RECORD: Pattrick, R. S. 1886. [Recollection of Darwin]. Yew Poisoning. Hardwicke's Science-gossip 22: 191.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe 8.2022. RN1

NOTE: See the record for this item in the Freeman Bibliographical Database by entering its Identifier here. "Pattrick, Saint Reginald 1834-97. Clergyman. BA, Oxford. 1874-97 Vicar of Sellindge, Kent. In 1871 Jul. 18, ED wrote "Mr Pattrick." Records of his visits began again from 1881-94 with a letter written to him in 1895 Jun. 23." (Paul van Helvert and John van Wyhe, Darwin: A companion, 2021.)


[page] 191

Yew Poisoning. — The thanks of all your readers are, I am sure, due to Mr. Modlen for his clear and admirable paper on "The Poisonous Properties of the Yew." The facts cannot be too widely known. Perhaps you will allow me to give my experience as to the effect of yew poisoning on poultry. Last winter a large limb of a yew in the churchyard here was broken off by the weight of the snow. The limb was cut up on the spot, and placed, foliage and all, in the poultry-yard. The fowls immediately began to peck it. Its first effect was to "scour" them considerably — the foliage passing through the alimentary canal without much alteration in colour. They began to mope and lose their feathers, and present altogether a most melancholy appearance; but none of them died. Of course the yew was removed when it was found the fowls were eating it, but they probably had access to it for some days. I do not think the poison interfered with their laying, or with the wholesomeness of the eggs. With regard to the berries, I often used to eat them when a child, but I never crumbled or swallowed the stones, as I was always told that they were poisonous, though the pulp was harmless. There is a female yew on the lawn here which is visited every autumn by haw- finches, which eat the berries, and crack the stones, I suppose for the sake of the kernels. This, and what Mr. Lett tells us in your last issue of mice eating the berries of Solatium dulcamara, reminds me of another fact which bears out the truth of the familiar adage, "One man's meat is another man's poison." The late Mr. Darwin once showed me some beans of strychnos which had been eaten through and through, apparently by the larva of some fly or moth. They had been sent him (he said) by a correspondent to show that some living thing could be nourished on what is to most animals a deadly poison. By-the-bye, may I ask Mr. Lett whether the poisonous property of the berries of Solatium dulcamara is really proved? I see C. A. Johns only speaks of them as "narcotic."

R. S. Pattrick, Sellinge Vicarage, Kent.

 


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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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