Deadly nightshade is native to Europe, North Africa and Western Asia and grows up to 1.9 m tall. As the common name suggests, it has extremely toxic berries and foliage. Adopt the seed of the beguiling deadly nightshade as a truly memorable Halloween gift.
Its bell-shaped flowers are purple with a green tinge, up to 2 cm long and will normally flower between June and September. The berries are 1 cm in diameter and ripen to shiny black. They are full of a sweet, dark, ink-like juice and often consumed by animals as a way of seed dispersal.
The toxicity of the berries makes them a real danger to humans if consumed, with 2 to 5 berries potentially deadly. Because of their appearance and sweet taste children are particularly at risk.
Delirium and hallucinations are all consequences of the poisons in Atropa belladonna but it also has positive uses. Deadly nightshade is used in many herbal medicines as a pain reliever, muscle relaxer and anti-inflammatory as well as to help solve motion sickness.
Belladonna drops block receptors in the muscles of the eye that constrict pupil size and so it was used by eye surgeons to allow for more effective treatment. With its rich associations, adoption of the seed of the deadly nightshade makes an intoxicating Halloween gift.