Atropa belladonna has many interactions with other organisms. Because belladonna is a plant it is at the bottom of the food web of the environment it lives in. Belladonna is a producer and other organisms that are primary consumers can consume the plant. An organism known as the "flea beetle" feeds on this plants leaves and the seedlings of the plant are extremely vulnerable to this beetle as well as other insects. Epitrix atropae  is the scientific name of this beetle. Some other insects that live in the environment with belladonna are the horsefly and mosquito. The relationship between this beetle and the belladonna plant is a predatory relationship. The flea beetle is the predator and feeds on the belladonna plant, which is the prey. This is surprising because the toxins are heavily concentrated in the leaves of the plant. Some other organisms that consume this plant without adverse effect include slugs, rabbits, and other grazing animals. A horse was found to eat a substantial amount of the plant with no adverse effects as well. Other grazing animals could include the common cow or the white tailed deer. Lower animals like pigs, goats, and sheep are also seen eating the plant without ill effects. Birds eat the seeds of the plant as well. Atropa belladonna also utilizes larger trees for shade. The plant needs a shady environment to grow in. This relationship would be known as a commensalism because the belladonna is provided with the shady environment it needs to grow in but the taller trees are not harmed or helped in any way by the belladonna plant.

To find out how Atropa belladonna gets nutrients and energy see the Nutrition page.

Humans interact with this plant as well. Children who come across the plant are very susceptible to the toxins. They see the dark berries, which happen to be sweet tasting, and want to eat the fruit. This is very dangerous given that the toxin is in all parts of the Atropa belladonna plant. Eating as little as two to five berries is enough to kill a child and ten to twenty berries is enough to kill an adult. Given that the toxin is most concentrated in the leaves, eating a single leaf could kill an adult human. Some of the symptoms of belladonna poisoning are vision impairment, flushed appearance, trouble swallowing, intense thirst, a burning sensation in the throat and stomach, fever, delirium, extreme hallucinations, laughing spells, convulsions, nausea, increased heart rate and extreme pupil dilation. These effects can be shown as little as thirty minutes after ingestion. The plant's poisons can also be absorbed through the skin of someone handling the plant. People who handle the plant are likely to get severe cases of dermatitis. Pets like dogs and cats are found to suffer horrible effects from the plant along with their human caretakers.

Humans also cultivate or grow this plant because it has medicinal uses. The alkaloid in the plant called atropine is used in various medications and is even used to dilate pupil when you go to the eye doctor for an eye exam. Extracts of belladonna are used in treating Parkinson's disease, psychiatric disorders, convulsions, epilepsy and whooping cough. Atropine is used to combat ingestion of insecticides as well. To learn more interesting things about belladonna see the Facts page.


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