Its Latin name is Dulcamara (dulcis, sweet; amarus, bitter.) In various countries it has different names; as, Mortal, Bitter Sweet, and Felon Wort.

It is a climbing plant, and is common in moist hedges; its stems often reach to the height of five or six feet. The branch has a whitish bark, and a pith in the middle of it. The main stem divides into many small ones with claspers, laying hold on what is next to them. It bears many leaves, rather long and broad, and pointed at the ends; some of them have one or two little leaves growing at the end of their footstalks.

The colour of the leaves is pale green; the flowers are purple with a yellow centre, and they stand together in knots. The berries, when ripe, are red, approaching to scarlet, and they stand together in knots. They taste sweet at first, and then bitter. This plant is nearly allied to the potato, which it very closely resembles in the odour of its root. The berries are poisonous, but not so much so as the twigs of the plant which are very acrid and narcotic. This plant flowers in July, and the seeds are ripe at the end of July.

Herbal Remedies and Medicinal Uses of Woody Nightshade:

To make the decoction, the twigs should be gathered early in spring, as thick as a goose-quill. One ounce of them to be chopped up, and boiled in a pint and a half of water, till reduced to half the quantity. It has been regarded as a powerful medicine, increasing all the secretions and excretions, to excite the heart and arteries; and in large doses to produce nausea, vomiting, and convulsions.

The plant may be regarded as alterative, diuretic, sudorific, and mildly narcotic. It has been recommended in cutaneous affections, in rheumatic and cathartic swellings, in had ulcers, scrofula, jaundice, obstructed menstruation, and syphillis. The dose of the powder is from 1 to 3 scruples; of the decoction about a wineglassful; of the Extract, from 5 to 10 grains; of the Syrup, half an ounce to an ounce. The berries both purge and vomit, and are extremely dangerous for children. Take a pound of the wood and leaves bruised, and infuse in three pints of white wine over a gentle fire about 4 or 5 hours; and strain. This removes obstructions of the liver and spleen, and relieves difficulty of breathing. It forms a gentle purgative.

[NOTE: this article is reprinted from a herbalist's handbook written in the early 1800's. The advice given here should NOT be followed. Do not consume this plant. It can kill you!]
Important Disclaimer:   The information contained on this web site is for educational purposes only. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any diseases. Any information presented is not a substitute for professional medical advice and should not take the place of any prescribed medication. Please do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consultation with your physician.

This page and the rest of the encyclopedia of medicinal herbs was reproduced from old herbals written in the 1700 and 1800s. They are of historical interest to show the traditional uses of various herbs based on folk medicine and ancient wisdom. However the traditional uses for these herbs have not been confirmed by medical science and in some cases may actually be dangerous. Do not use the these herbs for any use, medicinal or otherwise, without first consulting a qualified doctor.

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