Botany in Romeo and Juliet

Richard Jensen rjensen at SAINTMARYS.EDU
Mon Sep 12 10:16:01 CDT 2005


Dirk's quite right.  But...Daphne toxins are not cardiac toxins.  Besides, the
size of the flowers is relative; while Daphne flowers are smaller than oleander
flowers, oleander flowers are smaller than Liriodendron flowers.

Nevertheless, Daphne is probably a better choice.

Dick J.



Dirk Albach wrote:

> Nerium is not really a small-flowered species. What about Daphne mezereum?
> common in English woodlands, small fragrant flowers, and quite toxic, with a
> name that can inspire a poet.
>
> Dirk
>
> >
> > Let's try Nerium oleander.  It produces very toxic cardiac glycosides and,
> > in
> > at least some cultivated forms, can be quite fragrant.  It's also native
> > to
> > the Mediterranean region, so it could easily have been known to
> > Shakespeare.
> >
> > Dick J.
> >
> > Martin Dubé wrote:
> >
> > > Here is a question for those fellow botanists versed in Shakespeare's
> > > writings (what I am not, obviously). This was first sent to me by a
> > > certain Mr. Simons living in Ontario, Canada.
> > >
> > > ...........
> > > 'In December I will be playing the role of Friar Laurence in a local
> > > amateur production of Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet".  This character
> > is
> > > a Franciscan friar and botanist who attempts to use both his spiritual
> > > wisdom and his scientific knowledge to help Romeo and Juliet (to no
> > avail,
> > > as everyone knows.)
> > >
> > > In his very first speech in the play (Act II Scene 3), the friar is
> > giving
> > > a lecture on botany, which also extends into philsophy and psychology.
> > He
> > > introduces his student to the concepts he is teaching by showing him a
> > > plant, which he describes as follows:
> > >
> > > "Within the infant rind of this small flower
> > > Poison hath residence, and medicine power
> > > For this, being smelled, with that part cheers each part
> > > Being tasted, stops all senses with the heart."
> > >
> > > Just on the chance that there might be a real botanist in the audience,
> > I
> > > would like to identify and use on stage a plant which matches this
> > > description.  That would mean some part of it would be fatally (or at
> > > least seriously) poisonous and it would have a small flower whose scent
> > an
> > > aromatherapist would consider restorative.'
> > > ...........
> > >
> > > Thanks in advance.  Yours answers will be forwarded to that amateur
> > actor.
> > >
> > > Martin
> >
> > --
> > Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
> > Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
> > Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
> > Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen
> >
>
> --
> Dr. Dirk Albach
> Institut für Spezielle Botanik
> Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz
> Bentzelweg 9b
> 55099 Mainz
>
> Tel.: +49 (0)6131 3923169
> Fax.: +49 (0)6131 3923524

--
Richard J. Jensen              | tel: 574-284-4674
Department of Biology      | fax: 574-284-4716
Saint Mary's College         | e-mail: rjensen at saintmarys.edu
Notre Dame, IN 46556    | http://www.saintmarys.edu/~rjensen




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