Atropa belladonna is a large, herbaceous perennial that grows to about 5-6 feet tall with an erect posture. It has a stem that ranges from purplish to green in color and is covered in short, fine hairs. Its roots are thick, white in color, fleshy, and about 6 inches in length or more. It has broad leaves, oval in shape, 3-10 inches long, which are formed in uneven pairs (one leaf much larger than the other). The often asymmetrical leaves have a smooth texture and are green in color. The branching of the leaves starts at about 10 inches from the ground. The flowers are bell-shaped and purple with conspicuous yellow anthers. They are about an inch long and grow in solitude, drooping from the axils of the leaves. These flowers usually bloom between June and September, after which, they produce dark, shiny black or purple berries containing sweet, dark, ink-like juices. These berries are 2-celled and are about ¾ inch in diameter. Toxic alkaloids are present throughout the plant (Cross 2012, Rita & Aminesh 2011, Butcher 1947). The toxins are most prevalent in the roots of the plant, followed by the leaves and flowers, and then the berries, which contain the least amount of toxic alkaloids (Rita & Aminesh 2011).
- Butcher, R. W. 1947. Atropa belladonna L. Journal of Ecology 34: 345-353.
- Cross, K. 2012. Atropa belladonna L., Solanaceae. Medicinal Plant Monographs 66-74.
- Rita, P. and D. K. Animesh. 2011. An updated overview on Atropa belladonna L. International Research Journal of Pharmacy.
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