Solanaceae: a branched, often downy perennial to 1.5m. grows in scrub and on disturbed ground on calcareous soils. the flowers are 25-30mm across, purplish, bell-shaped, pendent, on stalks that arise from the leaf axils, blooming from June-August. The fruit are poisonous black berries 15-20mm across. The leaves are broadly oval, pointed, and stalked. Native to central and southern Europe, including Britain, south and east to North Africa and Iran.
A star of the poison plants and its strong links with witches’ brews, most people will have heard of deadly nightshade plant even if they have never seen it, has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the middle Ages, it was used as an anaesthetic for surgery; the ancient Romans used it as a poison (the wife of Emperor Augustus and the wife of Claudius both were rumoured to have used it for murder); and, predating this, it was used to make poison-tipped arrows. The genus name Atropa comes from Atropos, one of the three Fates in Greek mythology.
The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which cause a bizarre delirium and hallucinations, and are also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics. The drug atropine is derived from the plant.
Atropa species are cold germinating, meaning the need a period of cold weather [winter], followed by a period of warm weather [spring], this process leeches the chemicals out of the seeds that inhibit the seeds from germinating at the wrong time of the year. that said seeds over one-year-old are noticeably easier to germinate than fresh seeds.
there are a few methods to trick the seeds in to germinating. Seeds can either be mixed with a little damp sand in a sealed bag and placed in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or so, and then sown at 20°C, these should germinate in amount 4-5 weeks, this method has worked for pretty well in the past.
the second option is the soak the seeds for 24hr in a solution of GA3 [Gibberellic Acid], this is a natural plant hormone, used for the stimulation of germination of difficult seeds. it’s easy to get a hold of on the net, and it is the bees knees when it comes to this species. soak for 24hr, then sow a 15-20°C for germination in 4-5 weeks, they come up like weeds using this stuff.
Succeeds in any well-drained moisture retentive soil in sun or partial shade. Preferring a calcareous soil. The highest concentrations of alkaloids are also formed when the plant is growing in a sunny position and in hot summers. Slugs are very fond of this plant.