Snow White: Could An Apple Kill?

Fairyology

“How I wish that I had a daughter that had skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, and hair as black as ebony.”

Fairyology Episode 3

599936-snow_white1_large.jpgToday we turn our attention to the well-wishing, house-cleaning, magic-mirroring princess. It’s Snow White! Now if for some strange reason you’ve been living under a rock for the post 2000 years and don’t know this particular princess let me give you a little run down of the story.

A queen wished for a daughter that had everything in the quote above. Luckily for this queen her wish was granted and they called the baby Snow White however she died shortly after giving birth. So her king had to look after Snow White. Then the king gets remarried, now you must know that this isn’t going to be good. Snows step mother has this mirror and it’s magic. Her step mum talks to the mirror everyday and asks it who is the fairest of them all. Now all while snow is growing up it always says the she is the fairest. Until (dun, dun duuuuuhhh) it says that Snow is now the fairest! So the evil step mum orders Snow killed. The man charged with this actually just squirrels her away into the woods where she lives with seven dwarfs. The evil queen finds out and then goes hunting for her. After several failed plots she succeeds with a poison apple which puts Snow into a deep sleep. Lucky for Snow her boyf comes to her rescue and wakes her with true loves kiss. Happy ending woohoo! (1)

But let’s rewind one hot second, a poisoned apple! Thats a biology goldmine! What could’ve poisoned it! Well as per usual I’ve come up with some theories, let’s get stuck in!

Theory 1 = Poison Hemlock

1Now way back when I did a post on poison hemlock, it sparked my series the poisons
collection. So I won’t go into the intricacy’s of this wonderful poisonous plant instead I’ll skip to how this plant could be linked to the poisoned apple. This plants poisons are slow working but they are also extremely potent. When consumed the poisons cause paralysis which works well with the story of Snow going into a deep sleep. All parts of the plant contains the poisons so you wouldn’t need much to lace the apple for it to take effect. (2) From history this plant has been used to kill lots of people most famously Socrates! (3) This could have easily been the perfect plan for the evil queen, so how did she survive with this theory? Well clearly the Prince gave snow the antidote with his kiss. Whatever lip balm he uses I want it!

Theory 2 = Deadly Nightshade

300px-Atropa_belladonna_003
Another plant that has been featured on the poisons collection in this post. Deadly Nightshade grows across Europe (where Snow White is set). It has some really edible looking berries, filled with poison that again causes paralysis. It’s said that the effects work quite quickly. Although the most potent part of the plant is considered to be the root; a handful of berry juice inserted into the apple would be enough! (4).

Theory 3 = The Apple Itself? 

Did you know that apple seeds contain cyanide! Yeah however due to the hard coating outside the seed the body rarely even sees the cyanide even if you do swallow a seed. So how would this work for cyanide to be the poison in the apple? Firstly the evil queen would have to produce a really really seedy apple. The amount of cyanide in each seed is so minimal you would need alot of seeds to do any harm. Secondly she would have to make the coating on the seeds weaker in some way or made sure snow chewed it very thoroughly. Then and only then would the cyanide be able to do some damage. Yeah that’s probably not that likely!

In conclusion I really hope you’ve enjoyed this episode, it was inspired by a poster I did way back in my third year of my bachelors degree. Til’ next time check out my links below and come say hi on your social media of choice!

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Sources

(1) = http://gb.imdb.com/title/tt0029583/plotsummary

(2) = http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/conium_maculatum.htm

(3) = http://www.eyewitnesstohistory.com/socrates.htm

(4) = http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/atropa_belladonna.htm

(5) = https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2015/oct/11/cyanide-in-fruit-seeds-how-dangerous-is-an-apple

 

6 in 60- Number 35: Boil Em’ Mash Em’ Stick em in a stew!

6in60

If you know the quote for the title you already know what I’ll be on about! If not well of course it’s the humble Potato! Let’s go:

  1. The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C
  2. The word potato comes from the Spanish word patata.
  3. One of the main causes of the Great Famine in Ireland between 1845 and 1852 was a potato disease known as potato blight. The shortage of potatoes led to the death of around 1 million people who were dependent on them as a food source.
  4. Potatoes are a member of the nightshade family, which also includes tomatoes, capsicum and the poisonous belladonna.
  5. Good news for fans of mash: humans can apparently survive on a diet of just potatoes, and milk or butter, which contain Vitamin A and D, the only vitamins missing from the humble spud.
  6. The biggest potato ever grown was 8lb and 4oz beating the previous record by 9oz. I know you wanna see this beast so here’s a picture:

big-spud_1708079c

See and you didn’t think there was anything interesting to be said about them!

The Sources

Fact 1 came from “potato goodness” bit strange but I’ll roll with it. Fact 2 and 3 comes from this site. Fact 4 and 5 comes from a lifestyle article on yahoo.

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The Poisons Collection: Could Nightlock Berries Be Real?

The poisons collection

Have you ever dreamed of looking like a disney princess with your eyes all 300px-Atropa_belladonna_003big and wide and dreamy. Ever thought that you could get that by using a plant?! Well Atropa belladonna can give you those dreamy eyes! Just beware that is also highly poisonous! I joke obviously I wouldn’t encourage the use of something like deadly nightshade! Although it is an interesting plant so lets have a chat about it.

Starting with the name, the scientific name for deadly nightshade is Atropa belladonna. Belladonna literally means “beautiful lady” and Atropa can be translated to “end of life”. For me that’s plenty enough to stay away from this one (Robertson, 2014). Deadly nightshade comes from the same family of plants as that of potato and tobacco called Solanaceae (NARRATIVE CONTENT GROUP, 2015).

Atropa_belladonna_hands-010The plant has these very edible looking purple berries. They remind me a lot of the nightlock berries from the hunger games series, with quite the similar effect. The berries and the whole rest of the plant contain a cocktail of deadly tropane alkaloids with atropine being a particularly important ingredient. The effects of ingesting this particular cocktail may be slow to arrive at first but it can cause tachycardia, blurred vision, extreme dry mouth and throat. This can then lead to coma and eventual death if left untreated (Robertson, 2014).

Deadly nightshade has been used for several different things. I mentioned the cosmetic uses briefly before. It was used to create drops that dilated the pupils and made the eyes look bigger. Although apparently it had a tendency to cause partial blindness when used in excess. Its also has been used in medicine as pain relief and as a recreational drug because of the plants hallucinogenic properties (Medline Plus, 2015).

To conclude, if you do happen to pick up the wrong berry then it is treatable but get to the docs ASAP! This is one of my favourite plants in the collection due to its diverse background, look out for more of nightshade in my fairyology series.

References

Medline Plus. (2015). Belladonna. Available: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/531.html. Last accessed 07/12/2015.

NARRATIVE CONTENT GROUP. (2015). 13 plants that could kill you.Available: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/photos/13-plants-that-could-kill-you/deadly-nightshade. Last accessed 07/12/2015.

Robertson, J. (2014). Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade. Available: http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/atropa_belladonna.htm. Last accessed 07/12/2015.

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