Wicked Plants at Google

On the book tour last month I had the extraordinary experience of getting to visit Google and give a lunchtime author talk to the employees.  I was a little star-struck, to tell you the truth.  It’s a very cool set-up–I was speaking to a group there in Mountainview, but there were other people watching via videoconference at some of Google’s other offices. After the talk, I got to take a tour of their beautiful and...

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And I Thought Coke Had Some Funny Ingredients!

Turns out Coca-Cola isn't the only soft drink to have some interesting botanical ingredients.  Yes, Coke still contains coke–or at least, a cocaine-free extract of the coca leaf, but did you know that the original formula for Dr. Pepper may have contained the narcotic mandrake root? Check out this auction listing for a handwritten ledger book from the Waco Drug Store.  It contains a recipe for "Dr. Pepper Pepsin...

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Behind the Scenes: The USDA Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory

A couple of years ago I took a research trip to Logan, Utah to visit the USDA's Poisonous Plant Research Laboratory. From the photographs on their website, I was expecting a sort of horticultural X-Files experience: something very high-tech, state-of-the-art, but also mysterious, subversive, and possibly dangerous. And in fact, that's exactly what I got. Guys in white lab coats, glass beakers, machines that go beep, and startling...

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My Poison Box

When I first started writing Wicked Plants, I had this idea for something I wanted to do on the book tour.  "I'm going to find some kind of old leather doctor's bag," I told my editor one day in New York, "filled with little vials and boxes.  I'll put my poisons in there–strychnine seeds, castor bean, hemlock root–and I'll take it on the book tour."  I said that as if something...

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Wicked Plants at the White House

This just in from The Onion. WASHINGTON—In his first major gaffe since taking office, President Obama accidentally stepped too close to the ferocious, man-eating plants of the White House Rose Garden Monday and was nearly devoured whole. read on: Obama Narrowly Survives Carnivorous Section Of Rose Garden

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