The genus Circaea contains 7–10 species of flowering plants, known as enchanter's nightshade, in the willowherb family, Onagraceae. They are woodland plants occurring in temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere with one species, alpine enchanter's nightshade (Circaea alpina) being widespread throughout the Northern Hemisphere. The broad-leaved enchanter's nightshade (Circaea lutetiana) is found in Eurasia and the eastern enchanter's nightshade (Circaea canadensis) is found in North America. In addition, there is an intermediate hybrid between these two, and several local species or subspecies, with between eight and 14 forms recognised by different authorities. The hybrid is sterile, persisting only by vegetative reproduction and not producing seeds.

Circaea lutetiana01.jpg
Circaea lutetiana
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Myrtales
Family: Onagraceae
Subfamily: Onagroideae
Tribe: Circaeeae
Genus: Circaea
Tourn. ex L.

Plants in this genus disperse their seeds by producing burrs that adhere to clothing, fur and feathers.

Circaea is in the family Onagraceae, which also includes willowherbs, evening primroses and fuchsias. The genus is named after the enchantress Circe from Greek mythology, who is supposed to have used enchanter's nightshade in her magic. Enchanter's nightshade is not related to the nightshade family that includes deadly nightshade and the genus Solanum (the Solanaceae). Molecular evidence indicates the closest relative to Circaea is the lineage that gave rise to the genus Fuchsia, which diverged from it around 41 million years ago.[1]


Circaea lutetiana
Circaea alpina


  1. ^ Berry, Paul E.; William J. Hahn; Kenneth J. Sytsma; Jocelyn C. Hall & Austin Mast (2004). "Phylogenetic relationships and biogeography of Fuchsia (Onagraceae) based on noncoding nuclear and chloroplast DNA data". American Journal of Botany. 91 (4): 601–14. doi:10.3732/ajb.91.4.601. PMID 21653416.

External linksEdit