Wicked Plants: Botanical Rogues & Assassins
Northern California Author Amy Stewart’s 2009 New York Times Bestseller,
Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother & Other Botanical
Atrocities comes to deadly life at the Conservatory of Flowers this summer
April 7 – October 30, 2011
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.
As visitors enter the exhibition, they find themselves in a mysterious, untended yard behind a ramshackle old Victorian home. Peeking through the window, it’s clear that a crime has just taken place. A man is slumped over on a table, a goblet in his lifeless hand, as the lady of the house flees in the background. Crows caw, and a rusty gate creaks. In the overgrown garden, moss covered statues rise up out of an unruly thicket of alluring plants. Beautiful flowers and glistening berries bewitch the eye, but consider yourself warned – these plants have names like deadly nightshade, poison hemlock and white snakeroot. Here lurk some of the greatest killers of all time.
The exhibition features over 30 species of wicked plants from those with famously scandalous histories to those that grow “innocently” in millions of gardens and homes today. Visitors can enjoy corresponding excerpts from Stewart’s book full of bloodcurdling tales and fascinating facts on signs throughout the gallery.
"I'm very drawn to storytelling as a writer, and I love it that the plant world is full of such drama and intrigue," says Stewart. " Plants nourish us, they feed us, and they provide the very oxygen we breathe – but they also have to defend themselves. I hope people will come away from the exhibit with a new level of respect for the power of the plant kingdom – but I also hope they will be really entertained. The Conservatory exhibit staff turns out to have a very wicked sense of humor, and they've created an exhibit beyond anything I could have imagined."
The Conservatory of Flowers would like to thank the following media sponsors for their support of the exhibition: