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Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade

Circaea alpina

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Onagraceae (Willowherb)
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
30 centimetres tall
Meadows, mountains, riversides, rocky places, waterside, woodland.

White, 2 petals
Small white or light pink petals. Flowers appear inside flower spikes. Each flower measures from 1 to 3mm across.
Club-shaped fruit with soft bristles. Single-seeded.
Heart-shaped, stalked, hairless leaves. The leaves are sharply toothed and in opposite pairs up the stem. Rarely encountered in the UK away from the Lake District and the Isle of Arran. Perennial.
Other Names:
Dwarf Enchanter's Nightshade, Small Enchanter's Nightshade.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Circaea alpina, also known as alpine enchanter's nightshade or small 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 alpina is a perennial herb that grows to a height of about 30 cm (1 foot). 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 alpina 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.


Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade, also known as Circaea alpina, is a beautiful and unique plant that has captured the hearts of botanists and gardeners alike. This plant is native to the alpine regions of Europe and Asia and is known for its delicate and intricate beauty.

Circaea alpina is a perennial herb that grows to be about 30 to 60 cm tall. It has a delicate, lacy appearance, with small, oval leaves that are a beautiful green color. The leaves grow alternately along the stem and are finely toothed along the edges.

One of the most striking features of the Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade is its flowers. These small, white flowers are delicate and intricately shaped, with long petals that give the flower a star-like appearance. The flowers bloom from June to August and are held on long, slender stems that rise above the foliage.

This plant is not only beautiful but also has a rich and fascinating history. Circaea alpina was once used by the ancient Greeks for medicinal purposes and was considered to have magical properties. It was believed that the plant had the power to enchant and to bring good luck. The plant was also thought to have the ability to ward off evil spirits and to protect against disease.

Despite its magical history, Circaea alpina is also a useful plant for modern-day gardeners. It is easy to grow and maintain and requires only a moderate amount of care. It can be grown in a variety of soils and prefers moist, well-drained soil. This plant is also a good choice for shady areas and is perfect for planting under trees or in woodland gardens.

The Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade is a beautiful and unique plant that is sure to add charm and beauty to any garden. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or a newcomer to the world of botany, this plant is sure to captivate you with its delicate beauty and fascinating history.

In addition to its beauty and interesting history, Circaea alpina is also beneficial to the environment. This plant is an important food source for many different species of pollinators, including bees and butterflies. It provides these insects with the nectar they need to survive and, in turn, helps to maintain a healthy ecosystem.

Another advantage of Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade is its versatility. This plant can be used in a variety of different ways in the garden. For example, it can be grown as a ground cover, planted in a border, or used as an accent plant. It also makes a beautiful addition to a rock garden or a wildflower meadow.

When it comes to care and maintenance, Circaea alpina is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to care for. It does not require any special pruning or fertilizing, but it does benefit from regular watering, especially during periods of drought. This plant is also relatively disease-resistant, making it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is easy to care for.

Finally, it is worth noting that Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade is a relatively uncommon plant, making it a great choice for gardeners who are looking for something unique and special. This plant is not widely available in nurseries and garden centers, but it can often be found at specialty plant nurseries or through online plant retailers.

Alpine Enchanter's Nightshade, or Circaea alpina, is a beautiful, versatile, and low-maintenance plant that is sure to make a stunning addition to any garden. Whether you are a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this plant is definitely worth considering for your next gardening project.

In terms of its distribution, Circaea alpina can be found in the alpine regions of Europe and Asia, but it is also cultivated in gardens around the world. It is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of different climates, including cool temperate regions and alpine climates. It is also well-suited to the growing conditions in many regions of North America, making it a popular choice for gardeners on that continent.

When planting Circaea alpina, it is important to choose a location that provides the plant with the growing conditions it needs to thrive. This plant prefers partial shade and moist, well-drained soil. If you are planting in full sun, be sure to provide the plant with enough moisture to help it maintain its moisture levels.

One of the best things about Circaea alpina is that it is a low-maintenance plant that is easy to grow and care for. It is relatively disease-resistant and does not require any special pruning or fertilizing. However, it is a good idea to mulch around the base of the plant to help maintain a consistent level of moisture in the soil.

In conclusion, Circaea alpina is a beautiful and versatile plant that is well-suited to a variety of different gardening styles and climates. Whether you are planting in a rock garden, a wildflower meadow, or a border, this plant is sure to bring beauty and elegance to your garden.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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