Plant experts were left mystified after a deadly tropical plant, normally found in the Amazon, appeared in an English garden.
Phyllis Abbott, 79, first noticed strange looking shoots sprouting in the flowerbed of her Suffolk garden last Spring.
She and husband George, 84, contacted the Royal Horticultural Society and were shocked to discover the plant was the highly poisonous Datura Stramonium or 'Devil's Snare' and could grow to 12ft high.
Mrs Abbott said: 'It was just a tiny little thing when I found it but it has been growing and growing every since and now it is as high as my chest.
'I have no idea how it got there, I'm completely puzzled.'
The plant, a member of the Deadly Nightshade family, has a poison that causes dry mouth, blurred vision, heart irregularities, hallucinations, and eventually coma and death in severe cases.
It is traditionally used by South American Indians to poison their hunting spears, arrows and fishing hooks and in sacred ceremonies by Hindu monks for its hallucinogenic qualities.
While its arrival is a mystery, the couple have been told the seed may have arrived via bird droppings.
Mrs Abbott, who has nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, said The Royal Horticultural Society explained the plant could be dangerous, but only if the couple didn't handle it properly.
'We are not worried because we know about it now and can keep away from it.' said Mrs Abbott.
'It will stay in my garden until the weekend in case anyone wants to come and see it, but then I am going to cut it down.'
James Armitage of the Royal Horticultural Society, said: 'These plants are not native to Britain and we think their seeds are spread by birds.
'They belong to the same family as Deadly Nightshade and are highly poisonous if eaten.
'If you find one in your garden and have young children or are worried you can dig them up, but you can grow them as ornamental plants.
'It is worth remembering that there are lots of other poisonous plants which are much more common in British gardens, like aconite and yew.'
Datura Stramonium, also known as Devil's Apple, Trumpet or Snare has large, pale, trumpet shaped flowers and spiny pods.
Its leaves give off a pungent nauseating odour and the flowers smell sweet, but both are narcotic and can induce hallucinations or stupor if breathed in for too long.
Its seeds are particularly poisonous if eaten.
By Daily Mail Reporter
August 7, 2009
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