Atropa belladonna (belladonna, devil's cherries, divale, dwayberry, great morel).
A genus of the plant family SOLANACEAE. Herbaceous plant with perennial thick, white,
fleshy root and purple coloured stem. Leaves are a dull dark green, oval in shape.
Flowers are dark purple tinged with green, bell-shaped and pendant. The fruit is
a shiny, smooth black berry, set in a characteristic, five-cleft calyx. The berries
are very sweet and juicy, each containing several seeds.
Animals most affected
Cattle, sheep, goats and dogs. Cats are extremely
sensitive to the plant; goats are resistant to the toxic principles.
Poisoning is rare, but occurs following direct
ingestion of the berries or of contaminated fodder. Dogs are the target of deliberate
Contains two alkaloids: atropine and L-hyoscyamine which are found in all parts of
the plant, but are most concentrated in the berries.
Toxicity varies according to the vegetative state of the plant, and is maximal during
the fruiting stage. Drying the plant does not reduce its toxicity.
Note: the alkaloids can pass into the milk of lactating animals.
Toxic doses are not well known:
150 g fresh leaves
120 g dried roots
dryness and scaling of the skin (pruritus),
of the buccal mucosae (causing an intense thirst) and of the gastric mucosae
(an astringent effect causing constipation);
If a very large quantity has been ingested
(acute or subacute poisoning):
nausea, delirium, dizziness;
tachycardia, followed by bradycardia;
death in 5-6 hours.
No antidote. Symptomatic care only.
In the dog:
tranquillizers or sedatives if indicated;
atropine antagonists (eserine, pilocarpine) to be used cautiously and at very