Deadly Nightshade, Belladonna, Devil's Cherry
Atropa belladonna

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Atropa (AT-row-puh) (Info)
Species: belladonna (bel-uh-DON-nuh) (Info)

Category:

Perennials

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Unknown - Tell us

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)

Spacing:

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Sun to Partial Shade

Danger:

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Maroon (Purple-Brown)

Brown/Bronze

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

7.9 to 8.5 (alkaline)

8.6 to 9.0 (strongly alkaline)

over 9.1 (very alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Los Gatos, California

Menifee, California

Wilmington, Delaware

Blackfoot, Idaho

Romeoville, Illinois

Cumberland, Maryland

Farmington, New Hampshire

Plainfield, New Jersey

Deposit, New York

Elmira, New York

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Newport, Rhode Island

San Antonio, Texas

Salt Lake City, Utah

Leesburg, Virginia

Anacortes, Washington

Puyallup, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Stanwood, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

5
positives
4
neutrals
1
negative
RatingContent
Positive

On Jun 10, 2015, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

Slow, erratic germinator, even after 120 day cold stratification. Seeds planted at the same time can be expected to germinate sporadically over several months. Seems to germinate best in a cool environment. Seedlings are susceptible to damping off, but will succeed in a peat based germinating mix with ample light and moisture.

Conventional wisdom tells us that A. belladonna is unsuitable for warm climates. It succeeds if given dappled shade and sufficient soil moisture, so long as the nights remain relatively cool. When humidity rises and night temperatures do not fall below 70F (20C), that's when things tend to go awry.

In my brief experience with this plant, the best chance of success in a warmer climate means sowing seeding trays indoors during the fall or ... read more

Neutral

On Sep 5, 2008, spiny1000 from Lillestrm
Norway (Zone 5a) wrote:

Although this peculiar plants belong to my favorite plants, I will not recommend it being grown unless you are taking necessary and proper action dealing with this highly poisonous plant.

Opposed to several other poisonous plants, the deadly berries are said to have a rather pleasant taste, thus not scaring away persons eating the berries.

As I now have children, I grow this and other medicinal and poisonous plants in a secure and fenced part of the garden. And of course I teach my children what not to eat-children are able of learning this from quite an early age, but I would of course never take any chances.

Positive

On Sep 12, 2007, paracelsus from Elmira, NY (Zone 6a) wrote:

Belladonna is not a noxious weed. In fact, I have never seen this plant growing outside of a garden, and I have looked, as it is one of my favorite plants. It WILL get quite large the second year, and its root can then be substantial and hard to pull up (wear gloves when doing that). Although I haven't seen any scientific proof, I suspected this plant caused a nearby rugosa rose to sicken and die. Other plants seem unaffected by its proximity.

The berries are indeed very beautiful--large and shiny. I have heard that they are somewhat sweet, but I believe they are dangerous to ingest, especially for children. A belladonna plant provides an excellent opportunity for adults to teach children never to eat any plant part unless they know for a fact that it is safe to eat, regardl... read more

Positive

On May 19, 2006, Silphion from Portland, OR (Zone 8b) wrote:

A herbacious perrenial, much scorned by the same people who don't realize how moderatly poisonous this plant is in comparison to Castor beans, Aconites and Foxgloves ect...the name Deadly Nightshade certanly isen't good for P.R. According to info on the Horizonherb wedsite the berries are edible while it is actually the seeds that are dangerous; I havn't personally put this to the test. That being said I do keep mine (along with my aconties and foxgloves) in a seperate fenced off part of my yard and handle them with respect.

I allow mine to drop their fruit and have had no problems with them being invasive. I would like to see a pic of Buldog's Belladonna as the description sounds more like Solanum dulcamara than Atropa b.

My belladonnas were reared from ... read more

Positive

On May 18, 2006, NiGHTS from Los Gatos, CA wrote:

Belladonna is a great plant, as long as you don't have anyone around who might be tempted to eat the berries and/or leaves, as doing so will result in a trip to the local hospital and/or mortician ;). It can be planted from seed, but the seeds should be cold water stratified for at least two weeks. Seeds can be removed when the berries shrivel up in the fall, or you can simply cut the berry into quarters and plant the following spring. Be sure to wear gloves if handling belladonna and a knife at the same time, or you might end up in the waiting room of the hospital with the berry nibbler.

Belladonna can be grown indoors, but needs frequent water in spring and summer. Watch out for spider mites if kept indoors. I have had my plants for three years, and each spring, the s... read more

Neutral

On Aug 30, 2004, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

Italian ladies used the juice to dilate their eyes to increase their beauty. According to mythology, Atropos, one of the three goddesses of fate, used the berries to cut the thread of life. During the middle ages, people believed it was the favorite plant of the devil. This is not surprising, considering the many wild stories told of this plant. It is a poisonous plant - A peculiar symptom in those poisoned by Belladonna is the complete loss of voice, together with frequent bending forward of the trunk and continual movements of the hands and fingers, the pupils of the eye becoming much dilated.

As every part of the plant is extremely poisonous, neither leaves, berries, nor root should be handled if there are any cuts or abrasions on the hands.

The root is t... read more

Neutral

On Jul 19, 2004, celesgardens from Oakhurst, NJ wrote:

I wanted to know if anybody had any experience with growing atropa belladonna from seed. I'm doing so right now, and wanted to know if anyone had any tips. I have about 30 small seedlings growing in a starter container. Took about 6-7 weeks to germinate. If anyone has any information or tips on growing atropa belladonna, please respond.
-thank you

Positive

On Jun 3, 2004, ScottSLC from Salt Lake City, UT wrote:

This plant does very well for me, and makes for a nice ornamental in my garden. Since I have no children, I don't really need to worry about the black "cherries" being accidentally eaten. The plants I have tend to be more bush than vine, with large thick stems that branch at the top to make an interesting canopy. The flowers are a dull mauve color and almost look like they are absorbing all the sunlight they can, reflecting back very little light. *I was told by a botanist that the name, Belladonna, which is latin for Beautiful Woman, was given to this plant because women in Italy used to make a tincture from the berries and use the drops in their eyes to dilate their pupils, thereby making them look more beautiful. I also understand that ophthalmologists used to use an extract of thi... read more

Negative

On Oct 20, 2003, buldog from Farmington, NH wrote:

Yes, the berries are very attractive as is the plant, but watch out - this is a highly invasive plant much like bittersweet and difficult to get under control!

Neutral

On Oct 20, 2003, wnstarr from Puyallup, WA (Zone 5a) wrote:

Besides being a noxious weed, this is a pretty vining plant. It is really poisonious and should not be grown around small children. It has a vinning habit, climbing up fences and plants to get to the sun. Grows vigorously from any roots left in the ground, had to pull them all out.