Scare as top chef recommends hallucinogenic weed

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Indy Lifestyle Online

The celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson has apologised after he mistakenly suggested using a poisonous plant in recipes.

In a magazine interview, Mr Worrall Thompson said the weed henbane made a tasty addition to salads.

Healthy & Organic Living magazine's website has now issued an urgent warning that "henbane is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten".

Mr Worrall Thompson told reporters he had confused henbane with a plant of a similar name and admitted the mix-up was "a bit embarrassing".

Henbane - Hyoscyamus niger - has sticky serrated leaves, yellow, funnel-shaped flowers and a stale scent.

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.

Hawley Harvey Crippen is thought to have used seeds from the henbane plant to kill his wife Cora at their London home in 1910.

Mr Worrall Thompson is said to have confused henbane with the weed fat hen which has edible leaves which can be used in salads or cooked like spinach.

"I was thinking of a wild plant with a similar name, not this herb," he told reporters.

"It's a bit embarrassing but there have been no reports of any casualties. Please do pass on my apologies."

Healthy and Organic Living magazine's editor Kate Collyns has written to subscribers to warn them about the error and its website gives the advice: "As always, check with an expert when foraging or collecting wild plants."

The interview with Mr Worrall Thompson is in the current issue of the magazine which is on sale now.

Mr Worrall Thompson, who is currently on holiday in Spain, told the Press Association: "I was thinking of a wild plant with a similar name - fat hen not henbane."

He said he had never used henbane in recipes and added: "A small handful of the young leaves of the herb fat hen is one I sometimes."

Mr Worrall Thompson mixed up the names of the plants when he was asked by the magazine if he ever used wild foods in his dishes.

He added: "Healthy and Organic Living has put out a correction. No-one should attempt to use henbane."

Kate Collyns, editor of Healthy and Organic Living magazine, said: "We have issued a correction on our website, sent a letter to our subscribers with our September issue and are printing a correction in our October issue highlighting the mistake, with an apology from Antony and ourselves for any confusion caused.

"We welcome the media interest as it gives us the opportunity to protect more readers from picking the wrong herb by mistake."