TV chef Worrall Thompson recommends deadly weed as salad ingredient

Antony Worrall Thompson says sorry after mistakenly recommending poisonous plant as part of healthy living regime

The celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson today apologised after mistakenly recommending a potentially fatal weed as part of a healthy living regime.

In an interview in the latest issue of Healthy and Organic Living magazine, the TV cook suggested that the weed, called henbane, would make a tasty addition to salads.

Speaking from Spain, where he is on holiday, Worrall Thompson said he had confused it with the fat hen weed, which has edible leaves that can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.

Worrall Thompson's mistake went unnoticed until after the magazine had gone on sale.

The magazine's editor, Kate Collyns, sent subscribers an urgent warning saying that henbane "is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten".

Worrall Thompson said: "I was thinking of a wild plant with a similar name, not this herb. It's a bit embarrassing, but there have been no reports of any casualties. Please do pass on my apologies."

Experts said anyone who had followed his advice and created a salad with henbane should seek medical help and may have their stomach pumped.

Henbane, a close relative of deadly nightshade and often known as stinking nightshade because of its pungent odour, has sticky serrated leaves and funnel-shaped yellow flowers.

Its name means killer of hens and it can cause hallucinations, drowsiness and disorientation in humans.

Larger quantities can cause a loss of consciousness, seizures, trembling of the limbs and, in extreme cases, death.

The murderer Hawley Harvey Crippen is thought to have used seeds from the henbane plant to kill his wife, Cora, at their London home in 1910.
A good portion would probably cause significant gastrointestinal difficulties, with a larger dose being fatal.


Anil Dawar and agencies

The GuardianTramp

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