None of the plants in Addergoole’s grotto were, technically, toxic. That is, they might cause you to have convulsions, visions, insomnia, narcolepsy, or possibly just a warm and fuzzy feeling, but they would not kill you — or, at least, they wouldn’t kill an ordinary human or Ellehemaei child. Some of the Changes, normal air would kill them, and Valentina could not speak for her plant life in those cases.
She enjoyed encouraging experimentation and enjoyed more watching the results of the experimentation. After all, every plant in the grotto was the result of“hey, what happens if…?” — Hers and Laurel Valerian’s, mostly, although students other staff had put in their ideas from time to time. Isabella Even-hand in the kitchen had the most brilliant ideas. Most of her plants lived up in the orchard or the sunlight gardens, but there were a couple, including the Angry Peach, that deserved their place in the grotto — and made the most aggressive desserts.
“Hey.” One spikey-haired first-year student flopped down on the soft moss next to another first-year, lanky and dark-clad and serious-looking. “Have you tried chewing on the purple leaves? They make sort of a tingling feeling, and then you just don’t feel anything at all for a while.”
Emotional numbness, Valentina wrote, in her unseen perch up in a prickly-pear tree. She’d been growing the purple-leafed plant for its bark and the bast fibers in its stem.
“Don’t feel anything at all? Sounds better than those yellow berries. Give it here.”
Long-term effects? She’d have to keep an eye on these two.
Eventually in xenobotany, no matter how many instruments you brought, no matter how many experiments you did, there came the time for human trials.
There were jokes about xenobotanists the way that there had once been jokes about hatters, and for similar reasons; most of them tested things on themselves first. And Calin was no different — except that 4-13-3 was a particularly fun planet when it came to botany. Almost everything there either wanted to kill you or make you wander off in a haze, possibly off the nearest cliff. And some of the psychotropic and sedative elements didn’t show up in any of their chemical tests.
“Hey.” Calin bumped hips with Efor, their xenobiologist. “Have you tried chewing on these leaves? I think these are it. No visions, no blindness, no paranoia — or is there?” she joked, weakly and more out of habit than any thought that the jape was still funny. “The stem is starchy and a bit bitey, like mustard, and it’s rich in iron and— what?”
“Calin. Calin, you’re on my lap. You don’t even like me. And you are on. My Lap.”
“Well.” She pried herself carefully to her feet. “Back to the drawing board. Or we call it good and accept a population boom.”
Efor gave her a considerate look. “Come talk to me after you’ve been chewing on the clear-head celery you found, why don’t you? And we can discuss population surges and Love Kale.”