Is it Toxic?

I often use dried plant parts in my work. Typically the plants must have some interesting tactile quality, be toxic, and have a cultural myth or superstition. I was looking through a stash of dried plant parts and found some Haworthia limifolia leaves. They have great texture with sharp and pointy tips.


I googled Haworthia limifolia looking for information. I was a bit disappointed that the plant isn’t toxic. Apparently it is often used in place of Aloe for skin ailments. I did find a line that popped up in several articles, “Haworthia limifolia is often used by traditional healers as a spiritual remedy to ward off evil.” Curious. What kind of evil?

I have a contact at the UC Botanical Garden so I sent him an email inquiry about the plant. The plant is one that he gave to me several years back. He sent me a pdf of an article that I hadn’t read, Lightning Birds and Thunder Trees authored by Adrian Koopman. The article states that Haworthia is used as a charm to protect against lightning.

We don’t see much in the way of lightning where I live. Before reading about the plant’s reference to lightning, I had already bound the bits to a piece of hardware cloth to become part of a lid. My work must have the appearance of a life lived, so I age the work using one or more techniques–wax, heat, fire, salt, molten sugar, chemicals… and sometimes I bury the work.

Haworthia for Lid

The Haworthia bits are bound to the hardware cloth with cotton and bamboo fiber which works great with all of the techniques.

A few lightning information links–

S.A. Weather and Disaster Information Service, South Africa

Global Hydrology and Climate Center

Mortality Statistics–Victim of lightning by country

NOAA National Severe Storms Laboratory

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