Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)


A striking, deeply attractive annual/biennial of legendary reputation. Has broad, coarse leaves and attractive creamy-yellow flowers heavily veined in purple/black, with dark, purple/black centres. The plant contains tropane alkaloids, most concentrated in the seeds, which have a sedative effect in low doses, but will cause euphoria, mania, hallucination, convulsion and death in higher doses. Used as a tool of murder and assassination down through time, most famously in Shakespeares' Hamlet - "juice of cursed he bona". However, modern cases of poisoning are rare and is now used in ophthalmology, the prevention of motion sickness, and pain relief, when applied externally. A beautiful and stunning plant when in full flower.