Nightshade Vegetables and Ornamentals - Are They Tasty or Toxic?
Nightshade - Solanaceae
Datura, or Jimson weed, Mandrake, and petunias all are in the nightshade family. All of these plants, stems, leaves and berries are poisonous!
These seeds are a hallucinogen, and has also been call 'loco weed'.
Mandrake roots resemble humans and superstitions suggest the roots scream when they are pulled. These roots have a place in Wica and other magical rituals.
But I would never eat any of these, right? Nightshade family has 1500 - 2000 species - many of them we do eat.
Eggplant should always be cooked well, and any potato that has turned green or has elongated eyes should be tossed.
All Nightshade plants have a substance called alkaloids. Potato and eggplant produce a Solanine. Tomatine is found in tomatoes, capsaisin, in chili peppers. These elements are in high concentrations in the leaves and stems of these plants and should never be eaten!
All of these are members of the Nightshade family.
Even though the alkaloids are dangerous to ingest, the plants have produced them to protect themselves from pests. The medical community does use some of them too. Atropine has been derived from Nightshade alkaloids, and is used as an eye dilator. Useful drugs have been developed from these plant substances to treat poisons, treat side effects of chemo and even sarin, which is a chemical warfare substance. And some research has indicated that eating Nightshade vegetables can exacerbate arthritis and other joint and muscle pain.