14 February 2014

"Ergot, the toxic fungus that infects rye and contaminates bread, could explain the girls' [Salem witch trial girls] bizarre behavior.
Ergot is a parasitic fungus that attaches itself to a flowering cereal grass like rye or wheat. It flourishes in damp conditions and possesses the special trick of eing able to mimimc the very grain it has infected. It forms a hardened mass called a sclerotium on its host and can nurture dormant spores until the conditions are just right to release them. ..
The alkaloids in ergot contrict blood vessels, causing seizures, nausea, uterine contractions...Long before Albert Hofmann extracted lysergic acid from ergot to make LSD, people infected with ergotism had bad LSD-like tripe of their own. ..."

Wicked Plants : The weed that killed Lincoln's mother & other botanical atrocities
Amy Stewart

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