BellaDonna – Do Not Betray A Beautiful Lady

Bella Donna Georgia O'Keefe

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 a 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.


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i once saw a guy drink datura tea – he spent hours eating imaginary ice cream but then went blind for two days and had to be blindfolded to stop him staring at the sun. daturas (sometimes called angel’s trumpets) flower on the full moon and smell divine – and the scent is said to induce fantastic dreams. i have fantastic dreams all the time so cant say if that is true though i have slept with daturas nearby many times.

little fish

I’m not talking about the furled wild lily which is considered a menace in cow paddocks. Can’t believe people put them in Bridal bouquets now. Not good Fen Shui.

little fish

The November lily I am talking about has a beautiful smell. It is the shape of Asian lily but more opaque white, firmish petals that look like curled triangles. They are about a metre high with woody/firm stalks. light green.
The other lilies that grow on the roadside here are pinkish, more batiste-like and called easter lilies, wild, with an overpowering scent. shorter.
I grow the November lilies in my garden and lift them sometimes to give to friends. (a yellow corm-like bulb) They stay in vases for a month. Yellow stamens.

spaced out pisces

A beautiful plant. I found my first one in a spud patch a couple of years ago, since then I see them everywhere. Just as well as in my younger days I would have tried it. Did try Mandrake steeped in red wine once and it made me quite ill!

I dont think Belladonna has much of a scent, not that I recall, most I have seen have the apples forming so maybe they do in early bloom..

sweet sanity

Does Belladonna have a scent? It looks, and sounds, as if it would have one of those intoxicating, night time, pungent perfumes.

little fish

There is also the belladonna lily. It is sometimes called the November lily, with those five curled white petals on long, woody stalks, and long green leaves all up the stalk.

unpredictable pisces

and they smell delicious, and grow wild beside the road in (some of) sydney’s bushland suburbs, we call them christmas lilies too, also smell lovely 🙂

little fish

All the nightshade vegies are a no-no for anyone with even a slight touch of arthritis. Tomatoes are both nightshade but also too acidic. Only guys who want to keep their prostate healthy should have them for lycopene.

fluid feline

I dont have arthritis but 2 out of 3 meals at least contain the lovely juicy Love Apple that is the tomato. Mostly slightly cooked but sometimes raw. I don’t mind that much as i feel i’m too yin so the yang of tomato would balancing – non?


Potatoes, eggplants, tomatoes- all nightshades are considered as extremely yang in macrobiotic cooking & not really eaten cos the most balanced foods are yin/yang. Apples, or apple juice is a good balancer.


hmmm just thinking about toxins – as do quite often i must admit – and as i am new to this site i am not sure medusa if you have explored the topic of fugu fish – where the object of eating it is to have just enough to numb the lips but not enough to kill you – this also feeds into your recent observations on vampires through the somewhat related topic of zombies (the undead). it is thought that some “dead” appear so because the have actually ingested enough fish toxins to knock them out but do come… Read more »


the “belladonna” referred to in the nightshade names is the Greek Fate Atropa who cut the thread of life – a warning of the toxicity occurring to various degrees in all the “nightshade” or solanacae plants – including potatos, tomatos, chilis, capsicum, eggplant and tobacco and datura – plus strangely enough petunias – I wonder if that’s where the saying “pushing up the petunias” comes from to describe the dead. all plants are both medicine and poison – i love solanacae foods but can attest to the strange and strong effects of overdosing on their alkaloids – i once made… Read more »

unpredictable pisces

it’s why you have to toss (or plant / compost) potatoes when they turn green, apparently green potatoes can make you sick (never eaten the green bits so wouldn’t know) – this is because related to bella donna plant


I know that the Marchesa Louisa Casati used to put drops of belladonna in her eyes too! I wrote about her a while ago actually. Too fascinating.


YAY! I LOVE BELLADONA – it is such a beautiful plant – yet i have never used it as im a frightfully scared of its power. BUT saying that yes, in ancient times it was used as a narcotic for women to make their eyes darker – DARK EYES ARE SEEN VERY HIGHLY IN EUROPE! –
BellaDonna litereally translates to – beautiful lady



If you have ever seen potato plants growing you can see the conection. They have very similar flowers, and possibly the same tubers for roots. There is another one that grows in the bush, called kangaroo apple(think it is a native). It has small green tomato like friut that are also poisonous and the flowers look like they are from deadly nightshade family.

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