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Poisonous Plants in GB

12 13 blAck nightshAde Solanum nigrum Family Solanaceae. Synonyms Petty morel, garden nightshade. A short to medium white flowered annual of waste ground, compost heaps and hedge bottoms. Poisonous and possibly deadly under some circumstances, yet used as food in many parts of the world. Avoid eating. A remarkable illustration of this plant is found in the oldest surviving copy of Dioscorides De Materia Medica dating from 512 AD, housed in the National Library of Vienna. Theophrastus too was familiar with it, and both authors treated it as an edible plant. Dr. Woodville, in his Medical Botany 1794, remarked that there was much debate over its toxicity, some cases revealing severe narcotic action, with others failing to show effect. In one instance a mother, father and child ate it as a vegetable the mother and child were taken ill but the father was not. It was used to treat internal and external ulcers and cancers. Bruised leaves were applied for pain and inflammation, and their juice used to treat ringworm and gout. The Arab physicians applied the leaves to burns and ulcers. Mrs. Grieve tells us that peasants in Bohemia placed the herb in the cradle to promote sleep. The herb certainly has a documented sedative and narcotic action similar to bittersweet but stronger however this action does not appear to be present reliably at all times of the year and in all regions. In some parts of the world certain strains are eaten as a green vegetable the boiling water being first discarded. The fruits of certain varieties, including Garden Huckleberry are eaten when fully ripe in puddings, but eating the unripe fruits could certainly cause poisoning. Children are very susceptible to nightshades and should always be warned to stay clear of the berries, whether ripe or not. 137.3o 137.5o 137.6o
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