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Enchanter's Nightshade

Circaea lutetiana

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
65 centimetres tall
Fields, gardens, hedgerows, meadows, riversides, scrub, wasteland, waterside, woodland.

White, 2 petals
2 tiny white deeply notched petals, sometimes tinged pale pink, upto 7mm across. Hairy sepals and no bracts. Stigmas are deeply lobed. Flower spike not overcrowded, positioned at the top of the main stem.
Burr-like fruits, teardrop-shaped, not splitting open when ripe. Each fruit has 2 chambers and is covered in hooked hairs which cling to clothing upon passing by.
Simple, toothed, heart-shaped leaves, up to 5 inches long and 3 inches wide. The opposite pairs of leaves are at right-angles to the pair below. The upper leaves are the smallest.
Other Names:
Broadleaf Enchanter's Nightshade, Herb of St Etienne, Paris Nightshade, Parisian Enchanter's Nightshade, Sorcerer of Paris, St Stephen's Wort, Witches Grass.
Frequency (UK):

Similar Species

Other Information


Circaea lutetiana, also known as enchanter's nightshade or Parisian enchanter's nightshade, is a species of flowering plant in the evening primrose family. It is native to Europe and is found in a variety of habitat types, including forests, meadows, and streamsides. Circaea lutetiana is a perennial herb that grows to a height of about 60 cm (2 feet). It has oval-shaped leaves and small, white flowers that bloom in the summer. The flowers are a popular nectar source for bees and other insects. Circaea lutetiana is often used in gardens as an ornamental plant and is also used in naturalized plantings and in erosion control. It is generally easy to grow and does well in moist, well-draining soil.


Enchanter's Nightshade: A Plant with Enchanting Beauty and Properties

Enchanter's nightshade, also known as Circaea lutetiana, is a delicate and beautiful plant that grows in woodlands and other damp, shady areas throughout much of Europe and North America. This plant is a member of the evening primrose family and is known for its small, white or pink flowers that bloom in the summer.

Despite its delicate appearance, enchanter's nightshade is a hardy plant that is relatively easy to care for. It can be grown in partial shade or full shade and prefers moist, well-drained soil. This plant can also be propagated through division or by seed.

In addition to its beauty, enchanter's nightshade has a long history of use in traditional medicine. The plant was once believed to have magical powers and was used in spells and incantations. The name "enchanter's nightshade" is said to come from the ancient belief that the plant was used by enchanters to cast spells at night.

Today, enchanter's nightshade is still used in traditional medicine, particularly in Europe. The plant is believed to have a number of medicinal properties, including anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic, and diuretic effects. It has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including headaches, digestive problems, and skin conditions.

Despite its medicinal properties, enchanter's nightshade should be used with caution, as it can be toxic if taken in large quantities. The plant contains a number of toxic compounds, including alkaloids and tannins, which can cause nausea, vomiting, and other symptoms if ingested in large amounts.

Enchanter's nightshade is a beautiful and enchanting plant that is both easy to care for and has a rich history of use in traditional medicine. While its medicinal properties should not be ignored, it is important to use caution when using this plant and to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before using it for any medicinal purposes. Whether you are growing it in your garden or using it for its medicinal properties, enchanter's nightshade is a plant that is sure to captivate and delight you.

Aside from its medicinal uses, enchanter's nightshade is also a popular ornamental plant. Its delicate flowers and attractive foliage make it a popular choice for gardens, particularly in shaded areas. The plant is often used as a ground cover, as it spreads easily and can form a dense carpet of foliage.

In some regions, enchanter's nightshade is considered an invasive species. This is because it can spread quickly and outcompete native plants, leading to a loss of biodiversity in an area. If you are planning on growing enchanter's nightshade in your garden, it is important to be mindful of its potential to spread and to take steps to prevent it from becoming invasive.

Another interesting aspect of enchanter's nightshade is its relationship with moths. The flowers of the plant are known to attract night-flying moths, which are important pollinators for the plant. This symbiotic relationship is important for the survival of both the plant and the moths, and is a great example of the delicate balance that exists in the natural world.

In folklore and mythology, enchanter's nightshade is often associated with magic and enchantment. The plant is said to have the power to ward off evil spirits and protect against bad luck. It is also associated with the goddess of the moon, and was used in spells and rituals to call upon her power.

Enchanter's nightshade is a fascinating plant with a rich history and many uses. Whether you are growing it in your garden, using it for its medicinal properties, or simply admiring its beauty, this plant is sure to captivate you with its enchanting qualities.

In addition to its medicinal and ornamental uses, enchanter's nightshade has also been used in a number of other ways throughout history. For example, the plant's leaves have been used to make a type of ink, which was used by medieval scribes to write manuscripts and books. The ink was known for its deep, dark color and its ability to resist fading over time, making it a popular choice for important documents.

Enchanter's nightshade has also been used as a food source in some cultures. The leaves and young shoots of the plant are edible and were traditionally consumed as a wild vegetable. However, due to the plant's toxic properties, it is important to only consume it in small quantities and to make sure that it has been properly prepared to remove any toxic compounds.

The plant has also been used in traditional dyeing practices. The roots and leaves of enchanter's nightshade contain a yellow pigment that can be used as a natural dye. The dye was traditionally used to color wool and other textiles, and was prized for its ability to produce a range of yellow hues, from pale lemon to rich gold.

Enchanter's nightshade is also a popular subject for artists and photographers. The plant's delicate flowers and attractive foliage make it a beautiful subject for a variety of media, including painting, drawing, and photography. Whether you are a professional artist or simply someone who enjoys capturing the beauty of nature, enchanter's nightshade is sure to inspire you with its enchanting qualities.

In conclusion, enchanter's nightshade is a versatile and fascinating plant with a rich history and many uses. Whether you are growing it in your garden, using it for its medicinal properties, admiring its beauty, or exploring its many other uses, this plant is sure to captivate you with its enchanting qualities.


Video 1: Enchanter's Nightshade in Adlington, Lancashire on the 7th July 2022.


Video 2: Enchanter's Nightshade filmed in Capernwray, Lancashire on the 16th July 2022.


Music credits
Act Two - Tenebrous Brothers Carnival by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

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