Wicked Plants Returns to NC Arboretum

Monarch newly emerged from its chrysalis

By Natasha Anderson

After five years travelling across the US, Wicked Plants, an original exhibit designed and created by The North Carolina Arboretum, returns to the Baker Exhibit Center. The display, which was inspired by Amy Stewart’s bestselling book Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities, will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, September 16, through January 7. The Arboretum will host a reading and book signing by Stewart on Thursday, September 21, from 6–8 p.m.

Wicked Plants gives visitors an understanding of the darker side of botany, but the information is presented in a fun, mysterious way that leaves them searching for more,” says the Arboretum’s marketing and PR manager Whitney Smith.

The interactive exhibit includes two- and three-dimensional elements and allows visitors to travel through the rooms of a Victorian-era manor while learning about the poisonous plants that may be lurking in their own homes or backyards. A crime scene investigation, sniffing stations and a simulated graveyard feature 24 of the most common toxic plants and combine history, science and storytelling to provide an educational experience.

“The show’s mansion setting creates a more immersive format than other educational exhibits,” says Smith. “It allows visitors to learn about plants in a lighthearted, easy-to-understand manner.”

The North Carolina Arboretum is located at 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way, Asheville. Admission to Wicked Plants is free. The Arboretum’s standard parking fees apply. Tickets to the September 21 reading and book signing are $10 for members and $12 for non-members. Parking is included in the ticket price. Extended viewing hours will be available to Winter Lights ticket holders during the nightly holiday light show November 17 through December 31. Learn more at

Monarch Butterfly Day

The Arboretum’s third annual Monarch Butterfly Day, part of a national effort to raise awareness and prevent the species’ decline, will take place on Saturday, September 23, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include monarch releases, crafts, docent-led butterfly house tours, a milkweed sale and a monarch conservation presentation. It will also provide opportunities for children involved in The Arboretum’s ecoEXPLORE youth education initiative to interact with the insects and earn their entomology field badge.

“Children who meet the requirements through ecoEXPLORE will have a chance to place a special sticker on the wings of butterflies and join us as we release them and wish them well on their way to Mexico,” says The Arboretum’s youth education manager Jonathan Marchal. The general public is invited to observe the release and to participate in other Monarch-related activities.

Learn more about Monarch Butterfly Day and ecoEXPLORE at

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