Henbane

All parts of henbane are very poionous. Nevertheless, for centuries it has been used as a treatment and cure for various ailments. And it remains in use for medicinal purposes to this day.

As a poison, one of the best known victims of henbane was the wife of Dr Crippen: he is said to have used an extract of the plant to kill her.

Henbane flower, June 2014, Anglesey
Henbane flower, June 2014, Anglesey

Some people find henbane flowers attractive. They’re certainly fascinating in a slightly ghoulish kind of way:) It’s a biennial plant which can be grown from seed, preferring a light, calcareous soil. But you really must be ultra-cautious if you do grow it: it’s poisonous to pets and livestock too, not just humans; and some books even claim that just sniffing its bruised leaves can cause you to faint.  Indeed one of the Welsh names for the plant is Llewyg yr Iar – meaning to make hens faint.

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