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Belladonna (Deadly Nightshade) - Framed Print - 16"H x 12"W


Belladonna  (Deadly Nightshade) - Framed Print - 16"H x 12"W

Atropa belladonna, commonly known as belladonna or deadly nightshade, is a herbaceous plant in the Nightshade family Solanaceae. Its distribution extends from Great Britain in the west to western Ukraine and the Iranian province of Gilan in the east.

In Britain it is native only on calcareous soils, on disturbed ground, field margins, hedgerows and open woodland. More widespread as an alien, it is often a relic of cultivation as a medicinal herb.

It has a long history of use as a medicine, cosmetic, and poison. Before the Middle Ages, it was used as an anesthetic for surgery; and early humans made poison-tipped arrows from it

In Ancient Rome, it was used as a poison by Agrippina the Younger, wife of Emperor Claudius on advice of Locusta, a lady specialized in poisons, and Livia, who is rumored to have used it to kill her husband Emperor Augustus.

Macbeth of Scotland, when he was still one of the lieutenants of King Duncan I of Scotland, used it during a truce to poison the troops of the invading Harold Harefoot, King of England, to the point that the English troops were unable to stand their ground and had to retreat to their ships.

The name Atropa is derived from the Greek goddess Atropos, one of the three Greek fates who would determine the course of a man's life, and his death, was decided by Atropos. The name "belladonna" comes from the Italian language, meaning "beautiful lady";because the herb was used in eye-drops by women to dilate the pupils of the eyes to make them appear seductive.

The name Atropa belladonna was published by Linnaeus in Species Plantarum in 1753.

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