|Illustration from Köhler's Medicinal Plants 1887|
Atropa belladonna, commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a poisonous perennial herbaceous plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, which also includes tomatoes, potatoes, and eggplant (aubergine). It is native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. Its distribution extends from Great Britain in the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province of Gilan in the east. It is also naturalised or introduced in some parts of Canada and the United States.
The foliage and berries are extremely toxic when ingested, containing tropane alkaloids. These toxins include atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine, which cause delirium and hallucinations, and are also used as pharmaceutical anticholinergics. These tropane alkaloids appear to be common in the family Solanaceae, as they are also present in plants of the genera Brugmansia, Datura and Hyoscyamus, of the same family but in different subfamilies and tribes than the nightshade.
Borrowed from Italian belladonna (altered by folk etymology: bella donna (“beautiful lady”)) from Medieval Latin blādōna (“nightshade”), of Gaulish origin. The folk etymology was motivated by the cosmetic use of nightshade for dilating the eyes.
- (General American) IPA(key): /ˌbɛləˈdɑnə/
- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /ˌbɛləˈdɒnə/
- Rhymes: -ɒnə
belladonna (countable and uncountable, plural belladonnas...