1. Belladonnae Folia. Belladonna Leaves.
2. Belladonnae Radix. Belladonna Root.
1. The dried leaves and tops, with not more than 10 p. c. of stems, foreign matter, containing .3 p. c. of alkaloids. 2. The dried root, with not more than 10 p. c. of stem-bases, foreign matter, containing .45 p. c. of alkaloids.
Syn. Deadly or Sleeping Nightshade, Death's Herb, Banewort, Mekilwort, (Poison) Black Cherry, Doft- (Dway-) berry, Dwale; Bellad. Fol., Deadly Nightshade Leaves; Bellad. Rad., Deadly Nightshade Root; Fr. Belladone, Morelle furieuse, Feuilles de Belladone, Racine de Belladone; Ger. Toll-, Wolf-Kirsche, Tollkraut, Belladonna, Tollkirschenblatter, Tollkirschenwurzel.
At'ro-pa. L. fr. Gr.
= d, priv., +
to turn - not to turn, to be inflexible. One of the mythological fates, whose office it was to cut the thread of life - i. e., with this poisonous fruit or plant the functions of office could easily be performed.
Bel-la-don'na. L. bella, beautiful, + donna, a lady - i. e., the berries were used by the Italian ladies as a cosmetic, and to dilate their eye pupils, thus giving them a strikingly handsome appearance.
Fig. 352. - Atropa Belladonna: branch, fruit, seed, and section of seed, the last two magnified.
Plant. - Bushy perennial, 1-1.5 M. (3-5°) high; stems 12-25 Mm. (1/2-l') thick, purplish, longitudinally wrinkled, older parts smooth, usually hollow, younger parts flattened, finely hairy; flowers 2.5 Cm. (1') long, yellowish-purple, campanulate, 5's; fruit dark green berry, size of cherry, subtended by dark green calyx; seeds small, numerous. Leaves, broadly ovate, 6-20 Cm. (2.5-8') long, 4-12 Cm. (1 3/5-5') broad, acute, entire, narrowed into long petiole, brownish-green, under surface grayish-green, papillose, slightly hairy; usually much twisted, matted, crumpled, but pliable and extensible upon soaking in water; odor distinct, especially on moistening; taste bitter, acrid. Powder, dark green; microscopically - irregular fragments of leaf tissues, woody elements, calcium oxalate micro-crystals (sandy), few glandular and non-glandular hairs, tracheae, starch grains, pollen grains, long bast-fibres (stem) - no raphides (abs. of Phytolacca decandra, leaves, stems). Dose, gr. 1/2-3 (.03-.2 Gm.). Root, in cylindrical, tapering pieces, 10-30 Cm. (4-120 long, .5-2.5 Cm. (1/5-1') thick, usually split longitudinally, pale brownish-gray, longitudinally wrinkled, outer layers of
Fig. 353. - Belladonna leaf cross-section: o.ep, upper epidermis with a glandular hair having long stem with little head (h), and a very short-stemmed glandular hair with large many-celled head (d.h); pal, palisade tissue; krs, sand-crystal cell; schw, spongy parenchyma; u.ep, lower epidermis with stomata (sp), and a single multicellular hair (h), magnified 175 diam.
periderm rather soft, frequently abraded showing lighter patches; fracture nearly smooth, mealy, emitting characteristic puff of dust (starch grains); internally whitish, with distinct cambium zone, yellowish wood wedges; nearly inodorous; taste sweetish, bitterish, acrid. Powder, light brown; microscopically - numerous starch grains, .003-030 Mm. (1/8325-1/825') broad, calcium oxalate micro-crystals, fragments of cork cells, tracheae, wood-fibres, occasional long bast-fibres (stem). Should be kept in tightly-closed containers, adding occasionally a few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride to prevent insect attack. Dose, gr. 1/2-2 (.03-. 13 Gm.).
Adulterations. - Leaves: Digitalis, hyoscyamus, stramonium, ailanthus - long tapering base; verbascum - hairy, more or less lobed, differently colored and veined; black nightshade (Solarium ni'grum) - leaves smaller, dentate; scopola (Scopola carniolica) - leaves oblong-ovate, without stomata on upper surface, often 15-20 p. c; poke (Phytolacca decandra) - leaves detected by the more angular epidermal cells and calcium oxalate needles; Root: Rare - roots of allied species, rhizome of scopola - darker, tough, flexible, numerous stem-scars, transverse root-scars, thin bark, without short snapping fracture and puff of dust; medicago (Medica'go sati'va) - solid crown-branches, thinner bark; althaea - fracture tough; poke-root. Roots of inula, spikenard, and parsley have similar appearance.
Commercial. - Plant prefers limestone soil and grows in stony, shady, bushy places, along walls, amid rubbish. Of the wild and cultivated all parts practically are active alike, but the English is considered superior to the German. Leaves and roots should be collected when strongest - from plants 2-4 years old, the former in flowering, June-July, the latter in autumn or early spring; if younger the root fracture is horny, resinous, if older, woody, splintery, both indicating deficiency in alkaloids, which reside chiefly in the bark; large pieces often are split to avoid damage in drying, while hyoscya-mine, under various conditions in making the preparations, is converted into atropine. Constituents. - Atropine, .2-.6 p. c, Belladonnine, Hyoscyamine, scopolamine (hyoscine), atropamine, atrosin, malic acid, starch (autumn), sugar (spring); leaves have, in addition: chlorophyll, choline (bilineurine), albumin, mucilage, wax, asparagin, chrysatropic acid (scopoletin), succinic acid, nitrates, ash 7 (root)-20 (leaves) p. c. (Ca, Mg, K, carbonates).