants that kill, maim, intoxicate, and otherwise offend. You’ll learn which plants to avoid (l ...more
Hardcover, 236 pages
Published May 21st 2009 by Algonquin Books (first published May 2009)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Wicked Plants, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Bekah Like many poisons, they can be hallucinogens or remedies in very small doses. As such, belladonna can act as an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory when p…moreLike many poisons, they can be hallucinogens or remedies in very small doses. As such, belladonna can act as an anesthetic or anti-inflammatory when properly dosed. This seems odd at first, but that just goes to show Claire knew her plants!(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.80  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,820 ratings  ·  1,208 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities
Lori
Jan 29, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It’s a nice desk reference for some plants. Mostly toxic plants, but some simply smell bad or disperse their seeds by attaching seed pods to you or your pet. I’m still not sure why they are wicked.

About birthworts, I can't see a pipe.
Birthworts (Aristolochia clematitis)
Climbing vines that produce bizarre flowers that vaguely resemble pipes, which is how they got their other common name, Dutchman’s pipe. The Greeks looked at the flower and saw something else: a baby emerging from the birth canal.
...more
Richard Derus
Jul 31, 2011 rated it liked it
This review has been revised and can now be found at Expendable Mudge Muses Aloud.

Warning: Prepare for multiple baths
...more
❀Aimee❀ Just one more page...
Interesting read, but I really would have preferred color photos in lieu of the illustrations.

Some interesting things I learned:

The Castor Bean plant with its infamous ingredient ricin is what was used in the famous KGB umbrella poisoning.


The seeds are poisonous and indigenous to Asia and Africa. Victims get fever, trouble speaking, and vomit blood. Castor oil has the ricin removed and is often used for its laxative effect.

Coyotillo shrub berries are quite sinister.

This plant is found in T
...more
Diana | Book of Secrets
WICKED PLANTS was an Audible Daily Deal, and with that title and cover, I couldn't resist downloading it. The book is a curious and often unsettling encyclopedia of plants that have caused harm in one way or another throughout the centuries. I don't think a lot about plants being dangerous, but after reading this I definitely should. I was surprised that even some everyday foods can be harmful. (There's a reason cashews aren't sold in their shell.) However the most harmful of plants kills nearly ...more
Manybooks
I actually stopped reading Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities in utter frustration in September 2013 and really also in massive personal disgust, when I realised with a vehement sense of "oh no" that while the botanical information and details on the presented toxic, dangerous and destructive plant species are most definitely and indeed interestingly and even fascinatingly enough recounted, it simply bothered and continues to annoy m ...more
Jennifer
"We would never pick up a discarded coffee cup from the sidewalk and drink from it. But on a hike, we'll nibble unfamiliar berries as if they had been placed there for our appetites alone. We'll brew a medicinal tea from unrecognizable bark and leaves that a friend passes along, assuming that anything natural must be safe. And when a baby comes home, we rush to add safety caps to electrical outlets but ignore the houseplant in the kitchen and the shrub by the french door. This in spite o
...more
Lois
This was light, interesting and fun. I learned a bit as well.
Kathleen Bianchi
Nov 04, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Very interesting and educational. Written well and with humor.
Shelby *trains flying monkeys*
Really interesting. I don't think I'll ever eat figs again though. ...more
Fiona MacDonald
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
What a fascinating book! Written in a clear, concise and fun manner. The plants are placed in specific categories and we have quirky little subsections called 'meet the relatives' in each category. The only bad thing about the book is it has made me terrified about going out into my garden.... ...more
Lata
Jan 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: x2020-read, auth-f
A quick and light review of numerous plants and their toxins. The author provides historical and anecdotal views and uses, as well as the physiological effects. Aieeee.
The only thing I really have to say about the huge variety of plants that have developed a variety of passive methods to deter insects, fungi and herbivores is, how the heck did we ever manage to find so many different plants to eat safely?
Moonkiszt
I love a book that gets me googling. . . . this has every plant you could think of. I remember playing in the heart of a huge hedge of oleanders in one of the backyards of my childhood. . . .the branches spread in a very straight, organized fashion to the leaves, making a "space" just perfect to play in. I remember placing the pretty flowers and leaves on plates and pretending I was fixing food for my siblings. Don't worry, they didn't die - picky eaters, both. This book mentioned oleanders. . . ...more
Beth
Jun 25, 2009 rated it liked it
Amy Stewart, a self-proclaimed gardener and writer (not a botanist or scientist) presents, in alphabetical order, mini-biographies of botanical villains, weaving in pop culture, mythology, history, folklore, medicine, and law with botanical and biological information. The most captivating entries are the topical ones that were interspersed in the encyclopedic style, themed with "houseplants," "ragweeds," and "the devil's bartender," all about more common plants.

While I love the concept, I was r
...more
Lisa
Aug 04, 2009 rated it it was ok
I really couldn't decide if this book was supposed to be farcical or not; it was so melodramatic and sensationalistic. Its claims of DANGER seem to be overrated. Consider elderberries and habanero peppers for example. Elderberries are the favored food of cedar waxwings and I've never seen a pile of these dead birds around a bush. I've eaten them raw many times and never had any problems. As a chemist I just couldn't see how cooking them would remove the cyanide. Curiousity got the better of me a ...more
Kater Cheek
Apr 18, 2012 rated it liked it
Stewart wrote FLOWER CONFIDENTIAL about the floral industry, so one can posit that like me, she loves plants. Like me, she's also fascinated with poison and murder. The book is lush with exquisitely beautiful (and sometimes exquisitely macabre) illustrations. With short chapters, plentiful illustrations, and a thorough table of contents, this is a fast read.

(I'm not going to go so far as to say that this is the perfect book for the back of the toilet, but WICKED PLANTS does have short entries, e
...more
Amy
Apr 15, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: meh
Stewart attempts to exhaustively catalogue toxic/medicinal plants and herbs using supposedly charming historical vignettes that illustrate and implicate the various species' morbidity and mortality on hapless folk. Humanity is the butt of the joke, all of us apparently being bumbling idiots or murderous half-wits in confrontation with our native flora. Not the most winning premise, and I was irritated by her tone right off the bat.
Long on attempted wit and short on scientific detail, with most
...more
Lisa Wolf
May 12, 2021 rated it liked it
An A-Z guide to all sorts of weird and deadly plants. It's interesting, but don't expect a narrative. This is a great little book to leave on your nightstand and randomly open for a page or two. ...more
Malia
Jun 09, 2011 rated it did not like it
This book is exactly why I don't like to read science books written by non-scientists. Anyone who writes the sentence "mushrooms aren't truly plants" has no business writing a book about plants. Also, as far as writing style goes, this book is more like going on a wikipedia fugue than reading a book. I like the topic, but the execution is abyssmal. ...more
Pamela
Oct 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, science
Wonderfully informative and fascinating. Perhaps a bit dry here and there but balanced out with interesting anecdotes. I will never look at a cashew nut the same again.
Ann R
Actual rating: 3.5 stars

This book might be a good choice for people who are a bit squeamish and would rather skip Stewart's Wicked Bugs: The Louse That Conquered Napoleon's Army and Other Diabolical Insects. After reading Wicked Plants, I was surprised how many houseplants and common garden plants are toxic and it made me wonder why there aren't clearer standards for labeling by growers and nurseries. Otherwise, it also made me wonder historically how many people lost their lives or became ill
...more
Melissa Bennett
Aug 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Great book with lots of interesting information. I ended up having the physical book and also had the book on Audible by accident. I found that it was nice to listen to the Audible version as I followed the book with it. With Audible, the pronunciations of all of the plants were nicely done but the book had lots of drawings that I wanted to look at as well. Some of the information I knew and some just blew me away.
Latasha
May 28, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is really great and informative but maybe the audio book is not the way to go. no illustrations.
JE
Aug 26, 2011 rated it really liked it
Who knew plants could be so wicked? This book contains the terrors of the plant world. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

My favorite plant was the dangerous Jimsom weed. The Jamestown settlers used it against some British soldiers, to get the upper hand on ‘em. Clever colonists. Also interesting was the caster bean, whose poisonous extract was used to kill a communist in the 1970s. And how ‘bout those crazy poisonous ordeal beans, used to determine guilt within the West African criminal justice system?
...more
Sue Smith
Jan 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
This is the nicest presentation of a 'fact' book that I've seen for a long time.

First off .... I love the cover. That's just me- I love how it gives a sinister vibe, looks old and has a solemn, menacing appearance with the use of that intertwining thorny vine. Absolutely made me want to pick it up and open it. Also loved the golden ribbon stitched into the binding so you could mark your place - or the plant that you want to use on your next victim.

Next, I love the beautiful illustrations and etc
...more
Susan in NC
Jul 08, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, as an amateur but enthusiastic gardener, but also as an armchair popular science nerd.

Amy Stewart’s entertaining, humorous yet informative style, and the layout of the Kindle book I read, allow readers to dip in and out of the information, and read as much or as little as they like each time.

I will keep an eye out for a copy of this book to buy for my collection of gardening books, it is helpful and interesting. The author offers common sense advice like always wear gloves
...more
Nicky
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Wicked Plants is one of those books which seems, to me, more like the sort of thing you dip into, flip through, and ultimately probably leave on the bookshop shelf. The illustrations are quite pretty, and some of the facts are entertaining, but all in all it becomes a list of facts, grouped into categories of varying usefulness/interest.

If you’re fascinated by all the ways the natural world can kill us, this might well be your thing — and if you love plants in general, and spend a lot of time ga
...more
Almeta
Aug 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: revue
Not so much a narrative but an encyclopedia with a story or two. I am not likely to remember every plant and its toxin but its affect (no matter which genus) will likely be; nausea, vomiting, irritated bowel in the extreme, paralysis and respiratory failure. If there are others to note, by that time you won’t care!

I was surprised at how many of these I have actually cultivated in my own garden and home. Some of which I gave a "Jaundiced eye" while reading this book!

If your significant other has
...more
Robyn
Jul 24, 2016 rated it did not like it
What happens when you abandon ethos and choose inappropriate evidence to induce shock? You get Amy Stewart's Wicked Plants. ...more
Akira
Apr 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I seriously 😳 loved this book 📖! 🌱🌱🌱 SoOoOo much so that I want to own it & the other book 📚 in the series. It’s an excellent little read of fun facts. I love that there’s a section that references Guam 🇬🇺 🦇🌴😍!!! That fact alone had me super excited and reading aloud to everyone around me lol, but seriously it’s a great little read and definitely something to add to your nonfiction collection- especially if you have particular morbid interests 😉🤫
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Description language 1 2 Apr 28, 2020 07:16PM  
Nerdy Show Book Club: Wicked Plants 1 6 Jun 17, 2012 02:29AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • The Earth Moved: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms
  • Poison: The History of Potions, Powders and Murderous Practitioners
  • Death in the Garden: Poisonous Plants and Their Use Throughout History
  • Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything
  • Visible Mending: A Modern Guide to Darning, Stitching and Patching the Clothes You Love
  • We Did That?: (Trivia, Humor, For Fans of Uncle John's New & Improved Funniest Ever)
  • RHS Botany for Gardeners: The Art and Science of Gardening Explained & Explored
  • Cursed Objects: Strange But True Stories of the World's Most Infamous Items
  • W czym grzyby są lepsze od ciebie?
  • The Plant Messiah: Adventures in Search of the World’s Rarest Species
  • A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie
  • The Secret Poisoner: A Century of Murder
  • Fifty Plants That Changed the Course of History
  • Blood and Guts: A History of Surgery
  • The Revolutionary Genius of Plants: A New Understanding of Plant Intelligence and Behavior
  • The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden
  • Rabid: A Cultural History of the World's Most Diabolical Virus
  • Beloved Beasts: Fighting for Life in an Age of Extinction
See similar books…
See top shelves…
2,253 followers
Amy Stewart is the New York Times bestselling author of over a dozen books, including Girl Waits with Gun, Lady Cop Makes Trouble, The Drunken Botanist, and Wicked Plants.

She lives in Portland with her husband Scott Brown, a rare book dealer.

Stay connected with Amy via her newsletter , where she offers cocktail recipes, creative inspiration, book recommendations, and more!




...more

News & Interviews

When author TJ Klune was growing up, he never saw queer characters in books in a way that felt true to his experience.  “They were the...
275 likes · 15 comments
“A poisonous seed will only kill you if you chew it and swallow.” 5 likes
“But a male tree produces only small, well-behaved flowers—that is, if your definition of well behaved includes spewing plant sperm into the air for weeks on end.” 3 likes
More quotes…