Stinkweed and other odd plants

Charleston has always been a natural garden, and some of the plants that have grown here or were introduced from other areas have some peculiar nicknames and histories. The “popcorn tree” is very common, a nickname for the Chinsese Tallow tree. It’s berries are waxy-colored and look like popcorn and thus the name. They were once used for making candles, but today the berries are commonly woven into sweetgrass baskets by the weavers along city sidewalks. The “cast iron plant” is the nickname for another Asian species, the Aspidistra. This wide-leafed plant grows well in sunless areas and with little water and thus the monicker that suggests it will survive anything. “Stinkweed” was perhaps the most colorful name for a Charleston bush, referring to the odiferous Jimson Weed that was once found growing wild on the Charleston peninsula. The Jimson Weed is toxic to animals, and an city ordinance passed in the 18th century required people to remove it from their property.

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