Have you ever dreamed of looking like a disney princess with your eyes all big and wide and dreamy. Ever thought that you could get that by using a plant?! Well Atropa belladonna can give you those dreamy eyes! Just beware that is also highly poisonous! I joke obviously I wouldn’t encourage the use of something like deadly nightshade! Although it is an interesting plant so lets have a chat about it.
Starting with the name, the scientific name for deadly nightshade is Atropa belladonna. Belladonna literally means “beautiful lady” and Atropa can be translated to “end of life”. For me that’s plenty enough to stay away from this one (Robertson, 2014). Deadly nightshade comes from the same family of plants as that of potato and tobacco called Solanaceae (NARRATIVE CONTENT GROUP, 2015).
The plant has these very edible looking purple berries. They remind me a lot of the nightlock berries from the hunger games series, with quite the similar effect. The berries and the whole rest of the plant contain a cocktail of deadly tropane alkaloids with atropine being a particularly important ingredient. The effects of ingesting this particular cocktail may be slow to arrive at first but it can cause tachycardia, blurred vision, extreme dry mouth and throat. This can then lead to coma and eventual death if left untreated (Robertson, 2014).
Deadly nightshade has been used for several different things. I mentioned the cosmetic uses briefly before. It was used to create drops that dilated the pupils and made the eyes look bigger. Although apparently it had a tendency to cause partial blindness when used in excess. Its also has been used in medicine as pain relief and as a recreational drug because of the plants hallucinogenic properties (Medline Plus, 2015).
To conclude, if you do happen to pick up the wrong berry then it is treatable but get to the docs ASAP! This is one of my favourite plants in the collection due to its diverse background, look out for more of nightshade in my fairyology series.
Medline Plus. (2015). Belladonna. Available: https://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/531.html. Last accessed 07/12/2015.
NARRATIVE CONTENT GROUP. (2015). 13 plants that could kill you.Available: http://www.mnn.com/your-home/organic-farming-gardening/photos/13-plants-that-could-kill-you/deadly-nightshade. Last accessed 07/12/2015.
Robertson, J. (2014). Atropa belladonna, deadly nightshade. Available: http://www.thepoisongarden.co.uk/atoz/atropa_belladonna.htm. Last accessed 07/12/2015.