Hyoscyamus niger (Scientific name)

General poisoning notes:

Black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) is a naturalized herb found across parts of southern Canada. This plant contains several alkaloids, and it has caused rare poisoning in humans, cattle, poultry, and swine. Human poisoning has been accidental or purposeful because of its reported medicinal or hallucinogenic properties. Black henbane has been used medicinally since ancient times to help with a variety of health problems and as a preventative. Its hallucinogenic effects have led people to eat the seed or chew the flowers, often with detrimental results. Ingestion causes anticholinergic syndrome with stimulatory and hallucinatory effects (Hocking 1947, Spoerke et al. 1987). Cattle have been poisoned in Europe after ingesting black henbane that was included in forage. The alkaloid content is retained upon drying, and ingestion is said to taint the milk of cows. Poultry have died after ingesting the seeds, and pigs have died after eating the roots (Cooper and Johnson 1984, Spoerke et al. 1987).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Hocking, G. M. 1947. Henbane - healing herb of Hercules and of Apollo. Econ. Bot., 1: 306-316.
  • Spoerke, D. G., Hall, A. H., Dodson, C. D., Stermitz, F. R., Swanson, C. H., Rumack, B. H. 1987. Mystery root ingestion. J. Emerg. Med., 5: 385-388.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Hyoscyamus niger L.
Vernacular name(s):
Black Henbane
Scientific family name:
Solanaceae
Vernacular family name:
Nightshade

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Hyoscyamus niger

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada. , Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or illustration

Images: Hyoscyamus niger - Google Search

Notes on Poisonous plant parts:

All parts of the plant contain alkaloids in varying quantities (see the additional notes under chemicals). Ingestion of four flowers has caused some symptoms in humans (Frohne and Pfander 1983, Spoerke et al. 1987).

Toxic parts:

  • All parts
  • Flowers
  • Leaves
  • Roots
  • Seeds

References:

  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.

Notes on Toxic plant chemicals:

Hyoscyamine, hyoscine, and atropine can all be found in black henbane. The alkaloid content has been measured at 0.08% (roots), 0.17% (leaves), and 0.3% (seeds). The major affect of hyoscyamine is depression of the central nervous system (Frohne and Pfander 1983; Cooper and Johnson 1984).

Toxic plant chemicals:

  • Atropine
  • Hyoscine(scopolamine)
  • Hyoscyamine

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Frohne, D., Pfander, H. J. 1983. A colour atlas of poisonous plants. Wolfe Publishing Ltd., London, England. 291 pp.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Symptoms of ingestion include restlessness, excitation, convulsions, pupil dilation, difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, and bloat. Postmortem examination showed degeneration of heart muscle and cyanosis of mucous membranes (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

General symptoms of poisoning:

Notes on poisoning:

Symptoms of poisoning include thirst, dry mouth, dilated pupils, warm and flushed skin, and hallucinations. Purposeless movements, such as picking at the air, have been observed. Heart rate is elevated. These are the symptoms that occur after the roots are ingested. Ingesting the flowers has caused agitation, restlessness, dry skin, and pupil dilation (Spoerke et al. 1987).

References:

  • Hocking, G. M. 1947. Henbane - healing herb of Hercules and of Apollo. Econ. Bot., 1: 306-316.
  • Spoerke, D. G., Hall, A. H., Dodson, C. D., Stermitz, F. R., Swanson, C. H., Rumack, B. H. 1987. Mystery root ingestion. J. Emerg. Med., 5: 385-388.

Poultry

No details about poisoning symptoms available.

Swine

No details about poisoning symptoms available.

Another search?