One of the most interesting and funny looking plant I found while doing my twitter assignment search is doll’s eye plant. I just told my mom that my next blog post is on doll’s eye plant and she freaked out and asked quickly why this plant? The weird looking and carnivorous plants have always attracted me since childhood when I used to do gardening with my grandmother and visit plant conservatories in back country .
This plant looks like eyeballs on a bloody stalk with their stems covered with blood. These plants are mainly found in forests in Southern Canada to Georgia and west to Minnesota. The most standout feature of the plant is their white spherical berries with black dots on their tips. They are called “doll’s eye because of the presence of black shiny dot formed by the it’s persistent stigma.
The morphology of the plant seems to attract people and just in case if you are thinking of tasting their eyeballs, I would like you to know that they are extremely poisonous!
Courtesy of Flickr User Benet 2006
The whole plant is poisonous and very toxic if you eat it in large quantity.
Symptoms after eating the plant includes dizziness, burning of throat, headache, hallucinations and diarrhea. Another specie of the plant is Red Baneberry which is also very similar to white baneberry and sometimes are found with white clusters instead of read. The easy way to distinguish between the two species is to look for their pedicels, where red baneberry have thin pedicels as compare to white one which are mostly thick.
The only insect that are attracted to the pollens of the the plant are Halictid bees. The bird that feed on their berries are Ruffed Grouse, the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker and the American Robin. It can cause respiratory paralysis and cardiac arrest if consumed by humans. Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also eat the fruit, therefore helping disperse the seeds of the plant,brown wedge-shaped seeds. When eaten by Ruffed Grouse,the seeds are destroyed in the digestive process.
Interesting fact: The juice of Red Baneberry is used to gargle by Native American, as well as to poison their arrows.
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