Deadly Nightshade is a
perennial plant of the UK, typically found growing in chalky grassland and open woodland, to a mature height of up to 150cm.
Deadly Nightshade is a bushy plant with large leaves and has purplish-black, bell-shaped flowers. It bears large berries that ripen to a black colour. Deadly Nightshade, as its name suggests, is a highly poisonous plant and contains the toxins atropine, scopalamine and hyoscyamine. Atropine has a long history of being used for enlarging the pupils of the eye. In the past, this was to make women's eyes appear more attractive (the species name 'belladonna' meaning 'beautiful lady' is a reference to this usage). In more recent times, it has been put to use as an aid for eye examinations.
Botanic classification and naming: Deadly Nightshade is a member of the Nightshade (Solanaceae) family. The genus name
'Atropa' identifies the plant as a Deadly Nightshade, a plant with poisonous berries and its species name 'belladonna' means 'beautiful lady (iris dilating)'.
Concerns: All parts of the Deadly Nightshade are extremely poisonous, especially the berries and roots. The plant contains potent nerve, heart and respiratory toxins. Note that the plant should not be used to attract Honey bees, as honey produced from the plant's nectar may be toxic.