In Italian, its name means beautiful woman. The belladonna plant first received this name because it was used to make eye-drops for women in ancient Rome. Belladonna made the women appear more seductive by dilating the pupils of their eyes.
Today, the plant is often called the deadly nightshade, and it certainly lives up to that name. The deadly nightshade is one of the most poisonous plants known. It is particularly dangerous because its glistening black berries are tempting to children. But they can also be fatal to an adult who foolishly consumes as few as two of the berries. Ingesting even one leaf can kill an adult, but the roots are the deadliest part of all.
The deadly nightshade is one of a group of hallucinogenic plants that are known to produce a sensation of flight. According to the book Secrets of the Natural World, "Witches were thought to have used [the] plants in their potions, which may explain why witches are typically portrayed flying through the night sky."
Creation Moments believes that the deadly nightshade represents a collaboration of sorts between God and Adam. God originally created the plant with berries that could be eaten without harm. After all, God called His creation "very good." But after Adam took that fateful bite of the forbidden fruit, God cursed the ground. This is when we believe that the chemistry of the harmless belladonna was changed into a plant that can kill with one bite.
Notes: Secrets of the Natural World (Reader's Digest/Dorling Kindersley, 1993), p. 122. Photo: Courtesy of Karelj. (CC-BY-SA 3.0). Creation Moments, Inc., P.O. Box 839, Foley, MN 56329 www.creationmoments.com