Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A poisonous Eurasian plant (Hyoscyamus niger) having an unpleasant odor, sticky leaves, and funnel-shaped greenish-yellow flowers. It is a source of the drug hyoscyamine.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A poisonous plant, Hyoscyamus niger, used sometimes as a drug that causes at least hallucinations, dilated pupils, restlessness, and flushed skin.
  • n. Any other plant of the genus Hyoscyamus.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A plant of the genus Hyoscyamus (Hyoscyamus niger). All parts of the plant are poisonous, and the leaves are used for the same purposes as belladonna. It is poisonous to domestic fowls; whence the name. Called also, stinking nightshade, from the fetid odor of the plant. See hyoscyamus.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A plant of the genus Hyoscyamus, natural order Solanaceæ.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. poisonous fetid Old World herb having sticky hairy leaves and yellow-brown flowers; yields hyoscyamine and scopolamine

Etymologies

From hen + bane. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Celebrity (their word, he means nothing to me) chef Antony Worrall Thompsonis quoted in a magazine interview about watercress and other wild foods saying that the weed henbane is "great in salads".

    Waiter, there's poison in my soup

  • According to the BBC: "Healthy & Organic Living magazine's website has now issued an urgent warning that" henbane is a very toxic plant and should never be eaten ".

    Waiter, there's poison in my soup

  • Do you know when I was ill I was made to take henbane, which is a drug that has the power to make one's eyes magnify like a microscope.

    Plays: Comrades; Facing Death; Pariah; Easter

  • 17H21NO4, extracted from plants such as henbane and used primarily as a mydriatic and sedative, and to treat nausea and prevent motion sickness.

    Word of the Day

  • Some claim to like the smell of henbane; the mind boggles, quite literally – sniffing it too deeply can cause dizziness.

    Country diary: Elton, Cambridgeshire

  • The smell, slightly scary, but medicinal henbane plant.

    Country diary: Elton, Cambridgeshire

  • On a patch of sandy ground stands a solitary henbane.

    Country diary: Elton, Cambridgeshire

  • Hawley Harvey Crippen, also known as Dr Crippen, is thought to have used seeds from the henbane plant to kill his wife in 1910.

    Waiter, there's poison in my soup

  • There are various recipes for dwale from the Middle Ages, and I think they generally feature hemlock, henbane, opium and various other ingredients.

    Early medieval surgical knowledge

  • Re operating on patients without anaesthesia, results of examinations at the medieval Augustinian monastery and hospital at Soutra shows that the monks used opium, black henbane and hemlock, presumably to deaden pain and during surgical procedures, and it seems to me quite possible that earlier healers would also have known of and used herbs in similar ways.

    Early medieval surgical knowledge

Comments

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  • "At Bethlehem Hospital Crippen added a new drug to his basket, hydrobromide of hyoscine, derived from an herb of the nightshade family, Hyoscyamus niger, known more commonly as henbane."
    —Erik Larson, Thunderstruck (New York: Crown Publishers, 2006), 33

    More on mydriatic.

    July 7, 2009

  • Hyoscyamus niger

    August 1, 2007