Toxic Beauty, SLR/IRL

Growing up in Stuart in the 1970s, my mother and father gave me full reign to explore the undeveloped lands in the area of St Lucie Estates. I remember endless summers, wandering around in “the woods” and of course my eyes were drawn to the vine of the widely dispersed, perfectly shaped, red and black seeds known as rosary peas.

I would collect them tightly in my little, sweaty hands, pushing them far down into my pockets. I recall the first time I brought them home, my mother said, “Yes, they are very pretty, but don’t eat them, they are poisonous.”

“Hmmm,”I thought. “How can something beautiful be poisonous?”

I continued to collect the seeds, and over the years filled up many clear glass bottles that sat in my window sill; the sun never fading their brilliant color.

Later in life, I learned that bright color patterns, especially red, black, and yellow, as with some caterpillars, or the famous, shy, and deadly coral snake, are “warnings” in nature and actually provide the animal with protection from being eaten.

As I walk through Hawk’s Bluff today, I am thankful to my parents who allowed me to explore the natural world and grow confident, unafraid, even with all of its toxic beauty.

http://floridahikes.com/savannas-preserve-hawks-bluff

Rosary pea, known many other names: https://plants.ifas.ufl.edu/plant-directory/abrus-precatorius/

Colors in Nature: http://flnps.org/color-nature

11 thoughts on “Toxic Beauty, SLR/IRL

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  2. Oh, Jacqui ~ Thank you for this refreshing post ! I was mindful of my thoughts a few days ago and remembered those rosary peas; Nan Billings at Heathcote Botanical Gardens taught her young naturalists that they are highly toxic. When I taught my Art in Nature camps at the Oxbow Eco Center – that was one of the first things I shared with students. They are truly beautiful to behold (they look like lady bugs) but BEWARE because they contain abrin. Even if one seed is ingested (chewed) it can be fatal to both children and adults. THANKS FOR THE WARNING. ♥

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