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flower Henbane

Identify It >   Wild Flower Section >   Henbane >

Scientific name:  Hyoscyamus niger

Size:  Grows to 75cm

Distribution:  Found mostly in southern England.  Rare in Scotland and N. Ireland

Flowering months:  June to August

Habitat:  Coastal areas, waste ground, especially on sandy soils

Special features:  Every part of the henbane plant is poisonous, and is similar to deadly nightshade.  The whole plant is rather hairy and has a sticky texture.

The flowers are easy to identifly.  They have creamy-yellow coloured petals with a rich purple centre and purple veins radiating out through the petals.  A local name for henbane is "Devils Eye" relating to the veiny appearance of the flowers.

This plant has been used medically for centuries especially for toothache and the extracts are still used today for sea sickness and mental illness.  The plant is packed with poisons including Hyoscyamine, scopolamine.  In 1910, the poison found in henbane was famously used by Dr. Crippen, an American homeopath living in London, to poison his wife.

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