Botanical name: Atropa bella-donna Family: Solanaceae (Potato family)
Synonyms: Atropa belladonna
Belladonna is a perennial branching herb growing to 5 feet tall. The leaves are dull, darkish green in colour and of unequal size, 3-10 inches long, the lower leaves solitary, the upper ones in pairs alternately from opposite sides of the stem, one leaf of each pair much larger than the other, oval in shape, acute at the apex, entire and attenuated into short petioles. First-year plants grow only about 1 1/2 feet in height. Their leaves are often larger than in full-grown plants and grow on the stem immediately above the ground. Older plants attain a height of 3-5 ft, occasionally even 6 ft. The flowers, borne in leaf axils, are of a dark and dingy purplish colour, tinged with green, about 2.5 cm long, pendent, bell-shaped, furrowed. The flowers have five large teeth or lobes, slightly reflexed. The fruit is 0.5 inch smooth berry, which ripens to acquire a shining black or purple color. Every part of the plant is extremely poisonous, and can result in poisoning of not handled carefully.
Medicinal uses: The plant is believed to be narcotic, diuretic, sedative, antispasmodic, mydriatic. Belladonna is a most valuable plant in the treatment of eye diseases, Atropine, obtained during extraction, being its most important constituent on account of its power of dilating the pupil.
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