Wicked Plants: The Exhibit at NC Arboretum
According to author Amy Stewart, “Some people dream about their book getting made into a movie, but I dream about it getting made into a traveling cabinet of wonders.” Stewart’s dream is coming true as Wicked Plants: The Exhibit opens at The North Carolina Arboretum on Saturday, May 5.
The 4,000-square-foot exhibit will introduce visitors to the evildoers lurking in their own backyards and beyond. Inspired by Stewart’s book Wicked Plants: The Weed that Killed Lincoln’s Mother and other Botanical Atrocities, the exhibit gives visitors a hands-on experience with some of the world’s most diabolical botanicals—without the risk of intoxication, addiction, dismemberment, or other danger. Menacing interactive displays set in an eerie environment are designed to educate and entertain children and adults with information about some of Mother Nature’s most appalling creations.
Designed to educate the public and increase science literacy, Wicked Plants exposes plants associated with a myriad of negative health effects, including addiction, obesity, allergies, pain, poisoning, cognitive impairment, organ failure, and even death. Showcasing more than 100 plants, the exhibit takes an open-ended approach to health education, providing visitors with an opportunity to weigh the risks of utilizing specific wicked plants.
Visitors will step into a macabre world where plants hold the power. Poisonous, carnivorous, or just plain nasty, the diabolical botanicals represented throughout Wicked Plants are shown in all their fearful glory. Guests will be introduced to infamous plants that have left their mark on history and claimed many an unfortunate victim.
Upon entering a decrepit old home, guests will be introduced to the crime family of the plant world, the deadly Nightshades. A veritable rogue’s gallery features portraits of these intriguing characters who beguile unsuspecting victims. In the conservatory, weeds of mass destruction have taken over, while a crime scene in the potions laboratory teaches that things aren’t always what they seem, especially in the plant world.
A supper served in the dining room could be a visitor’s last. Guests will discover that even the most mundane foods can be poisonous under certain circumstances. The terrible toxicodendrons in the parlor can really get under a visitor’s skin. From poison ivy to poison arrows, the collection of weaponry in the hallway uses plant derivatives to immobilize and even kill prey.
The social misfits of the plant world are relegated to the bathroom. Visitors will find botanicals that smell foul, and even some that catch fire. Plants in the yard are on the offensive: some secrete sap, some produce exploding fruit, and some have stems that embed into skin. Unruly and altogether mean, these plants are on the attack.
Wicked Plants will be on display at the Baker Exhibit Center through September 3. The exhibit will be open to the public during regular Baker Exhibit Center hours: 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. daily. Admission is free with standard parking fee ($8 per personal vehicle). Admission and parking is always free for Arboretum Society members.
Wicked Plants is supported in part by Smoky Mountain Living magazine and R.E.A.C.H. (Regional Emergency Animal Care Hospital) of Asheville. After completing its run at the Arboretum, the exhibit will begin a national tour of botanical gardens, museums, and science centers. For more information, please call (828) 665-2492 or visit www.ncarboretum.org. The central mission of The North Carolina Arboretum, an affiliate institution of the 17-campus University of North Carolina system, is to cultivate connections between people and plants.