Books for Nature Lovers
Poisonous Plants of South Afica
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Review By: Wildside Maart 2004

When you have finished reading this well-reserached and comprehensive guide to the most commonly occurring poisonus plants in Sout Africa, the pretty and innocent looking delphiniums in your herbaceous border may take on an altogether more sisnister aspect. Among the toxins found in these plants is aconitine, one of the most violent plant poisons known. - a mere 5mg is apparently lethal to humans. 

Befor you call in the paving contractors to cover everything in brink, however, bear in mind that plants are responsible for a relatively modest 6.5% of all human poisoning cases in South Africa (paraffin tops the list at 52,4%). By far the most vulnerable group are small children between the ages of 1 and 5 years and this book should be an important addition to the libraties of young families. These are sections on both indigenous and exotic garden plants illustrated with over 450 colour photographs that will help you identify the main culprits. There is also a section on first aid treatment. 

Death, as opposed to discomfort, due to plant poisoning among humans is comparatively rare in South Arica but the annual losses of cattel have been estimated at 38 000 head and small stock losses at 265 000. The book is thus an essential reference guide for farmers, veterinarians, field guides and anyone else who needs to understand the vegetable dangers that lurk out in the veld. 

The introductory chapters give an overview of the subject, including discussions of human and animal poisoning and the chemical compounds responsible. In the main part of the book, poisonous plants are arranged in two sections. The first details the 100 genera of indigenous and naturalized exotics with distribution maps to help with identification. The second section deals with about 50 of the most common poisonous garden plants. 

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