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  • Belladonna atropa L.
  • Atropa belladonna L.
  • A. belladonna acuminata
  • Solanaceae
  • Nightshade family

Common Names

herbsDeadly nightshade

Parts Usually Used

Leaves and flowers

Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Atropa belladonna is a poisonous plant with reddish flowers and shining black berries. Source of various alkaloids, including atropine and scopolamine. Belladonna (beautiful lady) is an anticholinergic. This attractive plant with its thick stems or branches and leaves is somewhat similar to the tobacco plant. However, its axillary flowers, dull brown to dark purple in color, indicate that it is neither tobacco plant or ground-cherry (Chinese lantern). The ripe, shiny black berries often entice children to pick and eat them, with fatal results. Plants can have good and bad characteristics, and this is the case with belladonna. It can kill people, but it is also a life saver.

The Garden Nightshade (Solanum nigrum L.), often thought of as the Deadly Nightshade, but should not be confused with Belladonna. The Solanum nigrum is the rarer of the many nightshade species.

Medicinal Properties

Antispasmodic, diuretic, narcotic, sedative

Biochemical Information

Various alkaloids, especially hyoscyamine and scopalamine


Sedative, anticholinergic (an agent that blocks parasympathetic nerve impulses) and spasmolytic effects on the gastrointestinal tract. Treats nervous congestion, suppresses the action of smooth muscles, and is helpful for kidney pains, and colitis. It is used in ophthalmology to dilate the pupils of the eyes (Atropine).

The leaves applied externally are used as a treatment and possible cure for cancer by both Western herbalists and in Chinese folk medicine.

How Sold

Belladonna in powder form from leaf and flowering top of Atropa belladonna Linne or A. belladonna acuminata. It is used generally in tincture form, though the dry extract in tablet form may be used.


If eaten, vomiting should be induced immediately.

This herb is potentially fatal. Could cause death or other serious consequences. Its use is not recommended without professional medical guidance.

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