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Deadly Nightshade

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 397 views


The deadly nightshade is not only widespread in Central Europe, but also in Asia and North Africa. They are mainly found in deciduous forests, at forest edges and in forest clearings created by cultivation.


The herbaceous perennial grows up to 200 centimeters high. The leaves are large and ovate with a smooth edge and appear in pairs on the stem (always one larger and one smaller together). The deadly nightshade blooms between June and August. The flowers are individually stalked and brown-purple in colour. From July to October, the perennial bears juicy, juicy berries the size of a cherry, shiny deep black. These taste bland-sweet.

Toxic parts

All parts of the plant are poisonous, including the roots. The main active ingredients are alkaloids, including the so-called atropine. The poison usually gets into the organism by eating the sweet berries. But the poison can also be absorbed through the skin . Three to four berries can be deadly for children and about ten to twelve for adults.

Possible symptoms

The toxic effect occurs within 15 minutes after consumption. Skin reddening, overheating and dry mucous membranes occur. Those affected show restlessness and an urge to move, have hallucinations and are very thirsty. Breathing and heart rate also accelerate. Confusion and convulsions also occur. Typical signs of deadly nightshade poisoning are dilated pupils.

First aid

Fruit that is still in the mouth should be spat out immediately. Drink plenty, preferably water , to dilute the poison. Caution: Do not drink milk because it can increase the toxic effect. If you suspect deadly nightshade poisoning, go to the doctor immediately! If the victim has eaten a lot of berries, call an ambulance on 112.

useful information

In earlier times, dilated pupils were considered beautiful. Women have therefore used the atropine-containing juice of the deadly nightshade to enlarge their pupils (“bella donna” = Italian for “beautiful woman”). In popular belief, the deadly nightshade was also considered a magic plant. It is said to have a lust-enhancing effect. Worn around the neck as an amulet, it is intended to secure the affection of those around it for the wearer.

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