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Uses

Toxic parts

The whole plant, and especially the root, is very poisonous[1][2][3][4][5][6]. Even handling the plant has been known to cause problems if the person has cuts or grazes on the hand[1]. The plant is particularly dangerous for children since the fruit looks attractive and has a sweet taste[1]. The toxins are concentrated in the ripe fruit[7].

Edible uses

There are no edible uses listed for Atropa bella-donna.

Material uses

This species has been found to be effective in removing PCB's from the soil and detoxifying them[8]. The plant is more effective in doing this if it is infected with the bacterial parasite Agrobacterium tumefaciens[8].
There are no material uses listed for Atropa bella-donna.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

Although it is poisonous, deadly nightshade has a long history of medicinal use and has a wide range of applications, in particular it is used to dilate the pupils in eye operations, to relieve intestinal colic and to treat peptic ulcers[9]. The plant can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, reducing tremors and rigidity whilst improving speech and mobility[9]. It has also been used as an antidote in cases of mushroom or toadstool poisoning[2]. This is a very poisonous plant, it should be used with extreme caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner[10]. See also the notes above on toxicity.

All parts of the plant are analgesic, antidote, antispasmodic, diuretic, hallucinogenic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative[1][2][11][12][13][6][14][15][16]. The root is the most active part of the plant, it is harvested in the autumn and can be 1 - 3 years old, though the older roots are very large and difficult to dig up[1][2]. The leaves are harvested in late spring and dried for later use[2]. All parts of the plant contain tropane alkaloids[9]. The leaves contain on average 0.4% active alkaloids, whilst the root contains around 0.6%[16]. The alkaloid content also varies according to the development of the plant, being low when the plant is flowering and very high when bearing green berries[16]. These alkaloids inhibit the parasympathetic nervous system which controls involuntary body activities. This reduces saliva, gastric, intestinal and bronchial secretions, as well as the activity of the urinary tubules, bladder and intestines[9]. An extract of the plant has been used as eyedrops. It has the effect of dilating the pupils thus making it easier to perform eye operations[1][17]. In the past women used to put the drops in their eyes in order to make them look larger and thus 'more beautiful'[1][17].

The entire plant, harvested when coming into flower, is used to make a homeopathic remedy[17]. This is used especially in cases where there is localised and painful inflammation that radiates heat[17]. It is also used to treat sunstroke and painful menstruation[10].

Ecology

Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions

Soil builder

Forage

Nothing listed.

Shelter

Nothing listed.

Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in a cold frame. Germination of stored seed is slow and erratic, usually taking 1 - 6 months at 10°c[18][7]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cuttings of softwood terminal shoots in spring[7].

Root cuttings in winter[7].

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Atropa bella-donna. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.



Cultivation

Succeeds in any well-drained moisture retentive soil[7] in sun or partial shade[10]. Prefers a calcareous soil[19][1][11][20]. When grown as a medicinal plant, the highest levels of the medically active alkaloids are obtained from plants growing on a light, permeable chalky soil, especially when on a south-west facing slope[1]. The highest concentrations are also formed when the plant is growing in a sunny position and in hot summers[10]. The northerly limits of cultivation are about 50 - 55° north and at an altitude between 100 - 200 metres[1].

This species is widely cultivated, especially in eastern Europe, for the medically active compounds it contains. These are used in the drugs industry to produce a range of medicines[10]. Plants tend to be short-lived[7].

Slugs are very fond of this plant and have been known to completely remove the outer bark from the stems[K].

Crops

Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Atropa bella-donna. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Atropa bella-donna.

Descendants

Cultivars

Varieties

None listed.

Subspecies

None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Taxonomy
Binomial name
Atropa bella-donna
Genus
Atropa
Family
Solanaceae
Imported References
Material uses & Functions
Botanic
Propagation
Cultivation
Environment
Cultivation
Uses
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Functions
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Environment
Hardiness Zone
7
Heat Zone
?
Water
moderate
Sun
full sun
Shade
permanent shade
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Ecosystems
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Life
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    ?
    Herbaceous or Woody
    ?
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    ?
    Mature Size
    Fertility
    ?
    Pollinators
    Flower Colour
    ?
    Flower Type











    References

    1. ? 1.001.011.021.031.041.051.061.071.081.091.10 Grieve. A Modern Herbal. Penguin ISBN 0-14-046-440-9 (1984-00-00)
    2. ? 2.02.12.22.32.42.5 Chiej. R. Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants. MacDonald ISBN 0-356-10541-5 (1984-00-00)
    3. ? Altmann. H. Poisonous Plants and Animals. Chatto and Windus ISBN 0-7011-2526-8 (1980-00-00)
    4. ? Stary. F. Poisonous Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-35666-3 (1983-00-00)
    5. ? Frohne. D. and Pf?nder. J. A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants. Wolfe ISBN 0723408394 (1984-00-00)
    6. ? 6.06.16.2 Mills. S. Y. The Dictionary of Modern Herbalism. ()
    7. ? 7.07.17.27.37.47.57.6 Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.18.2 Anderson. A. New Scientist IPC Magazines Ltd, London ISBN 0262-4079 (1997-00-00)
    9. ? 9.09.19.29.39.4 Chevallier. A. The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants Dorling Kindersley. London ISBN 9-780751-303148 (1996-00-00)
    10. ? 10.010.110.210.310.410.5 Bown. D. Encyclopaedia of Herbs and their Uses. Dorling Kindersley, London. ISBN 0-7513-020-31 (1995-00-00)
    11. ? 11.011.111.2 Launert. E. Edible and Medicinal Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-37216-2 (1981-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Lust. J. The Herb Book. Bantam books ISBN 0-553-23827-2 (1983-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    14. ? 14.014.1 Hill. A. F. Economic Botany. The Maple Press (1952-00-00)
    15. ? 15.015.1 Emboden. W. Narcotic Plants Studio Vista ISBN 0-289-70864-8 (1979-00-00)
    16. ? 16.016.116.216.3 Chopra. R. N., Nayar. S. L. and Chopra. I. C. Glossary of Indian Medicinal Plants (Including the Supplement). Council of Scientific and Industrial Research, New Delhi. (1986-00-00)
    17. ? 17.017.117.217.317.4 Castro. M. The Complete Homeopathy Handbook. Macmillan. London. ISBN 0-333-55581-3 (1990-00-00)
    18. ? Rice. G. (Editor) Growing from Seed. Volume 2. Thompson and Morgan. (1988-00-00)
    19. ? F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    20. ? Triska. Dr. Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants. Hamlyn ISBN 0-600-33545-3 (1975-00-00)
    21. ? Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named PFAFimport-17


    Facts about "Atropa bella-donna"RDF feed
    Article is incompleteYes +
    Article requires citationsNo +
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    Belongs to familySolanaceae +
    Belongs to genusAtropa +
    Functions asSoil builder +
    Has binomial nameAtropa bella-donna +
    Has common nameDeadly Nightshade +
    Has drought toleranceIntolerant +
    Has fertility typeInsects +
    Has flowers of typeHermaphrodite +
    Has hardiness zone7 +
    Has lifecycle typePerennial +
    Has mature height0.9 +
    Has mature width0.75 +
    Has medicinal partUnknown part +
    Has medicinal useAnalgesic +, Antidote +, Antispasmodic +, Diuretic +, Hallucinogenic +, Homeopathy +, Mydriatic +, Narcotic + and Sedative +
    Has search nameatropa bella-donna + and deadly nightshade +
    Has shade tolerancePermanent shade +
    Has soil ph preferenceAcid +, Neutral +, Alkaline + and Very alkaline +
    Has soil texture preferenceSandy + and Loamy +
    Has soil water retention preferenceWell drained +
    Has sun preferenceFull sun +
    Has taxonomic rankSpecies +
    Has taxonomy nameAtropa bella-donna +
    Has water requirementsmoderate +
    Is taxonomy typeSpecies +
    PFAF cultivation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF edible use notes migratedYes +
    PFAF material use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF medicinal use notes migratedNo +
    PFAF propagation notes migratedNo +
    PFAF toxicity notes migratedNo +
    Tolerates nutritionally poor soilNo +
    Uses mature size measurement unitMeters +
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