Atropa acuminata, rare seeds of the Indian Belladonna
Atropa acuminata, Indian Belladonna seeds
Atropa acuminata belongs to the family of the Solanacaea, the nightshades. It is native to India and is also known as Indian Banewort or Indian Belladonna. There it occurs even at 3600 m above sea level. Atropa acuminata grows as an herbaceous plant that reaches a height of about 0,9 m. Sometimes it gets 1,5 m high. Therewith it is a little big higher than Atropa belladonna. The leaves are ovate, dark green with a short petiole. Older individuals get a little bit reddish in all parts. The flowers are yellowish to brownish and bell shaped. They are hermaphrodite and are pollinated by insects. The fruits of the Indian Belladonna are first green and then they change their color to dark black, they are never ever red. The fruits are extremely poisonous. One should put the plant away from kid, because the black fruits are very attractive for them. The plant is poisonous in all parts. One should always wear gloves when working with Atropa acuminata. Small fissures and little wounds in the skin can be enough to get poisoned. Atropa acuminata contains many alkaloids amongst others atropine. Atropine is a strong neurotoxin. It blocks the acetylcholinesterase receptor in the postsynaptic membrane. That leads to the anticholinerg syndrome and finally to death. However atropine can also be used as an antidote. During war soldiers had to carry small bottles of atropine with them. When they got poisoned through neural warfare agents or insecticides, atropine could save their life. The neural warfare agents block the enzyme that is necessary for the reduction of acetylcholine. Through blocking the acetylcholine receptor at the postsynaptic membrane atropine can balance the oversupply of acetylcholine. Furthermore the alkaloids of the Indian Belladonna are used against Parkinson disease and tremors. All parts of the Indian Belladonna are highly poisonous. The most poison is concentrated in the roots. With the age of the plant the concentration of alkaloids varies strongly being low while flowering and high while the plant has fruits. All in all Atropa acuminata has to be threatened very careful!
Cultivation of Indian belladonna:
The seeds of Atropa acuminata need a cold stratification meaning that they should be put into the fridge for 1 month at a temperature of about 4°C. After that they can be planted into the substrate. The Indian Belladonna prefers a substrate that is rich in calcium carbonate. At a temperature of about 20°C and constant moist substrate, germination occurs after 6 month. Sometimes germination occurs a bit earlier. Atropa acuminata is winter hardy.
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