Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Mt Morris

I make use of our local hill. Just south of us is Marcus Garvey Park, formerly called Mt Morris Park; the immediate neighborhood is still known as Mt Morris. The hill - a great chunk of rock - has lots of eroding stone steps which are good for a cardiovascular boost.  I run up, I walk down. I run up. And I stop for plants, like the goldenrod, above.

And the black nightshade berries. Do not tell me they are poisonous. They are perfectly edible and quite good, like slightly sweet tomatoes. Solanum nigrum. You'll notice how the fruit grows in a little cluster, like grapes or currants. The deadly nightshade you are right this minute freaking out about, has fruit borne singly, with a conspicuous five point calyx (the green leafy bits between stalk and fruit,  absent in black nightshade) - Atropa belladonna is the one you don't want to eat.

Nor do you want to eat pretty Solanum dulcamara - climbing nightshade, bittersweet - twining up late summer fences like pretty patio lights.

So, if you like plants, there is always something to see. Also some solitary men - it's one of those parks; and the cops, yet again, arresting someone very quietly, yet again. Low level drugs, maybe, or soliciting, who knows? And people splashing about down below in the great big turquoise swimming pool. And children with their nannies on the lawn, and the sleeping homeless, and the chess-playing old timers, and the two teenagers with whom I'm now on greeting terms, practising their gumboot dance moves on a deserted stone landing. It's a very well used park.

I turned west when I could run no more, and went to buy wine from the Eritreans on Lenox Avenue.

                                                       The August sky said September.

The roofs said we have cellphone signal.

Wee, wee, wee. All the way home.


  1. I'm glad you're feeling at home. Xo $

  2. Thank you for the explanation regarding nightshades. I have a question regarding the varieties with poisonous berries: Do you know whether their leaves and stems are also harmful? I have a climbing one repeatedly sprouting up next to my fence that borders my neighbor's walkway, and my neighbor seems afraid of it. I've never thought it poisonous myself and never experienced any ill effects from handling it.

  3. All parts of A. belladonna are toxic. Roots probably are the most toxic but the berries are the most dangerous as they look edible. I have never heard that the toxins (tropane alkaloids) can be dermally adsorbed but don't know for certain.


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