Solanaceae: A branched, often downy perennial to 1m. Liking rich calcareous soils. The flowers are normally around 3cm long, yellow, bell-shaped, pendent, on stalks that arise from the leaf axils, flowering from June-August. The flowers are followed by shiny globular, yellow-green, blotchy berries about 2cm. and as the name suggests these berries are deadly, only 3 or 4 are said to be deadly to child. This relatively rare variety was said to be more potent than the common belladonna, and was preferred by witches.
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.
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. The plant can be used to treat the symptoms of Parkinson's disease, reducing tremors and rigidity whilst improving speech and mobility. It has also been used as an antidote in cases of mushroom or toadstool poisoning. This is a very poisonous plant, should be used with extreme caution and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. All parts of the plant are analgesic, antidote, antispasmodic, diuretic, hallucinogenic, mydriatic, narcotic and sedative.
All seeds from this species will need a cold treatment or a soak in GA3 [Gibberellic acid] before they will successfully germinate, germination is about 4 weeks.
Seeds can either be mixed with a little damp sand in a sealed bag and placed in the fridge for 4-6 weeks or you could try soaking the seeds in a solution of GA3 [Gibberellic acid], which can be found on eBay and other online retailers, this works really well with many plants of the Solanaceae family.