Scopolamine is a bitter-tasting alkaloid with hallucinogenic properties. Its presence in all parts of the Henbane plant deters grazers.
Scopolamine does have medicinal uses in small doses, in the treatment of nausea and motion sickness, intestinal cramping and some ophthalmic conditions.
It has reputedly been used as a truth drug and in 1910, was detected in the remains of Cora Crippen, the wife of Dr Crippen and was believed to be the cause of her death.
Henbane is extremely toxic but, in 2008, celebrity chef Antony Worrall Thompson mistakenly suggested its use in salads, confusing it with another plant, Fat hen.
Henbane does, however, belong to the Solanaceae family, one of the world's most important food families that includes potato, bell pepper, tomato and aubergine. We grow the poisonous members of Solanaceae within a protective ring of more palatable members every year on the Systematic Beds.