POTENTIALLY poisonous flowers have been removed from Royal Wootton Bassett after being mistakenly planted by a group of Brownies.
Amateur photographer Mike McKee made the discovery after spotting the unusual looking red flowers last week in Jubilee Park.
His research showed they were corncockles, which were thought to have been eradicated from the UK but have been making a return in recent months.
Contact with the flower is potentially harmful. Royal Wootton Bassett Town Council fenced the area off before cutting back the plants.
“I first noticed them last Thursday and there were around 15 to 20 there in a group,” said Mike. “I had absolutely no idea what they were at first – I just saw them there and they looked a bit different.
“I looked in my flower book and it said these were scant and very rare, so I did a bit more research on them. When I Googled them I found out they could be deadly.
“They were thought to be extinct, but I believe the Royal Horticultural Society have been selling them in packets and distributing them throughout the UK because they are wild flowers.
“A lot of people want to see wild flowers back again but they don’t realise exactly what is in a packet of mixed seeds. There are probably other places around here where they have been planted, and people will just walk past without noticing a thing. It only gets really nasty if you touch them.”
Mike said the plants were discovered after a Brownie group had planted some new species of wild flower in the area.
“The 2nd Royal Wootton Bassett Brownies planted them and thought they had done a good deed by sowing some wild flowers in the area, but they must have got these things in some of the packets,” he said.
“You can see where they have cut them back, and that is the whole reason they were fencing the area off, to cut the flowers off before they could seed. Hopefully they should not come back again, and they have done the right thing by cutting them back.”
All parts of the plant are poisonous, but the flowers used to be a common feature of many wheat fields, with the seeds likely to have been found in most wheat harvests prior to the 20th century, before which the corncockle was a staple of folk medicine.