The idea of Skirrets being confounded with this plant, is, I think, erroneous, if it has leaves on, as they are not pinnated, and very different from it. When the Hyoscyamus is in bloom, it has curiously-formed flowers of an uncommonly disgusting hue. The scent of this plant, on bruising it, and its general appearance, render it almost impossible that any one should mistake it. The roots, in the winter season, when destitute of leaves, may, however, be mistaken for those of Parsnep, Parsley, Skirret, and many others of similar shape, and of which it is out of our power to give a distinguishing character.
636. Lactuca virosa. Strong-scented wild lettuce.—The juice of this plant is a very powerful opiate, and care should be taken how it is made use of. I have not heard of any dangerous effects having been produced by it. The strong and disagreeable scent and bitter nauseous taste will most likely always operate as a preservative to its being used for food; and as a medicine, it is hoped its use will be confined to the judicious hand of a medical botanist.
All the kinds of garden lettuce; but it may be distinguished by its spines on the back of the leaves. It may be remarked, that the milky juice of all lettuce has similar properties to the above; but the juice is not milky till such time as the plant produces seed-stalks, and then the taste in general is too nauseous for it to be eaten.
637. Solanum Dulcamara. Bittersweet.—The berries of this plant have been sometimes eaten by children, and have produced very alarming effects. It is common in hedges, and should be at all times as much extirpated as possible.
638. Solanum nigrum. Deadly nightshade.—Webfer has given us an account of some children that were killed in consequence of having eaten the berries of this plant for black currants. And others have spoken of the direful effects of the whole plant so much, that, from the incontestable proofs of its deleterious qualities, persons cannot be too nice in selecting their pot-herbs, particularly those who make a practice of gathering from dunghills and gardens Fat-Hen, &c. as there is some distant similitude betwixt these plants, and their places of growth are the same.—Curtis’s Fl. Lond. fasc. 2.
All the Chenopodia grow with this plant wild, and are somewhat alike in appearance; but the Solanum may at all times be distinguished by its disagreeable strong scent.
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These come near to the Stupefying Poisons; but they are not treated in the same manner; for ether, wine, or acids combined with spirits, appear the properest things to destroy their deleterious properties: spices are then indicated, except for savine, which requires instead thereof acids.