Circaea lutetiana L.
My dog discovered enchanter’s nightshade for the first time when about a hundred of the tiny, velcro-covered fruits hitched a ride on her soft fur. It is native to North America, and favors moist, rich woods.
Enchanter’s nightshade 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 medicinal 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.
Plants: 12-24" (30-60 cm) high.
Leaves: Hairless, opposite, roughly oval, wider toward the bottom and sometimes heart-shaped (ovate-cordate), with small teeth along the margins (dentate). They are up to 5" (12 cm) × 3" (7.6 cm) in size.
Flowers: Tiny white to pinkish flowers ⅛-¼" (3.2-6.3 mm) in size appear sparsely along spikes up to 6" (15 cm) long. The flowers/burs are on short petioles about ⅛" (3.2 mm) long, alternate, and angled back along the stem, a unique identifying characteristic.
Fruits: Fuzzy teardrop-shaped two-chambered capsule, covered with hooked hairs. Fruits are ¹/₁₆-⅛" (2.8-4.5 mm) in size.
Circaea lutetiana at Illinois Wildflowers
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 at Minnesota Wildflowers
Circaea lutetiana description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 31 Jul 2019.