Recently, France’s hydrangeas have been getting picked clean. It is not for some garden expo or to sabotage local competitors in local “Best Yard” contests. Strangely enough, it is to get high.
Perhaps it is not so strange, though. France has been hit with some pretty tough times like much of the rest of the European Union. Certain breeds of hydrangeas, pharmacists confirmed, have properties similar to THC, the chemical in pot that gets a person high. It therefore acts as a similar, cheaper alternative.
This is not unique to France, though. In fact, it is thought that the trend first started in the German region of Bavaria, where hydrangeas (also known as “hortensia”) have been raided regularly.
However, this is a really, really bad idea.
First of all, not all species of hydrangeas produce the effect addicts are looking for. Trial and error is generally a bad idea when dealing with unknown substances. It is especially bad when the substances are known to cause stomach and breathing problems, increased heart rate, dizzy spells, and a little thing called prussic acid.
What is prussic acid? That is the second reason smoking hydrangeas is a bad idea. Prussic acid is another name for hydrogen cyanide. Sound familiar? It should. It was the base for Zyklon B—the poison gas the Nazis used to kill millions of people less than a century ago. Hydrogen cyanide causes slow, painful death, so it is something most sane individuals try to avoid.
Hydrangeas produce hydrogen cyanide naturally. That does not take into account the countless pesticides and fertilizers used to ensure the plant survives to the nursery from where it is purchased. Landscaping and farming are held to far different standards. After all, if something is just meant to look pretty, that is pretty simple. However, if something is meant for ingestion to sustain human life, some compounds might not be acceptable when put on the dinner table compared to others.
Not to mention that this is still a relatively new trend. In other words, there has not been a lot of research done to determine what the long-term consequences are, although most officials and experts agree that it cannot be good.
Yet, people still do it.
Too often, we hear people say, “Marijuana addiction doesn’t exist.” We have seen plenty of evidence that suggests otherwise. Logically, if marijuana was not addictive on at least some level, there would be no drive to substitute its effects. Yet, here we are.
While some people might go the hydrangea route on the basis of novelty, but that does not explain why the disappearance of these plants is a growing and continuous problem. Plus, let’s face it: addicts are not particularly known for their consideration of their own well-being.
Nevertheless, here we are.
Addiction is a cruel and illogical beast. We can try to explain it away, explain what it is and what isn’t, but it follows no rules—only those of more and faster.
Do you have any experience with hydrangeas (outside of gardening, obviously)? Let us know in the comments!