The Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory was founded in 2004. It specialises in addressing obscure cases of poisoning, including but not limited to Chinese medicine poisoning, novel psychoactive substances, counterfeit medicines, melamine-tainted formula milk products, as well as conducting blood lead level screening for people affected in the lead in drinking water incident. Among these, sporadic plant poisoning is one of our major challenges. Because of its protean clinical features, timely diagnosis of plant poisoning is very difficult. Worse still, the scope and quality of materials on local poisonous plants is variable. Hence, my team resolved to bridge the gap by compiling a bilingual, illustrated atlas detailing local poisonous plants, supplemented by clinical information and local cases wherever possible. In due course, our frontline partners can use it as reference whenever they come across relevant cases.
It was not until we have started that we realised how ambitious this project is. Imagine hunting all over Hong Kong to track down over a hundred poisonous plants, some being incredibly rare as well! Here, we must thank the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for its full support on this project. Over countless weekends, my team climbed hills, forded streams, and searched high and low, just to capture those plants during the heights of their flowering and fruiting stages. They may be amateur photographers, but they displayed professional standards.
The sleek photographs are certainly fantastic, but the scrupulously composed content is equally invaluable. Not only is every monograph painstakingly scrutinised, there is also much precious information gathered from clinical cases of local plant poisoning. It has been five years of hard work, but I am happy to say that this atlas has now been finalised and published. I sincerely thank each comrade of my team for stretching all their talents to make our dreams come true.
Dr Tony Mak
Chief of Service, Department of Pathology, Princess Margaret Hospital
I am very pleased to witness the publication of the Atlas of Poisonous Plants in Hong Kong—A Clinical Toxicology Perspective. Despite our small geographical size, Hong Kong is rich in biodiversity. Amongst our thousands of plant species, some of them possess medicinal values. Some are poisonous and may lead to a diversity of toxic symptoms and even death in serious cases.
This book is a unique addition to the existing literature on local poisonous plants. Since its commencement in 2004, the Toxicology Reference Laboratory of the Hospital Authority has gained invaluable experience and knowledge in plant poisoning, which results in the publication of this book. The book has gone through rigorous editing and included clear pictures and local poisoning cases which serve as an important reference tool for both the general public as well as healthcare professionals.
The publication of this book has been a long and formidable journey. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the editorial team on its efforts for enriching our understanding of poisonous plants in Hong Kong.
Dr Ko Wing-man
Secretary for Food and Health
I am most delighted to introduce Atlas of Poisonous Plants in Hong Kong—A Clinical Toxicology Perspective complied by our Hospital Authority Toxicology Reference Laboratory (TRL). Every year, our healthcare professionals handle patients with poisoning due to accidental or intentional exposure of plants. Though such exposures may seem trivial to many, occasionally they could lead to poisoning that is severe or even life-threatening. To our public, the risk is generally under-recognised; to our healthcare professionals, the management of such rare occurrences often remains a challenge.
To fill the void, TRL has devoted enormous efforts in this project. This atlas summarised the botanical and toxicological aspects of poisonous plants in Hong Kong, and was illustrated with high-quality photographs and local clinical cases.
My applause to the editors for their endeavour and dedication towards the successful compilation of this book. Our mission—Helping People Stay Healthy—is seen through this work. Without any hesitation, I would recommend this book to the public and healthcare professionals.
Prof John C Y Leong
Chairman of the Hospital Authority
In the past ten years, the Hospital Authority Toxicology Services have dramatically expanded their roles. Not only have the units been synergistic in the furtherance of medical care for poisoned patients, they have also advanced the science of poisoning and provided helpful inputs in safeguarding public health.
It is henceforth my great pleasure to introduce Atlas of Poisonous Plants in Hong Kong—A Clinical Toxicology Perspective, compiled by our Toxicology Reference Laboratory. This work embodies the fusion of medical, analytical, and botanical expertise in a structured and succinct fashion. The collaborative efforts of the editors are enshrined in the well-referenced text paired with the often exquisite photographs. While the present work would certainly assist our clinical colleagues in the evaluation of suspected plant poisoning, it is also of value to horticulturists, botanists, and the society at large.
I congratulate the editors for establishing a milestone in plant toxicology in Hong Kong, and I am sure the present work would serve as an invaluable reference, frequented by clinicians and layman alike.
Dr Leung Pak-yin
Chief Executive of the Hospital Authority
Over the past 40 years, Princess Margaret Hospital has been dedicated to delivering high quality emergency and comprehensive healthcare services. It is also home to the Toxicology Reference Laboratory (TRL) of Hospital Authority. Since its inception in 2004, TRL has been providing support to all public hospitals in managing patients with complex poisoning problems. In particular, the laboratory has tackled numerous poisoning outbreaks of significant public health impact and was awarded the Outstanding Team of Hospital Authority in 2008. The team has published extensively and is renowned on its toxicology services. The unique and rare establishment on Chinese medicinal herb and plant-related poisoning service is one of its niche.
Poisoning by wild plants is not an uncommon encounter in Hong Kong. On the other hand, we have been lacking a reference book that consolidates information on the clinical toxicology of various local poisonous plants. In view of these, TRL has endeavoured to produce this atlas that combines comprehensive evidence-based information with the extensive clinical experience that the laboratory has accumulated over the years. We look forward to this book becoming a useful guide to frontline health professionals.
I have much pleasure in witnessing the growth of TRL in our hospital and the continual development of the toxicology field in Hong Kong. The publication of this book is undoubtedly a result of the dedication and commitment of TRL, as well as the team’s determination to strive for excellence!
Dr Nancy Tung
Cluster Chief Executive of the Kowloon West Cluster