Horrible Keys

Robin Panza panzar at CLPGH.ORG
Sun Sep 3 17:17:21 CDT 1995

One of my "favorites" is from Munz--A California Flora and supplement.

In the "Umbelliferae", the couplet

Plants annual (if perennial, with celery odor and taste).
Plants perennial or biennial.

I know someone who wasn't sure if the plant was annual.  It didn't smell like
celery, so she tasted it.  It was Conium (poison hemlock).  She managed to
make it home before she collapsed.  She was hospitalized with paralysis for a
couple of weeks, and continued to have nerve and muscle problems for weeks
after.  All she'd done was touch it to her tongue, spit it out and wash out her
mouth (it's apparently quite vile-tasting).  Any couplet that can kill a
beginner by its ambiguity gets my vote for worst.

Robin Panza                      panzar at clp2.clpgh.org
Section of Birds
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
4400 Forbes Ave.
Pittsburgh  PA  15213

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