This section is from the book "The Gardener's Monthly And Horticulturist V26", by Thomas Meehan. See also: Four-Season Harvest: Organic Vegetables from Your Home Garden All Year Long.
"A. J. M."says: "Appearances are often deceptive. Educated sense is not always common sense, as it is generally special, rather than general. Hardly two will define poison alike. Poison has some special morbid effect, and some of these effects depend upon idiosyncrasy. The Chinese primrose, in one case I know of, is a horrible irritant, even worse than poison ivy, Rhus toxicodendron; this may be exceptional, some can handle the latter with impunity, they are exceptional. Horses will eat poison ivy sooner than cabbage, and I would sooner eat a leaf of it than a leaf of tobacco, yet should prefer to rub the tobacco leaf on the skin. Poison also depends upon the amount and form in which it is taken. That which will kill a dog may not affect a pig. Peach pips are said to contain prussic acid, yet pigs will fatten on them. When a farmer finds half a dozen lambs helpless and stupid, frothing at the mouth and grinding their teeth, and die from the effect of eating kalmia leaves, he calls it poison.
I should call it poison, until physiologists found some better term to explain these symptoms and effects, even if the chemist should fail to find a trace of prussic acid in the kalmia".
[To be sure, there is some soundness in the popular idea that what is one man's meat, may be another man's poison; and yet there is something specific in the toxic idea, quite distinct from that suggested by our correspondent. King Henry the Eighth is said to have died from a " surfeit of strawberries," but history does not record that he was poisoned. In like manner, if a lot of half-starved sheep or lambs die from a surfeit of kalmia leaves in a snowy time, when they are ravenous for something, we do not know from this that the kalmia is poisonous. - Ed. G. M].