Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

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A biennial plant that is covered with soft, sticky hairs with an unpleasant smell. It has a thick, fleshy cylindrical root. Stems can reach to 115 cm high. Leaves soft and dull; the upper side dark green; the underside lighter, grayish, fluffy-haired, especially along veins and leaf margin. Basal leaves long-stemmed and stalk leaves are sessile, half-enclosing the stalk, leaf edges are shallowly lobed and veins are conspicuous. Flowers sessile, massed in zigzagged arrangement on inflorescence at the stalk end. Bracts sessile, mostly oblong or narrowly-lanceolate, with few teeth or entire. Calyx 10-22 mm in length, cup-shaped, with 5 pointed tips. Flower of 5 petals, is up to 4.5 cm in length, funnel-shaped, pale yellow with netted purple veins and purple-violet in the throat. Fruit is a capsule with a prominent cover. CAUTION: Plant contains several alkaloids, and it has caused rare poisoning in humans, cattle, poultry, and swine

Key Identifiers
  • Pale yellow flowers, with purple netted veins and purple throat
  • Persistent fruit capsules with 5 pointed papery cover
  • Zigzagged flowers that are along one side of inflorescence
Location in Canada
Black Henbane has been reported in Alberta across to Prince Edward Island in Canada.

Resources Similar species
Black henbane is unlikely to be confused with other species because of its distinctive flowers and fruits.


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For more information about the content of this document, contact Chris Neeser.
This document is maintained by Shelley Barkley.
This information published to the web on March 9, 2012.
Last Reviewed/Revised on February 26, 2018.