The following are some facts about Hen and Chick Plant:
Hens and Chick Plants Death Bloom
Heartsweet (Helianthus annuus) – The Heart Suckers (or Heart Stealers)
Henbane (Matricaria recutita) – The Red Devil
Chickweed (Cyperus rotundifolia) – The Yellow Devil
Chickweed is one of the most toxic plants known to man. It’s called “Yellow Devil” because it produces yellowish purple berries which contain deadly alkaloids. These poisonous berries are so potent that they kill within hours if ingested.
If not eaten soon after ingestion, the effects may last up to two days or longer depending upon the dosage taken.
The leaves of Henbane are used in Chinese medicine as a cure for all kinds of ailments including fever, headache, cough, sore throat and stomach ache. The leaves have been used to treat diarrhea, dysentery, malaria and other diseases.
In Europe, the plant was used medicinally for centuries before being banned due to its high toxicity. In India, the plant is still commonly used as a poison ivy remedy.
It is believed that these plants were originally cultivated in China around 3000 B.C., but their cultivation there ceased when European explorers arrived there in 15th century A.D..
Since then, they have also been grown in the United States and other countries.
Chickens are not harmed by hens and chicks plants. Contrary to popular belief, even touching the plant does not harm them. So, you do not have to worry about your pet chickens or children mistakenly eating these plants.
The flower dies after it blooms. The petals remain on the plant and dry up into a brown, papery shell that looks like a sac or a pod.
A Death-Bloom is an uncommon occurrence that happens after a hen and chicks plant produces a single flower after several years of growing. When this happens, the plant will bloom and then immediately die.
Death blooms are very similar in appearance to regular hens and chicks pods that have already bloomed. The main difference is that the Death Bloom has a much larger single bloom. It makes a very large, bright yellow flower with five petals.
Each one of these petals has a spiky, thorn-like shape to it.
Death blooms are incredibly rare. In fact, they are so unusual that many hens and chicks growers will never experience one during their lifetime.
There is no sure way to tell if a plant will produce a death bloom or not. It is a random occurrence. However, there are several scientific theories about what causes a hen and chicks plant to bloom into a death bloom.
Some people think it has something to do with the amount of sunlight that the plant is exposed to. Others believe that it has to do with the soil ph or the water that the plant is given. The most common theory is that the plant simply reaches a certain age.
Most plants that bloom into death blooms are at least five or six years old.
If a hen and chicks plant does bloom into a death bloom, the pod will be larger than a normal one. It may also produce several smaller pods after the larger one blooms. Whatever the cause, every hens and chicks grower dreams of finding a Death-Bloom.
If you find one, you are sure to become very rich.
Simply because of their dangerous nature and the fact that few people ever see one, death blooms have become a source of superstition and legend in several parts of the world.
In England, it is believed that finding a Death-Bloom growing naturally is an omen of death to the finder. In some places, the plant is called “The Devil’s Eye.” Others call it “Blood Root.”
In the jungles of South America, tribes of Indians think that Death-Blooms are magical. They hold various rituals involving the plant and use its sap in potions and spells. Shamans will often use it to produce a sleep-like trance in other tribe members.
The Death-Bloom is a sacred plant to these Indians.
Despite its deadly nature, many of hens and chicks abilities can be useful for medical research. The plant’s blood thinner qualities are used in making certain types of medicine. Also, the plant can be ground up and used as a salve to reduce swelling and inflammation.
Death blooms are especially useful since the poison that they produce can be isolated from other compounds found in the plant and turned into a powerful pain killer. It is more powerful than morphine, but it is also more dangerous if not treated immediately.
The pod you found today is the biggest one you have ever seen. You’re not even going to try eating it. You are worried that even grinding up a little piece and putting it in something might still kill you.
Instead, you are going to go show it to your friends.
After all, what are friends for if not to see your amazing discoveries?
“Holy Crap! It’s huge!” Kane says when he sees the pod.
What’s it do? Give me superpowers?”
“No, it’ll kill you,” you say.
“Cool!” the twins say in unison.
You leave them to go stare at the pod and go find your dad. He is in his office, as usual. He owns a small tool and machine shop right in town.
It isn’t the most high-paying job, but he gets by.
Hey dad, what’s this plant called?”
you ask, showing him the pod.
Your dad takes a glance at it and his face becomes white. He looks very worried all of a sudden.
Where did you find this? Did you put your hands on it?”
“Yeah. It was out behind Mr. Reynolds’ house.
It was just lying there on the ground,” you say.
“Oh crap. We have to get rid of it right now!” he says.
Why? What is it?
It looks cool.”
You don’t know anything, do you?
That’s a death bloom and it’s dangerous. It only blooms once every few years and it’s poisonous. Anyone who has touched it and put their hands on another person or something else are now poisoned.”
“No! Of course not! I’m not going to let you play around with something I don’t know anything about!
Now come on, we’re getting rid of it.”
You and your dad head outside and throw the plant on the curb. You notice all your friends are gone. You hope they didn’t touch anything after you left.
You and your Dad go back into the house and he locks all the doors and windows. He says you’ll be staying inside for a few days until they’re sure nothing is poisonous.
While your dad is busying yourself inside, you go back out to the curb and pull the death bloom vines into your hands again. You can’t help but notice a beautiful golden ring tangled in the vines. It looks old and expensive.
If you bring it to Mr. Reynold’s he’ll probably give you a reward!
The choice is yours…
Sources & references used in this article:
Social learning of food preferences by white-tailed ptarmigan chicks by T Allen, JA Clarke – Animal Behaviour, 2005 – Elsevier
Why bamboos wait so long to flower by DH Janzen – Annual Review of Ecology and systematics, 1976 – annualreviews.org
A pollen tube growth stimulatory glycoprotein is deglycosylated by pollen tubes and displays a glycosylation gradient in the flower by H Wu, H Wang, AY Cheung – Cell, 1995 – Elsevier
Bradleya 24 by R Gorelick – Cactus and Succulent Journal, 2007 – BioOne
The Organ Pipe Cactus by R WAGNER – Cactus and Succulent Journal, 2007 – BioOne
Effects of organic and inorganic fertilizers on marigold growth and flowering by C De, R Prado, B a Park – 1989
The potential of South African indigenous plants for the international cut flower trade by G Bi, WB Evans, JM Spiers, AL Witcher – HortScience, 2010 – journals.ashs.org
Free-range Chicken Gardens: How to Create a Beautiful, Chicken-friendly Yard by EY Reinten, JH Coetzee, BE Van Wyk – South African Journal of Botany, 2011 – Elsevier