Atropa belladonna is a perennial branching herb growing to 5 feet tall, with 8 inch long ovate leaves. The leaves in first-year Atropa belladonna plants are larger than those of older plants.
The flowers are bell-shaped, blue-purple or dull red, followed by a shiny, black or purple 0.5 inch berry.Native of Europe and Asia. In earlier times in Italy, extracts of belladonna were used to dialate their eyes for cosmetic purposes; such use explains the origin of the common name (Italian, "beautiful woman"). Belladonna was also an important ingredient in Witches brew during the Middle ages, often being equated with aggressive female sexuality.
A flying ointment salve was made from this plant along with others, and rubbed on the bodies of women to experience erotic sensations and hallucinations. Experiments have shown that the subjective sensation of flight was a common theme with subjects under the influence of solanaceous compounds, not unlike what was reportedly experienced by witches.
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