Deadly nightshade is a poisonous plant from which several drugs are extracted. It is found all over Europe and western Asia. A stout bush that stands about 1.5 metres tall, deadly nightshade has dull green leaves and large bell-shaped flowers. The flowers are bluish purple or red in colour. The plant also bears glossy black berries which are so poisonous that people have died from eating them.
Ophthalmologists use the drug atropine, which is extracted from the plant, to dilate the pupils of the eyes during an eye examination.
The scientific name for the plant is atropa belladonna. The extract of the plant was once used by women to dilate their pupils, in the mistaken belief that it made them look more beautiful! Belladonna means pretty lady in Italian.