When Unusual Historicals put out the call for contributors to write about plants and their properties, I embraced the theme. After all, I enjoy gardening, so much that my south picture window has every inch crammed with greenery in the winter.

I was overwhelmed with choice. In the days before air fresheners, medieval people used strewing herbs such as thyme and mint to make their homes smell nice. Common dyes for clothes came from plants. And of course their diets depended on grains, fruits, and vegetables along with flavoring from the herb garden.

So what do I chose to write about? Hemlock, nightshade, and aconite – three poisons that appear in my forthcoming book, The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar. If you share my morbid curiosity, visit Unusual Historicals and learn more.

The Death of Socrates by Giambettino Cignaroli (1706–1770)

The Death of Socrates by Giambettino Cignaroli (1706–1770)