Scopolia carniolica, the European scopolia or henbane bell, is a poisonous plant belonging to the family Solanaceae, It has dark violet flowers on long hanging stems. It grows to 60 centimetres (24 in) in height. Its toxicity derives from its high levels of tropane alkaloids, particularly atropine. The concentration of atropine is highest in the roots.
Scopolia carniolica grows on wet soils in beech forests of southeastern Europe from lowlands to the mountainous zones, being native to a region stretching from the eastern Alps to the eastern Carpathians and also naturalised farther east in southwestern Russia. The rare form Scopolia carniolica f. hladnikiana (which differs from the common form in having a corolla that is greenish yellow,both inside and out) is native to Slovenia.
Scopolia carniolica was first described by the botanist Carl Linnaeus and named in honour of the physician Giovanni Antonio Scopoli as Hyoscyamus scopolia. Nikolaus Joseph von Jacquin classified it to the genus Scopolia. The specific name carniolica signifies 'of Carniola', a historical region that comprised parts of modern-day Slovenia (see also Duchy of Carniola and March of Carniola).
Use in folk medicine and criminal poisoningEdit
The plant was used in the late Middle Ages as a narcotic agent and an ingredient in 'love potions' – a practice frequently resulting in fatal cases of poisoning. Furthermore, in its native Carpathians, Scopolia carniolica was also used with criminal intent, either to stupefy victims in order to rob them, or to kill them outright.
- "Scopolia carniolica". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 8 November 2015.
- Starý, František, Poisonous Plants (Hamlyn colour guides) – pub. Paul Hamlyn April, 1984, translated from the Czech by Olga Kuthanová.
- Soban, Branko (January 2005). "A Living Bond between Idrija and Uppsala". Slovenija.svet. Slovene Emigrant Association. Retrieved 2007-12-01.
- Scopoli, Giovanni Antonio. Joannes A. Scopoli-Carl Linnaeus. Dopisovanje/Correspondence 1760-1775, ed. Darinka Soban. Ljubljana, 2004: Slovene Natural History Society.CS1 maint: location (link)
Media related to Scopolia carniolica at Wikimedia Commons
Data related to Scopolia carniolica at Wikispecies