Also referred to as “Deadly Nightshade,” this plant grows from a meaty root into a small shrub measuring about five feet tall. The berries appear green at first, before ripening to a glossy black. You need to know about both color stages to recognize Nightshade. The plant possesses long, oval shaped leaves that make it easy to identify.
Although native cultures have used Nightshade for centuries for medicinal purposes, most botanists now recognize the plant as poisonous. The berries are hard to see, as they grow only to a size of one centimeter in diameter. Considered one of the deadliest plants in the northern hemisphere, Nightshade contains the highly toxic poison tropane alkaloid.
The berries present a great threat because the alluring sweet taste and beautiful appearance tempt you to put a few in your mouth. Consuming only two of the small berries can quickly kill an adult. Nightshade poison symptoms include balance loss, severe headache, blurred vision, and towards the end, hallucinations. The poison kills by shutting down the nervous system to cause involuntary rapid heart rates and erratic breathing.