Atropa physalodes L
Boberella nicandra E.H.L. Krause
Nicandra minor Hort. ex Fisch.
Physalis daturifolia Lam.
Physalodes peruviana Kuntze
Common Name: Shoo Fly
Flowering plant, about 1.5 metres tall
Photograph by: Harald Hubich
Shoo fly is an erect, much-branched, annual plant growing up to 2 metres tall[
The plant is occasionally harvested from the wild for local food and medicinal use.
All parts of the plant are poisonous[
S. America - Peru.
Naturalized in waste places and near dwellings in much of N. America[
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Succeeds in ordinary garden soil[
], but prefers a rich well-drained soil in a sunny position[
This species has escaped from cultivation and become a weed of crop lands throughout the world in temperate and tropical zones[
]. Plants are fast-growing[
] and often self-sow freely[
Plants withstand poor weather conditions well and do not usually require staking[
Individual flowers only live for one day, but the plant produces a succession of flowers from summer to early autumn[
]. No more details are given. The fruit is a berry about 15mm in diameter[
]. Although related to, and looking similar to, Physalis species, the fruit of this plant is a dry berry containing mainly seed and, if it is not poisonous, it is certainly not worth eating[
Young leaves - boiled[
]. The tender leaves are chopped, washed and cooked alone or with other vegetables such as amaranth or cowpeas; coconut milk or pounded groundnuts are then added and the whole is served with a staple such as ugali or rice[
]. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
The plant is diuretic[
]. There is no evidence to suggest that the plant is purgative, though an alkaloid with mydriatic action is present[
The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have an acrid taste and a cooling, very poisonous potency[
]. Analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge, regular use increases bodily vigour[
]. They are used in the treatment of contagious disorders, toothache, intestinal pain from worms and impotence[
]. A decoction of the seeds is used in the treatment of fevers[
The plant is thought to repel flies[
Seed - sow in situ in late spring, preferably after the last expected frosts[
]. Young seedlings can be transplanted. The seed can remain dormant for several decades[
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