Deadly Nightshade

©Don Macauley

Deadly nightshade

Scientific name: Atropa belladonna
As its name suggests, Deadly nightshade is a highly poisonous plant. Its black, shiny berries may be tempting but fatal. Found on chalky and disturbed ground, such as scrub or verges, it has bell-shaped flowers.

Species information

Statistics

Height: up to 1m

Conservation status

Common.

When to see

June to October

About

The poisonous nature of Deadly nightshade is famous: its shiny black berries are perhaps a temptation to children, but fatal in even small doses. Found mainly on chalky soils, particularly on recently disturbed ground, this bushy perennial has bell-shaped flowers that appear from June to August.

How to identify

Deadly nightshade has oval, pointed leaves that are pale green and strongly ribbed. Purple-brown flowers appear before the berries, which are green at first, turning to shiny black, and look a little like cherries.

Distribution

Mainly found in Central and Southern England.

Did you know?

Although the berries might be the most tempting part of Deadly nightshade, all parts of this plant are poisonous if ingested. It causes a range of symptoms including blurred vision, a rash, headaches, slurred speech, hallucinations, convulsions and eventually death.

How people can help

Although they might not look especially wildlife-friendly, our roadside verges, railway cuttings and waste grounds can provide valuable habitats for all kinds of plants and animals. The Wildlife Trusts are involved in many projects to make these places as beneficial for wildlife as possible. We have a vision of a Living Landscape: a network of habitats stretching across town and country that allow wildlife to move about freely and people to enjoy the benefits of nature. Support this greener vision for the future by joining your local Wildlife Trust.