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Circaea lutetiana

Circaea lutetiana L.

 

Enchanter’s Nightshade

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassRosidaeRoses, legumes, proteas, dogwoods, hydrangeas, mistletoes, euphorbias, grapes, many more
OrderMyrtalesIncludes myrtles, leadwoods, loosestrifes, pomegranates, evening primroses, many others
FamilyOnagraceaeWillowherb/evening primrose family
GenusCircaeaNamed for Circe, an enchantress in Greek mythology who used C. lutetiana in her magic
Specieslutetiana“Of Paris”

About plant names...

Enchanter’s nightshade is native to North America. It is a member of the evening primrose family. The enchantress Circe, according to Greek mythology, used this plant in her magic, hence its common name, as well as its genus name. In fact, though, enchanter’s nightshade is not known to have any interesting properties, either medical or magical. And it is an American plant, while Circe’s role in The Odyssey brought her nowhere near America. Perhaps someone confused enchanter’s nightshade with the unrelated and very poisonous bittersweet nightshade, or with the equally poisonous deadly nightshade.

Identification: Plants are 12-24" (30-60 cm) high, favoring moist, rich woods. Leaves are hairless, roughly oval, wider toward the bottom and sometimes heart-shaped (ovate-cordate), with small teeth along the margins (dentate). Tiny white flowers ⅛" (3.2 mm) in size appear sparsely along spikes up to 6" (15 cm) long; the flowers followed by by fuzzy bur-like fruits. The flowers/burs are on short petioles about ⅛" (3.2 mm) long, alternate, and angled back along the stem, a unique identifying characteristic.

Online References:

Circaea lutetiana at Illinois Wildflowers

Circaea lutetiana at the Vanderbilt University Bioimages web site

Circaea lutetiana on Discover Life

Circaea lutetiana at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Circaea lutetiana on Wikipedia

Circaea lutetiana on www.online-utility.org

Circaea lutetiana on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Circaea lutetiana on Wikimedia Commons

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/5/2012 · Groton Place and Sabine Woods, Groton, MA
≈ 4½ × 5" (11 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/5/2012 · Groton Place and Sabine Woods, Groton, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (22 × 14 cm) ID is uncertain

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/6/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 14 × 9" (35 × 23 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/6/2010 · Nashua River Rail Trail, Groton, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm)

Circaea lutetiana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 16 Aug 2013.

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Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/17/2010 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/17/2010 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/23/2013 · Andres Institute of Art, Big Bear Mountain, Brookline, NH
≈ 8 × 6" (20 × 14 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (19 × 13 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/17/2010 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

7/17/2010 · Stan and Connie’s, Falmouth, ME
≈ 3 × 4½" (7.9 × 11 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Circaea lutetiana (Enchanter’s Nightshade)

8/2/2012 · Nashua River Rail Trail, near Nashoba Hospital, Ayer, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Range:

About this map...