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common name for the Solanaceae, a family of herbs, shrubs, and a few trees of warm regions, chiefly tropical America. Many are climbing or creeping types, and rank-smelling foliage is typical of many species. The odor is due to the presence of various alkaloids (including scopolaminescopolamine
or hyoscine
, alkaloid drug obtained from plants of the nightshade family (Solanaceae), chiefly from henbane, Hyoscyamus niger. Structurally similar to the nerve substance acetylcholine, scopolamine acts by interfering with the transmission of nerve
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, nicotinenicotine,
C10H14N2, poisonous, pale yellow, oily liquid alkaloid with a pungent odor and an acrid taste. It turns brown on exposure to air. Nicotine, a naturally occurring constituent of tobacco, is the active ingredient in tobacco smoke.
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, and atropineatropine
, alkaloid drug derived from belladonna and other plants of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family). Available either as the tincture or extract of belladonna, or as the pure substance atropine sulfate, it is a depressant of the parasympathetic nervous system.
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), chemicals that have been used medicinally since ancient times and as stimulants, narcotics, pain relievers, poisons, and antidotes for such agents as opium and snake venom.

The chief drug plants of the family are belladonnabelladonna
or deadly nightshade,
poisonous perennial plant, Atropa belladona, of the nightshade family. Native to Europe and now grown in the United States, the plant has reddish, bell-shaped flowers and shiny black berries.
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, or deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbanehenbane
or black henbane,
herb (Hyoscyamus niger) native to the Mediterranean region and naturalized in parts of North America. It belongs to the family Solanaceae (nightshade family) and contains a narcotic poison (similar to that of the related belladonna)
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 (Hyoscyamus niger), mandrakemandrake,
plant of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), the source of a narcotic much used during the Middle Ages as a pain-killer and perhaps the subject of more superstition than any other plant. The true mandrakes are of the genus Mandragora (especially M.
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 (Mandragora officinum), Jimson weedJimson weed
or Jamestown weed,
large, coarse annual plant (Datura stramonium) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), native to warm-temperate and tropical regions of the New World, but long widely distributed and often weedy.
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 (Datura stramonium and other daturas in the tropics), Brunfelsia species, and tobaccotobacco,
name for any plant of the genus Nicotiana of the Solanaceae family (nightshade family) and for the product manufactured from the leaf and used in cigars and cigarettes, snuff, and pipe and chewing tobacco.
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 (Nicotiana tabacum). The Old World species figured prominently in herbals and in the magic potions of alchemy. The family also includes several important food plants, e.g., the potatopotato
or white potato,
common name for a perennial plant (Solanum tuberosum) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family) and for its swollen underground stem, a tuber, which is one of the most widely used vegetables in Western temperate climates.
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 (Solanum tuberosum), the tomatotomato,
plant (Lycopersicon esculentum) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), related to the potato and eggplant. Although cultivated in Mexico and Peru for centuries before the European conquest, the tomato is one of the newest plants to be used on a large scale
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 (Lycopersicon esculentum), the pepperspepper,
name for the fruits of several unrelated Old and New World plants used as spices or vegetables or in medicine. Old World (True) Peppers

Black pepper (Piper nigrum
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 (except black pepper, which is a Piperaceae), or pimientos (species of Capsicum), and the eggplanteggplant,
name for Solanum melongena, a large-leaved woody perennial shrub (often grown as an annual herb) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), and also cultivated for its ovoid fruit.
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 (Solanum melongena), the only one native to the Old World. Species of salpiglossissalpiglossis
, any plant of the genus Salpiglossis of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), herbs native to Chile and widely cultivated elsewhere as garden annuals for their richly variegated, funnel-shaped blossoms in a variety of colors. Painted tongue (S.
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, petuniapetunia,
any plant of the genus Petunia, South American herbs of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family). The common garden petunias, planted also in window boxes, are all considered hybrids of white-flowered and violet-flowered species from Argentina.
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, butterfly flowerbutterfly flower,
or poor-man's-orchid,
any of the showy plants of the genus Schizanthus of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), native to Chile but grown elsewhere as garden or greenhouse annuals.
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, and the genus Solanum are among the members of the family cultivated as ornamentals.

The name nightshade is commonly restricted to members of the Solanum, characterized by white or purplish star-shaped flowers and decorative usually orange berries; among the better known species are the bittersweetbittersweet,
name for two unrelated plants, belonging to different families, both fall-fruiting woody vines sometimes cultivated for their decorative scarlet berries. One, called also woody nightshade (Solanum dulcamara
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, or woody nightshade (S. dulcamara), the buffalo bur (S. rostratum), the horse, or bull, nettle (S. carolinense), the Jerusalem cherry (S. pseudocapsicum), and the black nightshade (S. niger). The buffalo bur, originally native to the Western plains, and the horse nettle, native to the Southeast, are straggly, prickly plants which are now naturalized over most of the United States and often become pests. The berries of the horse nettle (not a true nettlenettle,
common name for the Urticaceae, a family of fibrous herbs, small shrubs, and trees found chiefly in the tropics and subtropics. Several genera of nettles are covered with small stinging hairs that on contact emit an irritant (formic acid) which produces a skin rash
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 botanically) have been used medicinally. Leaves of the buffalo bur served as food for the Colorado potato beetlepotato beetle,
name for two beetles of the leaf beetle family and for two of the blister beetle family, all destructive to the potato plant and its relatives. Most notorious is the Colorado potato beetle, or potato bug (Leptinotarsa decemlineata
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 before the advent of the cultivated potato in its vicinity. Both plants are sometimes called sandbursandbur
or bur grass,
any species of the genus Cenchrus of the family Poaceae (grass family), sandy-soil plants of tropical and temperate regions. At maturity the sharp spines and burlike seeds make the plant a troublesome weed, especially to sheepgrowers.
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, properly the name for a prickly grass. The Jerusalem cherry, probably of Old World origin, is a house plant popular for its scarlet berries. The black nightshade was named for the dull black color of its berries, unusual for the genus; it is native to Europe but naturalized throughout the United States, where it is now one of the most common species of Solanum found growing wild. Because its leaves may be poisonous, it is sometimes called deadly nightshade, properly the name for the belladonna, which is not found wild in America. Nightshades are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Solanales, family Solanaceae.

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poisonous flower; symbol of falsehood. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 176]
See: Deceit
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any of various solanaceous plants, such as deadly nightshade, woody nightshade, and black nightshade
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
absoluta could affect tomato crops, only 1 suspected that it also affects eggplant and nightshades, and none of the farmers answered that T.
African nightshade (Solanum spp.) is a group of African Indigenous Vegetable (AIV) species that are cultivated and consumed in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa especially in Eastern, Western and Southern Africa.
Mandrake root is a nightshade that was said to incite desire for love even among those who did not want it -- when taken in the correct doses.
There is some negative buzz on nightshades, with reports that they may cause inflammation, rashes, GI upset, and migraines.
Even tiny quantities of nightshades hidden in other foods can contribute to excruciating arthritis pain, and nightshades are everywhere.
For over a century farmers have not permitted their livestock to eat nightshades. They would send their children out to the pasture to pull them up or today, they often use herbicides.
Used in shamanism, witchcraft, and even poisonous murder, nightshades have a history of both mystical danger and scientific caution.
"A biological control agent must be host specific, otherwise it can harm crops or native nightshades that don't pose a threat," Bryson says.
That's often a member of the nightshade family, such as potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplants.
All symptoms have disappeared since eliminating the nightshades. Bless you!"
Tracy Houghton, owner of the Nightshade shop in Builth Wells said she had been through the post office's recruitment process and now has a signed contract.