Saturday, 12 March 2011


There is a shrub growing among the trees of the old Hall gardens on Shipley Hill, which is almost smothered with flowers at this time of year.  Standing at least 12ft high, it is quite a sight to behold.
The bell-shaped flowers are best seen close to, but from a distance, they seem to form a froth of white covering the bush.  It is, of course a Pieris, commonly known as Andromeda.
Pieris belong to the family of plants known as Ercaceaea (know you know where the title of today's blog entry comes from).  The family is perhaps more well known for it's heathers than for Pieris, but looking closely at the flowers, you can see where the familial bond lies.
The plant is very poisonous, containing a substance known as Andromedotoxin (also found in Rhododendrons and Azaleas).  Ingesting the leaves, or even the nectar of this plant can cause tingling sensations, salivation, nose and eyes watering, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, weakness, convulsions and rarely death.  Quite a list for such a beautiful plant and one which is so widely planted in our ornamental borders.  Despite this sinister side, it remains a magnificently showy plant.
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