Deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is a plant with a dark past. It was used by ancient people to poison enemy troops. Others used its hallucinogenic properties to torture people. Women used the sap to dilate their pupils for cosmetic reasons despite the fact that it harmed them.
Deadly nightshade is part of the Solanaceae family and grows natively throughout North Africa, Western Asia, Europe, and Britain. Deadly nightshade, also known as belladonna, is a soft-stemmed perennial plant that grows up to seven feet tall.
Belladonna has seven-inch long oval leaves. They have smooth margins and a leaf stalk or petiole. They produce purple flowers that give rise to green berries, which are toxic. The berries change color and become shiny purple-black. They have green or greenish-brown basal leaves or sepals.
- Morning glory
- Bellflower (campanula)
- Blue potato bush
- Twinberry honeysuckle
- Woody nightshade
- Black nightshade
- Anemone coronaria
- Common comfrey
1. Morning Glory
Morning glory (Ipomea purpurea) is a plant that grows as a creeper. It entwines itself around other plants, walls, and other structures. It can have stems that are nine or ten feet in length.
Morning glory has heart-shaped leaves, and the stems are covered in small brown hairs. Like deadly nightshade, morning glory produces purple flowers. Deadly nightshade has bell-shaped flowers, and morning glory flowers are shaped like trumpets.
Morning glory may also have white flowers, and the intensity of the purple hue may vary. Purple morning glory flowers usually have white throats.
Morning glory can be an invasive plant and is considered an alien invader in many countries. Care must be taken to ascertain if it may be planted in your area. It grows in most soils but does best in rich, moist soil.
Bellflowers (Campanula spp.) are found throughout the northern hemisphere and in tropical regions of Africa and Asia. They vary in size according to the species and may be less than half an inch tall or up to six feet tall.
The leaves are larger at the stem’s base and smaller higher up the stem. They vary in shape, but most are oval or heart-shaped. Some have three pointed ivy-shaped leaves.
They produce purple, lavender, or dark blue flowers that are cup-shaped and sometimes likened to an open bell. Some varieties produce white or pink flowers, but these are less common.
Bellflower blossoms occur in abundance, and the plant is covered in a blue robe of flowers. Deadly nightshade flowers are not as prolific, with individual flowers clearly seen on the plant.
Bellflowers may be annuals, biennials, or perennials like deadly nightshade. They survive cold winters and are best planted in full sun.
Due to the similarity with nightshades, the blue potato bush (lycianthes rantonnetii) was initially classified as part of the Solanaceae plant family. It has recently been reclassified as part of the pepper family.
Related: 10 Plants That Look Like Bells
3. Blue Potato Bush
The blue potato bush is a woody shrub that grows four to six feet tall. It is evergreen in warm climates and deciduous in climates with icy winters. They have oval leaves with a distinct point and can be bright green, darker green, or variegated.
The blue potato bush produces purple, lilac, or lavender flowers with a yellow center. Th flowers have often resulted in the plant being confused with deadly nightshade. The flowers are rounded and more open than the bell-shaped flowers of deadly nightshade.
Some potato bush varieties have white or brilliant yellow flowers. This attractive plant is a safe alternative to deadly nightshade. It is a favorite with gardeners as it flowers profusely, growing in poor soils and in full sun.
4. Twinberry Honeysuckle
Twinberry honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrate) has many common names – bearberry honeysuckle, Californian honeysuckle, black twinberry, and bracted honeysuckle. It is found in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.
Twinberry honeysuckle is a large shrub that grows from one foot to sixteen feet tall. It has oval leaves that have hairy margins. Twinberry honeysuckle has yellow flowers that usually occur in pairs. The flowers are a similar shape to deadly nightshade flowers.
Twinberry honeysuckle produces black berries like deadly nightshade. True to its name, Twinberry produces berries in pairs, whereas deadly nightshade produces single berries. Twinberry honeysuckle has smaller berries than deadly nightshade and has red leaves or sepals at their base.
Twinberry honeysuckle grows well in most soil types. This makes it a good alternative plant for deadly nightshade.
5. Woody Nightshade
Woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) is also commonly known as bittersweet nightshade, blue bindweed, and climbing nightshade. It is a very similar plant to deadly nightshade. It is a perennial vine or shrub that grows along wetlands, river banks, and disturbed soil on the edges of fields and roads.
The green leaves are oval with clear midribs and leaf veins. As the summer deepens, the leaves may become tinged with purple. Woody nightshade produces purple star-shaped flowers with prominent yellow reproductive structures.
The flowers wilt, and berries develop. The berries are first green, ripening to orange, and ultimately bright red. This is different from deadly nightshade, which has black berries. Woody nightshade has egg-shaped berries, and deadly nightshade has round berries.
Woody nightshade is also a toxic plant like deadly nightshade. It has a bad smell, and most animals avoid consuming it.
6. Black Nightshade
Black nightshade (solanum nigrum) is closely related to deadly nightshade. It is a widely spread plant and grows natively in America, Australia, South Africa, Europe, and Asia.
There are two varieties. One is not toxic like deadly nightshade, and the berries and cooked leaves can be eaten. The other is toxic and causes gastrointestinal symptoms.
Black nightshade is a perennial herb that grows from twelve to forty-seven inches tall. The leaves are oval or heart-shaped and up to three inches long. The leaf margins have loose serrations, and the leaf is attached by a petiole one inch long.
Black nightshade has white star-like flowers with five petals. The flowers have a yellow center. They give rise to black fruit or berries that contain many seeds and a softish interior similar to tomatoes.
Black nightshade berries grow in clusters compared to deadly nightshade berries, which grow singly.
7. Anemone Coronaria
Anemone coronaria, like deadly nightshade, is a herbaceous perennial. It grows in Europe and North and South America. It is a small plant, reaching only twelve inches in height.
Anemones have thick leaves with a velvety appearance. The leaves usually grow in clusters of three. Each leaf cluster gives rise to a long thin flower stalk with one purple six-petalled flower. The flowers are only about one inch in diameter. They may also be blue, pink, or white. They bloom from late spring to summer.
Anemones do not form berries, and they have tuberous roots that distinguish them from deadly nightshade.
8. Common comfrey
Common comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is grouped in the Boraginaceae family. It has some interesting common names – common comfrey, boneset, knitbone, and slippery root. It originally grew in Britain but has been cultivated for hundreds of years in many other countries.
Comfrey grows in clumps to heights varying from one foot to three feet. The green leaves are broad, oval, hairy, and generally bigger than deadly nightshade leaves.
Comfrey produces clusters of purple blooms similar to deadly nightshade. Comfrey flowers and deadly nightshade both have bell-shaped flowers. Some comfrey flowers are cream or pink.
Comfrey plants grow best in damp soil beside rivers, streams, and ditches. This makes it an excellent plant for clay soils. It grows in full sun but, in hot climates, will need protection from the sun.