A weird and wonderful garden quiz

The days are longer, but the snow is deeper. While we wait out February and March, here’s a true/false garden quiz to amuse you.

  1. If you know how, you can grow a vampire orchid.
  2. Plant an onion, and you may find it “walking” to a new spot.
  3. The oldest living thing on earth is a tree.
  4. Gin, the liquor, is named after a plant.
  5. At one time, people would have nothing to do with tomatoes. They were thought to be a deadly poison.
  6. Passion flowers got their name because they’re aphrodisiacs, inspiring passion in lovers.
  7. Your barbecued corn on the cob has something in common with lawn grass.
  8. The mandrakes in the Harry Potter books are real.
  9. Hemp once helped the Allies win the Second World War.
  10. You can grow wolfsbane, favourite herb of scary movies and TV shows, in your garden.
Could these sweet little tomatoes ever hurt anyone? Take Mary Fran McQuade’s garden quiz, above, and find out the answer below. PHOTO: Mary Fran McQuade
Could these sweet little tomatoes ever hurt anyone? Take Mary Fran McQuade’s garden quiz, above, and find out the answer below.
PHOTO: Mary Fran McQuade


  1. True:They’re rare and not easy to grow, but flowers of the orchid Dracula vampira show tiny fangs in a face with mesmerizing eyes.
  1. True:The Egyptian walking onion sends up tall shoots that develop baby bulbs at their tops. When they’re big and heavy enough, the tops arch down, and the new bulbs take root, allowing the plant to “walk” across the garden.
  1. True:A bristlecone pine tree in California is 4,841 years old, the oldest original organism on earth.
  1. True: Gin was first identified nearly five centuries ago in Holland, where it was called Genever, after the juniper berries used to flavour it.
  1. True: Back in its early days, many people in England and North America wouldn’t eat tomatoes because they were associated with the deadly poison nightshade. Though we now fearlessly gobble tomatoes, don’t ever munch on the foliage, which is toxic.
  1. False: It’s named after the suffering, or passion, of Jesus. Looking at the flower, you can spot the three nails of the cross, the five wounds of Jesus, a spikey-seeming crown of thorns and 10 outer petals representing the 10 faithful apostles (omitting Peter, who denied knowing Jesus in the Bible story of the crucifixion, and Judas).
  1. True: Corn started out as a wild grass in Mexico about 9,000 years ago.
  1. True: Mandrake, AKA Mandragora, is a real plant grown for hundreds of years and used in magic, medicine, and as a poison. The roots are shaped a bit like the human body and were thought to scream when pulled up – which explains the squealing babies in the Harry Potter series.
  1. True: A 1942 U.S. government film encouraged farmers to grow 50,000 acres of seed hemp, to be used in ropes for battleships and other boats, sail cloth, parachute rigging and thread in soldiers’ shoes.
  1. True indeed: Wolfsbane, AKA monkshood or aconite, is a late-blooming perennial with beautiful blue flowers that you can grow from seed or started plants. All parts of it are poisonous, so don’t try any werewolf experiments.



  • Seven or more correct: Two green thumbs up!
  • Four to six correct: One green thumb up
  • Fewer than four correct: Time to do more digging!


Mary Fran McQuade is a hobby gardener and freelance writer

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