Quick facts

Common name: enchanter’s nightshade

Scientific name: Circaea lutetiana

Family: Willowherbs

Origin: native

Flowering season: June to September

Habitat: woodland, grassland, gardens

What does enchanter's nightshade look like?

Thought of as a weed in gardens, enchanter’s nightshade grows in sun-dappled woodland.

Leaves: opposite growing and oval in shape.

Flowers: very small (around 5mm), pinkish-white with two strongly notched petals. The stamens poke out of the flower.

Fruit/seeds: a one-seeded dry fruit – oval in shape. The fruit is covered in bristles with little hooks so they can attach themselves to passing animals and birds for dispersal.

Enchanter's nightshade fruit

Credit: Blickwinkel / Alamy Stock Photo

Where to find enchanter's nightshade

Look for enchanter’s nightshade in sun-dappled woodland, flowering between June and September.

Value to wildlife

Enchanter’s nightshade is a good browse plant for deer.

Mythology and symbolism

The Latin name Circaea relates to Circe, an enchantress sometimes depicted as the Greek goddess of magic, who was known for her knowledge of herbs.

Uses of enchanter's nightshade

Enchanter’s nightshade has been used treat wounds and as a flavouring in Austrian tea. In the Scottish Highlands it was thought to be an aphrodisiac. 

Did you know?

Despite its name, enchanter’s nightshade is unrelated to other nightshades. It actually belongs to the willowherb family.