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Deadly Nightshade (Belladonna)

Name 

"Atropa Belladonna" is the Latin for this unusual plant. The great naturalist, Linneaeus, named it this; he is reputed to have been so familiar with the nature and properties of plants that he was almost always able to find amazingly appropriate names for them.

Atropa Belladonna is a good example of this because the generic name refers to the Greek Fate Atropos, the inflexible one, who cuts the thread of life. The species name is somewhat debated about; "Belladonna" is Spanish for ‘beautiful woman’ and also means the same in Italian. It most probably refers to the fact that ladies in the Spanish and Italian court used the juice of the plant which contains atropine, dissolved in water, and ingested, to dilate their pupils to make them look more dreamy and beautiful.

Description

Native to central and southern Europe. Light green plant likes plenty of shade. Bell shaped flowers give way to large, soft, shining black berries with purple juice. All parts of the plant are potentially toxic. Dry leaf contains atropine and scopalamine which are narcotic and antispasmodic in effect. A very charming and insidious plant.

Cultivation

Extra care. Soak seed for one day in water at room temperature, chill for 24 hours, then sow in the greenhouse. Likes partial to full shade. Space plants 2 feet apart. Grows 2 to 3 feet tall. Deadly nightshade has gone by many names, including belladonna, Devil's cherries, Naughty Man's cherries and Devil's Herb. The plant can take on the form of an enchantress of great beauty. The plant requires rich, moist soil, plenty of fertilizer and a weed free environment.

Medical properties

Atropa belladona is extremely poisonous.Deadly nightshade is another name given to belladonna. It is a highly toxic plant 

Toxins are present in all parts of the plant; especially in the seeds, roots and leaves.

It has been known for centuries as a poison, and is also used as a source for some medicines, such as hyoscyamine, but it is too dangerous to use except by trained physicians.

The symptoms from belladonna poisoning include a dry mouth and hot, flushed skin, nausea, convulsions, and delirium.

Homoeopaths prescribe Belladonna for illnesses that have similar symptoms. All parts of the belladonna plant are used in the Homoeopathic remedy. The plant is crushed and pressed with the juice mixed with alcohol to dilute it. 

 

 

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