Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins

A couple of weeks ago, we went back to the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park to see a special exhibit running through October 30, 2011 called Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins.

According to the Conservatory of Flowers website:

Paralysis, strangulation, derangement – these are just a few of the misdeeds of the plant kingdom as chronicled by award-winning author Amy Stewart in her 2009 New York Times Bestseller, Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical Atrocities. And now, something wicked this way comes. It’s mayhem under glass, as the Conservatory of Flowers transforms its Special Exhibits Gallery into an eerie Victorian garden full of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations. Building on the fascinating plant portraits in Stewart’s book, the Conservatory introduces visitors to living examples of dozens of infamous plants that have left their mark on history and claimed many an unfortunate victim, like the castor bean, implicated in the 1978 “umbrella murder” of communist defector BBC journalist Georgi Markov, and the strychnine tree, nineteenth-century serial killer Dr. Thomas Neill Cream’s poison of choice for troublesome spouses and lovers. It’s a who’s who of botanical rogues and assassins. Meet them if you dare

It was a good exhibit and we hope to go back before it ends. Here are some of the photos we took. I have labeled the plants I’m familiar with. There were some that I didn’t catch. I hope you enjoy them.

Victorian Intrigue
Victorian Intrigue

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Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: Part 2, The Potted Plant Gallery

I meant to post this sooner, but we got caught up in a rather heavy rain/hail/lightning/ mess, so I turned the computer off to be safe.

Previously, I posted Conservatory of Flowers in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park: Part 1, The Lowland Tropics.

Anyone who comes to San Francisco should try and find the time to visit the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. Opened to the public in 1879, it is the oldest building in the park. It houses around 1700 plant species. The orchid collection is said to be one of the best.

This time we’re going to visit the Potted Plants Gallery.



The Conservatory of Flowers is located at 100 John F. Kennedy Drive. It is accessible for motorized and non motorized wheelchairs. Strollers are not permitted inside, but there is a place to park them while you explore. As it is a greenhouse, it will be quite warm and humid inside. As it can be rather cold outside, be sure to wear removable layers. It is open Tuesday thru Sunday from 10am to 4:30pm. The cost is $7 for adults, $5 for ages 12-17, seniors 65 & over, and college students with school ID. $2 for children 5 – 11 and free for children 4 and under. Local residents receive a discount with proof of residency.

Note: On Sundays, John F. Kennedy Drive is closed to vehicular traffic. For those who don’t mind walking, you can just park on Martin Luther King Drive and walk to the Conservatory.

Amazingly, the Conservatory barely escaped disaster more than once. It had to have the dome restored after an 1883 boiler explosion and fire. It also managed to survive the 1906 Earthquake. In 1933 Structural instability caused the Park Commission to close it. The Great Depression meant a lack of funds preventing it from reopening until 1946.

The Potted Plants Gallery is home to hibiscus, cymbidium orchids, bromeliads, begonias, and much more. When I know the name of a plant, the pictures will be labeled. Not everything had a marker, so I was unsure of a few.  Should anyone know the name of any of these unnamed plants, feel free to comment.  I’ll update if necessary.

I hope you enjoyed some of these. I also hope they give you the urge to visit our fine city and see what it has to offer. I wasn’t born and raised here, however, I can understand the song “I Left My Heart In San Francisco”. 🙂

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