Definition - What does Nightshade mean?
In botany, nightshades refer to trees, shrubs and herbs that belong to the family of capsicum and solanum plants. These plants normally have cymose flowers, alternate leaves and poisonous weeds. Commercially-available nightshades such as eggplants and potatoes are safe for consumption. Nightshade berries and leaves should not be consumed since they are fatally toxic.
MaximumYield explains Nightshade
The Atropa belladonna is known as being the deadliest nightshades. Because this plant looks harmless enough, it has caused several accidental deaths over the years. Atropa belladonnas can grow up to four feet high and display bell-shaped flowers. While this plant is toxic to humans, it is safely consumed by ruminant animals such as goats, sheep, cattle, horses and some types of rabbits. According to botanists, ten to twenty belladonna berries are enough to kill an adult.
Paradoxically, nightshades that are safe for human consumption- such as tomatoes- contain lycopene, a phytochemical that offers a variety of health benefits. Nightshades can be perennials or annuals and, in some cases, their stems and leaves are armed with prickles.