April 25, 2017

May

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Infernal spring trio: Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), wild garlic (Allium ursinum) and autumn crocus (Colchicum autumnale)

As kids, we were warned not to mistake wild garlic for lily of the valley, which is actually rather difficult to accomplish since both plants have their own peculiar odour. Early spring forests reek of garlic long before any lily sprouts! What might prove more fatal is confusing wild garlic with meadow saffron, also called autumn crocus. This bulb flowers only in autumn, so only its leaves are visible in spring and these also look rather similar to wild garlic ones, if not for the latter’s distinct odour. The nose is the best organ to prevent accidental poisoning in real life. In a crime novel, the trio of spring plants might give rise to an infernally devious murder plot.

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Eva Waiblinger

 

Eva Waiblinger, MSc, PhD (Dr. sc. nat.), is a Swiss zoologist and science journalist as well as a member of the Swiss National Ethics Committee for Animal Experiments. She currently works as a Math and Biology teacher at a vocational school. Before that, she has been head of the companion animal welfare department of Swiss Animal Protection SAP for 12 years. She currently writes a biomedical thriller. The remainder of her leisure time is taken up by Goju Ryu karate and the all-female vocal ensemble Qtet she founded.