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Re: HYB: the toothpick thing

  • To: Multiple recipients of list <iris-l@rt66.com>
  • Subject: Re: HYB: the toothpick thing
  • From: bills@tiger.hsc.edu (Bill Shear)
  • Date: Thu, 3 Apr 1997 10:39:27 -0700 (MST)

I'm afraid I'd need a little more data than Tom Magee's "realization"
before attributing Neva Sexton's death and his stomach problems to the
ingestion of minute amounts of oxalic acid in iris pollen!  Oxalic acid is
a very common phytochemical, and you would get thousands of times larger a
dose from eating a green salad than you would from almost any amount of
iris pollen.

How about those hundreds (maybe) of hybridizers who DIDN'T get stomach
problems from ingesting pollen?

The common house-plant called 'Dumb Cane' is very high in oxalic acid.  A
little bit of the juice on the tongue can temporarily paralyze the vocal
cords (hence the name).  But even if iris pollen were pure oxalic acid (and
of course we need some evidence that oxalic acid is found in pollen), you'd
need to suck in large quantities of it to get any appreciable affect.

Did either Sexton or Magee experience vocal cord paralysis after licking

Sounds like the iris equivalent of an "urban legend."

Bill Shear
Department of Biology
Hampden-Sydney College
Hampden-Sydney VA 23943
FAX (804)223-6374

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