Atropa belladonna is well adapted to live in its environment in many ways. One adaptation is its height. Belladonna grows to approximately two or three feet. The short size of the organism is not surprising being that it grows in shady moist areas. If the plant were taller then it would be exposed to too much sunlight which attracts predators like the flea beetle and other insects. This would be detrimental to the plants survival. The plants flowers are another adaptation. The purple color of the flower can attract pollinators like certain insects as well as birds. Birds are also used in dispersal of the seeds of the plant. The sweet tasting berries that are eaten by the birds are yet another adaptation. Seeds are contained within the berries, therefore organisms that eat the berries will spread the plant in their excrement. Perhaps the most important adaptation of belladonna is the toxin it contains.

The main chemical element in Atropa belladonna is the alkaloid Atropine, which is given by the chemical formula:


Also found in the plant is Hyoscyomine, Belladonnine, and occasionally Atropamine. Atropine and Hyoscyomine are found in the greatest amounts in the plant. Atropine was first found in the plant in a crystalline form from the root of the plant. In large doses these chemicals act on the cerebrospinal system and produce symptoms like dilated pupils, vision impairment, hallucinations, fits of laughter and convulsions. The amount of alkaloids present in the plant depends on its growth conditions. Soil and weather both play a role in the percent of alkaloids found throughout the plant. The amount of alkaloids present in the dried leaves is about .3 to .7 percent.

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