Henbane: characteristics, main species and properties

The henbane It is one of the plants that has been associated with magic and witchcraft since ancient times. The fact of considering this type of plants with magical properties caused their persecution by considering them allies of the devil himself. Today we know that humans have been able to take advantage of these toxins since they have toxic elements. However, they have been exploited to use anesthetic properties and to cause alterations in the state of consciousness. There are two main species of henbane: black and white.

In this article we are going to tell you about all the characteristics, properties and uses of henbane.

Key features

black henbane

We are talking about a plant that in ancient times was related to magic and witchcraft. This is due to its toxic properties. And it is that it has high toxicity active principles that serve to protect itself from herbivores. Most of the plants that were related to the mafia belong to the Solanaceae group. The vast majority of these species belong to a family that adopted as a defensive form having active complexes of high toxicity. Many related it to myths in which it was said that it only arose in cemeteries and mysterious places. They were also said to have magical properties.

For the detection of many mystery lovers, only to say that these are normal plants. The difference from other species is that they belong to a group of ruderal plants. They have a clear preference to grow in places that are related to human activities. In a place where large amounts of waste, residues, etc. accumulate. As for example in open fields, fields, marginal areas, roads and citiesthe henbane will grow easily.

Types of henbane

We are now going to talk about the different types of henbane best known that exist.

White henbane

Hyoscyamus albus

His scientific name is Hyoscyamus albus L. and belongs to the Solanaceae family. The range of the white henbane is in the Mediterranean region. As we have mentioned before, it is a species with a tendency to grow in places related to human activity. Therefore, its habitat is in areas with walls, dumps, roads near agricultural areas, etc. In summary, it can be said that the habitat of the white henbane is in places where there is a high abundance of nitrogen.

It is a kind of biennial with stems covered with long, soft hairs. If good conditions grow, it can reach half a meter in height. Its leaves are petiolate type and have incisions on the edges. The flowers are arranged in the form of groups of dense inflorescences. These flowers have a pale yellow color with the inner part tending to purple.

In the Solanaceae group there are not only plants that have been related to women and magic. There are also plants that are harmless such as potatoes and tomatoes. Within this group is another much more dangerous that is known by the name of black henbane. This last species is characterized by having a high concentration of toxins that can lead to disorders in the central nervous system. We will see the characteristics of the black henbane below.

The name of henbane derives from the Latin Belenus. Belenus is a Gallic God to whom this plant was consecrated with which the Gauls poisoned their arrows. Not everything related to this plant is negative, since in the past a use was discovered to numb patients who were going to undergo surgery before chloroform was discovered.

Black henbane

black henbane flowers

The scientific name of this plant is Hyoscyamus niger and has irregular type flowers. If it is developed in good conditions, it can reach heights of between 90-100 centimeters. It has five petals that are attached to each other. It has a yellowish-brown corolla with purple nerves. This corolla is generally funnel-shaped with a dark throat. It has five sepals that are also united and the calyx is bell-shaped. Said calyx is more swollen in the fruit with hardened lobes in the form of thorns.

As for its leaves, they are of the alternate type and are petiolated in the form of a rosette. Stem leaves that do not have petioles are hugged to the same stem. The fruit of this plant is a capsule that is persistently included inside the calyx. As we have mentioned before, these types of plants have an ecosystem and a habitat related to human activities. Therefore, we see that habitat is usually related to vacant lots, roadsides, gardens, fields, courtyards, ruins, harbors, mills, church cemeteryetc. That is, everything where high levels of nitrogen are found due to human activity.

The black henbane is a thick hairy, sticky, biennial plant. It has a direct stem and is somewhat fetid. This means that it smells bad. We know that it has a large amount of poison since it contains alkaloids with a paralyzing effect on the muscular system. This is the reason that, throughout history, this plant has been used to relieve toothaches and earaches. Since the Middle Ages it was used as a narcotic in various operations.

We can often find the black henbane near old residences and forts. The seed can remain viable for a long time. It is an adaptation mechanism to be able to survive different environments and create new adaptations in the long term. When we dig the earth they are able to germinate if they find the ideal conditions. In the year of germination the plant can produce a rosette of leaves. Once you have created all your leaves, the following year is when you begin to create flowers. By the time the flowers have grown, the rosette-shaped leaves will already be wilted.

As you can see, there are plants with all the history behind them related to witchcraft and magic. However, with the advancement of science it has been possible to use its toxic substances for medical purposes. I hope that with this information you can learn more about the henbane and its main species.

Henbane: characteristics, main species and properties

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