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British Wildlife 34.1 October 2022

The dark world of Henbane

Henbane has long been a source of fascination in the realms of medicine, religion and science, and in this article Peter Marren describes the history of Henbane in Britain, how its poisonous properties have been used since the fourth millennium BCE, and its occurrence in Britain today.

Henbane Hyoscyamus niger is a favourite plant of mine. I love its shaggy beauty, its sinister, some might say menacing, parchment-yellow, purple-veined flowers with their ‘evil’ purple eye, flaring like corpse-coloured trumpets. Add to that the grey-green cast of its dense, notched leaves; and its musty smell, like body odour, some say, or a rotting fish.

Natural reflections
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