|Enchanter's Nightshade Flora von Deutschland, Österreich und der Schweiz 1885|
The genus name comes from the enchantress Circe of Greek mythology and the generic designation is derived from Lutetia, the Latin name for Paris. Paris at one time was known as the "Witch City". Despite its name it is not especially toxic, but contains a lot of the astringent tannin.
Circaea lutetiana is a perennial herbaceous plant with opposite, simple leaves, on slender, green stems. The flowers are white, borne in summer. It grows 20 cm to 60 cm, rarely up to 75 centimeters high.
The flower has 2 notched petals, 2 stamens and a 2-lobed stigma. The open flowers are well spaced along the stalk and there are no bracts at base of individual flower stalks. The fruit consists of 2 equal cells, and usually sets seed. The flower stalks become angled downwards before fruiting.
In winter the aerial parts die off leaving an underground rhizome.
The plant is native to Europe, Middle Asia and Siberia. They grow in woods in deep shade and moist environments on nitrogen-containing clay.
It is only rarely used as a garden plant, one variety is known as 'Caveat Emptor', has leaves that are heavily mottled pink.
Circaea lutetiana herb has been used in the traditional Austrian medicine internally as tea, or externally as cold maceration in ethanol, for treatment of rheumatism, gout, infections, and fever.
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