Killer growing in Suffolk gardens

BEWARE the Devil's Snare - the deadly tropical plant is making its home in gardens across Ipswich.

Tom Potter

BEWARE the Devil's Snare - the deadly tropical plant is making its home in gardens across Ipswich.

One pensioner from Chantry was shocked to discover that a weed growing in his garden was actually a cold-blooded killer.

Thomas Scrivener, 80, said he had just let it grow after the frighteningly named Devil's Snare began sprouting in his Heron Road garden.


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Mr Scrivener first spotted the scary-looking weed around two weeks ago but wrote it off as a common wild plant.

It was only when he opened a national newspaper and saw an identical shrub, known as datura stramonium, that he realised the new addition to his garden could at best induce hallucinations and at worst kill him.

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He said: “I had no idea what it was until I saw the paper. I'm interested in all kinds of different foliage but I thought this was a queer one.

“It certainly has the look of something dangerous.”

Mr Scrivener originally decided to let the plant grow but, after reading up on the possible hazards it carries, is now considering getting rid of it.

Meanwhile, a few yards down the road in Pintail Close, Pauline Hardwick was doing the weeding when she came across some unusual shrubbery which turned out to be the Devil's Snare.

The 67-year-old initially took the advice of her sister and left it to grow until they could identify the weed.

Mrs Hardwick: “Then my son came round. He said he didn't want to alarm me but thought the plant in my garden might be dangerous.”

Elsewhere, in Medway Road, Phil Crisp discovered what he now knows to be the Devil's Snare while he was doing a little DIY.

The 58-year-old carpenter said: “I was building some steps by the patio and I saw what looked like a marrow or cucumber plant.

“My wife had thrown wild flower seeds over the garden so I thought nothing of it until I saw the same plant on TV.

“I'll keep it there for my daughters and grandchildren to see before I cut it down.”

Fact file: Datura stramonium

- The plant originated in Mexico but spread to Europe and is sometimes found as a weed on wastelands and in rub-bish dumps.

- All parts of datura plants contain dangerous levels of poison and may be fatal if ingested by humans or animals, including livestock and pets.

- The mild effects brought on by ingesting the plant have been described as a 'living dream' and can last for days.

- The exotic plant's aliases are enough to strike fear into any green-fingered gardener - Also known as stink weed, loco weed, devil's seed and mad hatter, it is a known hallucinogen which has caused many hospitalisations and some deaths.

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