Atropa belladonna var. lutea – Deadly Nightshade (seed)
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Atropa comes from the Greek word Atropos, one of the three fates who cuts the thread of life. It alludes to the poisonous nature of this plant. Belladonna (beautiful lady) refers to the practice of putting drops of nightshade in the eyes of women to dilate the pupils, which was once considered very attractive.
Nightshade contains tropane alkaloids, one being atropine which is extracted by the pharmaceutical industry for use in cold medications and in eye drops for ophthalmic diagnosis and surgery. Also used as a premedication before surgery.
A tall (1 – 1.5m) perennial herb with yellow bell shaped flowers that appear in summer/autumn, followed by shiny translucent yellow berries. Leaves are a light green colour giving the plant a very attractive appearance. Variety lutea is differentiated by the flower and fruit colour.
Care and Cultivation Seeds can be sown in spring/summer/autumn in a sandy/loam potting mix, 0.5cm under the surface. Likes a part shade position with good drainage but adequate moisture.
Seeds germinate sporadically between 2-4 weeks. Stratification for 2-4 weeks prior to sowing will enhance germination. Also, a 1 minute alcohol soak before sowing has been used to enhance germination.