Coventry & Warwickshire

'Hallucinogenic plant' in Keresley woman's garden

Hallucinogenic native South American plant growing wild in a Keresley garden
Image caption The pod contains mind-altering seeds which are poisonous, Mrs Nowell said

A woman from Coventry claims she has discovered a toxic, hallucinogenic plant native to South America growing in her garden.

Anne Nowell, 66, from Keresley, said she saw an "alien green shoot" among the geraniums and tulips in a flowerbed in her back garden last month.

The plant is 4ft (1.2m) high by 4ft wide, has white flowers and spiky pods.

The retired teaching assistant said she had been led to believe by experts that it was datura stramonium, or locoweed.

Mrs Nowell, who has lived at the house for about 30 years with her husband Norman, a 64-year-old retired miner, said she thought the seed might have been deposited by a migrating bird.

'Poison tips'

"I know this garden like the back of my hand and I know my weeds from my flowers.

"I knew it was like nothing I had seen before so I said to my husband, 'shall we just let it grow out of curiosity?'

"At first we thought it was part of the cucumber or marrow family because it smelt like a vegetable.

"Then my daughter showed me a description of it on the internet that said it was a native South American plant that hunters used to poison the tips of their arrows and spears with."

Mrs Nowell said she had been led to believe by experts from the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew and the Royal Horticultural Society that it was datura stramonium.

She has offered the seeds to anyone who may be interested for research.

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