The Delaware Museum of Natural History opened a fascinating exhibit last weekend that attracted a large crowd. Named “Wicked Plants –The Exhibit” (inspired by author Amy Stewart’s best-selling book “Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities) is a brilliantly displayed collection of food and plants that can sicken, hurt or even kill the unwary. Helen Bilinski-Director of Exhibits at the museum has done herself and her staff proud. The information is designed to be shown in a replica of a house floor plan. The first area is a front garden with a “dreadful” plant found in dry climates like Arizona that has small “growths” that leap from the plant and attaches itself to the unwary people who get too close leaving them screaming in pain. A “movie” next to the plant shows this happening to someone. This is all enclosed in a fence.
Nearby is a tall cactus like plant that also throws “barbs”, but all of the plants shown are replicas so they do not harm passersby.
In the next room is a library with the owner, “Bella-Donna”, slumped over dead on the table. Numerous clues about her death are scattered about the room and the visitors are invited to determine what killed her.
The “dining” room table is set for a large diner party with perfectly normal food like peas, rhubarb, beans, tapioca etc. that can be poisonous if not properly handled. Surprisingly celery is among them but it’s problem can be a pink mold which is associated with workers who harvest the celery. Never again will I plan my dinner menu so casually!
Real poisonous plants are also on display courtesy of Mt. Cuba Center, a native plant botanic garden located nearby. Mt. Cuba is offering walks and classes in their garden on the topic of “Wicked Plants”. (Mt. Cuba Center-3120 Barley Mill Road-Hockessin DE, 19707 302-239-8893)
On opening day The Museum of Natural History had live bird exhibits, companion dogs (which attracted the children) and numerous stations for the children to “learn and do” as well as a scavenger hunt.
The exhibit is really designed for older children and adults should see it! You have no idea what a dangerous world in which we live. The exhibit is on view through Monday Sept. 2, 2019.