Black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger
) is a highly poisonous plant with a long history of use in medicine, witchcraft, murder, and cases of accidental poisonings in humans and animals. The plant is native to Europe and northern Africa, but is cultivated for medicinal and ornamental purposes worldwide. Black henbane is an annual or bienniel. The entire plant has a foul odor and grows up to 3 ft in height. It has erect, leafy, branched stems with are densely covered with long glandular hairs. It has lance-shaped to oblong leaves which have a few hairs on the bottom (basal) margins, which are slightly wavy. The veins on the leaves are prominent and depressed on the upper surface. It produces one-sided clusters of funnel-shaped, 5-lobed, greenish to brownish-yellow flowers which have a purple center and purple veins. These flowers usually bloom between June through September. Black henbane has egg-shaped fruits which contains hundreds of tiny black seeds.
Black henbane contains tropane alkaloids (hyoscyamine, atropine and scopolamine). The seeds contain the highest concentration of toxins, although all parts are poisonous. Horses rarely consume henbane due to its foal odor and bitter taste, however if they are without another food source they may.