I love the look of Deadly Nightshade aka BellaDonna…Beautiful Lady….I can never figure out how it is meant to be the same family as the comfort-spud, the potato!
“…It is of a cold nature; in some it causeth sleep; in others madness, and, shortly after, death,” wrote Culpepper.
A la Wikipedia...
“…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 it was used as a poison by early men, ancient Romans, including the wives of two Emperors, and by Macbeth of Scotland before he became a Scottish King.
The genus name “atropa” comes from Atropos, one of the three Fates in Greek mythology, and the name “atropa bella donna” is derived from an admonition in Italian and Greek meaning “do not betray a beautiful lady…”
I tried to get some when i was 13, because some bodice-ripper i was reading had the heroine dropping BellaDonna drops in her eyes to make them sparkle & the pupils dilate, apparently madly arousing to men. And – she claimed in this book – to make her see more magically. Deadly Nightshade is also called Devil’s Cherries and Dwayberry…The latter deriving from the French word for grief.
“…The apples of Sodom are held to be related to this plant, and the name Belladonna is said to record an old superstition that at certain times it takes the form of an enchantress of exceeding loveliness, whom it is dangerous to look upon, though a more generally accepted view is that the name was bestowed on it because its juice was used by the Italian ladies to give their eyes greater brilliancy, the smallest quantity having the effect of dilating the pupils of the eye.
Another derivation is founded on the old tradition that the priests used to drink an infusion before they worshipped and invoked the aid of Bellona, the Goddess of War…”
Mandrake is another version of it & was said to be the plant from which the enchantress Circe made her wine.