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Plants That Kill: Tour the Alnwick Poison Garden

October 16, 2020

Behind the 900-year-old stone walls of Alnwick Castle, the sinister side of botany blooms. Join us, if you dare, as we discover plants that have the power to poison, blind and kill.

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Photo: Shutterstock/Jiri Vondrous

Alnwick Poison Garden

Bone-chilling botany takes center stage in the Poison Garden at Alnwick Castle in Northumberland, U.K. This morbid garden features potent plants that earn a turn in the spotlight for one reason only: being lethal to humans. What’s most surprising about these plants is how common they are. You may even have a few growing innocently in your garden. Take a virtual tour of the Alnwick Poison Garden — if you dare!

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Photo: VisitBritain/Pawel Libera, Getty Images

Famous Façade

Guarded by stone-carved lions, Alnwick Castle in the Northumberland region dates back to the 11th century. Look familiar? You may know it as Brancaster Castle in Downton Abbey or Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in the Harry Potter movies.

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Photo: GettyImages/Richard Clark

Step Inside

The Alnwick Poison Garden with its foreboding flora is part of 14 acres of gardens that have earned Alnwick Castle Gardens the nickname “Versailles of the North.” Poison Garden guided tours are free after you pay the entry fee to the castle gardens. Tours operate every half hour until 5 p.m.

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Photo: Jeff Greenberg

The Deadliest Garden

Inside the Poison Garden, more than 100 dangerous plants grow under lock and key. Some are so hazardous they’re cultivated inside cages. This is definitely one garden where you don’t want to stop and smell the flowers. The Duchess of Northumberland created this morbid collection to help educate schoolchildren about the dangers of harmful and illicit drugs — the kinds of compounds these plants produce. Visitors to the garden are warned not to touch, smell or even stand near the plants.

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