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A common plant with spikes of white/pink flowers that prospers in dark, shady places in woodlands.



Enchanters Nightshade: from the dark side

Post date: Tuesday, 16 June, 2015 - 00:00

Walk through any woodland in mid-summer and in dark, shady places there is a pretty good chance you will encounter the sparkling white, sometimes pinkish, flowers of enchanter's nightshade (Circaea lutetiana).  They are small flowers that grow in spikes but, although small, they do seem to have a sparkle about them in otherwise dark surroundings. The plant also has a curious smell and whilst not poisonous I suspect it also has an unpleasant taste and is best left alone.

Enchanter's nightshade is a curious, rather evocative name and one wonders on its origins. Circe was something of an enchantress in Greek mythology and the Circaea is certainly derived from that although I can find no explanations as to why! Lutetiana comes from the Latin for Paris which Wikipedia says was known as the 'Witch City'. All very interesting perhaps but still no clear reason for a plant that is not a member of the nightshade family becoming known as enchanter's nightshade! May be it is all to do with it being an enchanting flower in a dark place where other flowers chose not to prosper? A flower from the dark side of the wood.


The records for this species have been organised into reports, charts, maps and photos. Click a pic below to see the detail:

Fact File Distribution Map Sites List Some Charts Some Photographs Recent Records Guidance Notes

To see related species click here: 

Willowherb Family Onagraceae