Toxic Beauties 2020
As I do every spring, I gardened in 2020 while isolating from the pandemic. A neighbor, also doing a lot of planting, developed a noxious rash on her legs and arms. We identified (while distancing) a poison sumac sapling that had rooted in her garden, which she had inadvertently brushed against.
That incident prompted me to research plants surrounding us that ranging from uncomfortably irritating to inexorably fatal. Each plant in this series is native to or is cultivated near my Baltimore studio. However, I find it reassuring that humans have live with these species for hundreds of years avoiding illness by becoming informed about their characteristics and treating them with caution. Most of the toxic species are harmful when ingested. Unfortunately,  children and animals are most often the victims.

Mixed Media Paintings 2020
CHRISTINE NEILL Mixed Media Paintings 2020
Jacks, 2020, Watercolor, archival digital print, 21” x 29”

A wildflower native to shady woods of North America. It is moderately toxic if ingested by humans or animals.
CHRISTINE NEILL Mixed Media Paintings 2020
Rodo, 2020, Watercolor, 20” x 15”

A common perennial bush that thrives in North America, the toxicity of honey made by bees that feed on rhododendrons and azaleas has been known since the 4th century BC. The leaves, flowers and nectar are poisonous to humans and lethal to livestock.
CHRISTINE NEILL Mixed Media Paintings 2020
Caladium, 2020, Watercolor, archival digital print

A common garden annual in the Mid-Atlantic. The leaves, stems and bulbs are toxic to humans and animals.
CHRISTINE NEILL Mixed Media Paintings 2020
Castor Bean, 2020, Watercolor, archival digital print

A striking popular but aggressive plant which can grow 10 feet in a season. Its seed balls are brilliant red and spikey. The leaves can cause irritation if merely rubbed against and the seeds are highly poisonous. Yet, I found them planted next to an outdoor dining site as well as along the entrance way to a botanical garden.
CHRISTINE NEILL Mixed Media Paintings 2020
Brugmansia, 2020, Watercolor, archival digital print

Ironically the common name of this plant is Angel Trumpet while all parts of the plants are highly toxic.
Nevertheless, I often found it planted next to outdoor dining areas, the establishments and patrons apparently unaware of their dangers.