This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V22", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
To "C.'s" inquiry, in September Monthly, I would say: Probably Paullinia thalictrifolia, is a new comer; at any rate it is a stranger to me, although I am well acquainted with the genus. P. barbadensis is an evergreen climber, a native of Barbadoes, which the industrious tillers of the soil look upon as a troub'esome nuisance. So is P. tetragona a singular square-stemmed variety, with oddly shaped white flowers; it is a pest of the worst kind in the West Indian plantations. P. polyphylla is perhaps the best known kind, and will by many be remembered as an old time hot-house climber, and from which of late years it seems to have been banished. There are a dozen or more species, all evergreen climbers, indigenous to sunny lands, some of which were in cultivation in England as far back as 1739. They belong to the Nat. Ord. Sapindacaea.
Euphorbia piscatoria is well known to the writer, and was introduced into English plant collections in the year of 1777. It is, as most of its congeners are, a very peculiar looking succulent plant, of low growth, and its native habitat is the Canary Isles. The piscatorial islanders make use of the inspissated juice, which is a powerful and dangerous opiate, to stupify fish with, and which are then easily caught when under its narcotic influence. Hence the name E. piscatoria, or fisherman's Euphorbia. It is said to possess a similar property to Cocculus suberosus, better known as C. Indica, which is much used in the adulteration of ale and beer.
With this poison, no doubt, many a big, simple homo is caught, as well as guileless little fishes.