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Atropa Belladonna (solanaceae)


Also known as: Deadly Nightshade

Factual Inf: Has light green leaves and purplish flowers that give way to highly poisonous black berries which have a sweet, deep purple juice. Belladonna acts upon every part of the nervous system, producing active congestion, twitching, convulsions and pain. Eating only 3 berries could kill a child!!!!!
Distilled as an eye drop the poison was used to excite and enlarge the pupil of the eye.
Belladonna today is the source for the drug atropine, used to treat asthma and was used by the USA Government as an antidote for poison gas.
The plant is native to Central and Southern Europe but can now be found in areas of North America, India and Australia.

Plant Folklaw: It is said that women of the 18/19c would rub the leaves of the plant onto their eyes, causing their pupils to dilate; thinking it would give their eyes a dreamy look and make them more attractive. Bella-donna means “beautiful lady”. They also used the berry juice as a blusher. An old superstition is that, at certain times, it takes the form of an enchantress of exceeding loveliness, whom it is dangerous to look upon!!
Through history, Belladonna has been known as a hallucinogenic and to give the feeling of weightlessness…..these properties may explain why witches claim to be able to mount a broom and fly!!

Painting by Pride

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Lovely picture its a lovely close up, yes its interesting and very true, of what you have written according to folk law about witches.

20 Nov, 2009


Hmmmm...I could do with a feeling of weightlessness too Amble...about 2 stone - lessness! LOL!

Great blog...great info...didn't know just HOW poisonous the berries are tho'.:O)

20 Nov, 2009


Atropine was the first drug I had to learn about as a student, and enjoyed reading about what you have just written above. I see it used every day at work, to correct too slow a heart rate (bradycardia) and never fail to be amazed at how quickly it works. Deadly Nightshade's plant "opposite", in my "book" is the Foxglove (Digitalis), which slows the pulse, and is used to treat an overactive heart rate, and irregular ones. Don't know, yet, of any folklore tales associated with this one, or how it got its common name. Now, you've got me wondering!

Fascinating plant subject you have started here, Alice! :-))

22 Nov, 2009

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