Atropa belladonna

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Atropa belladonna, commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a toxic perennial herbaceous plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes and aubergine (eggplant). It is native to Europe and Western Asia, including Turkey. Its distribution extends from Ireland in the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province of Gilan in the east. It is also naturalised or introduced in some parts of Canada, North Africa and the United States.


  • Ready to take Rats-bane for Sugar, Hemlock for Parsly, and the Berries of deadly Night-shade for Cherries.
  • Night-shade is very dangerous of what sort soever it be, taken either in the Roote, Hearb, or Fruit; All the kinds excite and provoke to sleepe; The Ordinary and Common Night-shade is lesse pernitious: And those which are called Hortensis, and Belladonna, are the most poysonous and mortall, especially their Fruits; Causing terrible Dreames, strange Phansies, Alienation of the Mind, deepe sleepe, &c.
  • I may assure your correspondents, by my own personal testimony, that the plant growing in Furness Abbey, from which, but but probably erroneously, the valley in which it stands is said to have taken its former name, is the true “deadly nightshade,” Atropa belladonna. The other plant known as “nightshade,” and sometimes called “deadly nightshade,” Solanum dulcamara, probably grows there also. It is a very common plant, to be found in all parts of England. But the Atropa grows among the ruins in some abundance, and on my last visit I gathered it in full fruit, its glossy dark purple berries, in shape and colour not unlike a blackheart cherry and with a sweetness of taste by no means disagreeable, presenting a fatal attraction to the ignorant or unwary.
  • BELLADONNA, n. In Italian a beautiful lady; in English a deadly poison. A striking example of the essential identity of the two tongues.


  • Stinking’st of the stinking kind,
    Filth of the mouth and fog of the mind,
    Africa, that brags her foyson,
    Breeds no such prodigious poison,
    Henbane, nightshade, both together,
    Hemlock, aconite—
  • No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
      Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
    Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
      By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
    • John Keats, "Ode on Melancholy" (wr. 1819; pub. 1820)
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