Perfect weather for our second day at the Marshalling Yards, accompanied by the Cambridgeshire bryophyte recorder. He had a thoroughly good time, exploring this fascinating site that is normally off-limits. While he found some of the special plants of the the site, he had already gone by the time I found three plants of Henbane, a species now Vulnerable in the UK, partly because we are generally too tidy - it often grows in scruffy, disturbed areas.
Henbane is one of my favourite species - the flowers look evil, and the plant's covered with sticky noxious smelling hairs. All parts of the plant are highly toxic, the leaves being the most poisonous part of the plant - so much so that there mere smell of the fresh leaves has been found to cause giddiness and stupor in some people. Culpepper comments that "The whole plant more that the root has a very heavy, ill, soporiferous smell, somewhat offensive." The main active agents are several tropane alkaloids - hyoscyamine and hyoscine, from which the plant takes its Latin name, and atropine.