Growing Night Phlox Plants: Information On Night Phlox Care
Night phlox is one of the most popular and widely used nightshade vegetables. It grows wild in many parts of Europe, Asia, Africa and America.
Its leaves are dark green with white veins and its flowers are pinkish red or purplish purple with white spots at their tips. They have long stems and grow up to 1 m tall.
The plant belongs to the family Solanaceae, which includes tomatoes, eggplant, peppers and potatoes. It was first cultivated in China around 700 BC.
Since then it has been grown all over the world including North America where it became common during the colonial period (1775–1865). In Britain it was introduced into England in 1774 by John Evelyn who called them “the vegetable of kings”. By 1885 there were over 100 varieties of nightshade in cultivation.
In the United States, nightshades were banned from being grown commercially until the early 1900s when they began to be grown again after World War II. They had become rare in Europe before that time due to European Union agricultural restrictions.
During the 1800s, nightshade plants were used as food additives and medicines such as nightcap and strychnine. As recently as the 1950s, farmers grew them in their gardens.
The plants are prone to several diseases and pests including viruses, bacteria and nematodes. They can also be affected by certain types of fungi such as Alternaria and Colletotrichum species.
Common nightshade plants can be attacked by over 20 different kinds of insects including aphids, cutworms, leaf hoppers, squash bugs, raccoons, deer, slugs and snails.
Despite these challenges, the flowers are edible and can be added to salads or cooked like a vegetable. Its leaves can be eaten as well.
They have a slightly bitter taste and so are usually mixed with other vegetables such as potatoes or eggs when cooking them. They contain vitamins A and C and flavonoids. They are also high in potassium and low in calories. Their flowers are edible as well and can be used to make a yellow dye. The extract of the leaves can be used as a mosquito repellent.
The plant has a long history of use as a medicinal plant. It has been used to treat people for all kinds of conditions such as liver problems, whooping cough, meningitis, paralysis, rheumatism and parasitic intestinal diseases.
In large enough doses it can be lethal, hence its other name, “deadly nightshade”. The berries in particular are poisonous, and can cause delirium, convulsions and eventually death. It has also been used as a poison and was said to be one of the poisons used for the poisoning of Julius Caesar.
Its leaves can be made into a herbal tea that is high in antioxidants. When consumed in large quantities its berries can cause diarrhea, decreased heart rate, confusion, dilated pupils, tremors, loss of consciousness and even death.
It contains the alkaloid nicotine, which is also found in tobacco.
The name belladonna comes from Italian and means “beautiful lady”. It is can be used to make medicine to dilate pupils and so it was once given to women to make their pupils look bigger.
It has also been used as a painkiller, although it can cause death when overused.
The plant has been used in magic rituals by witches and sorcerers. It has been used in flying ointments and in the past was thought to be able to give people magical powers such as the ability to fly.
In many countries it was also used in love potions. The plant was commonly used by women in the Victorian era to dilate their pupils, making them appear more seductive. Such women were called “belladonna addicts”.
The name nightshade comes from the fact that it closes its leaves during the day and opens them at night. It was believed in the past that witches gathered in nightshade plants to hold their meetings.
Sources & references used in this article:
Flowering of Phlox paniculata Is Influenced by Photoperiod and Cold by ES Runkle, RD Heins, AC Cameron – HortScience, 1998 – academia.edu
Planning & Planting a Moon Garden: Storey’s Country Wisdom Bulletin A-234 by T DiSabato-Aust – 2006 – Timber Press
The role of native cultivars in the ecological landscape: evaluating insect preferences and nectar quality in phlox and its cultivars by M Shaffer – 2001 – books.google.com
Fitness consequences of short‐ and long‐distance pollinations in Phlox hirsuta, an endangered species by K Nevison – … . ecolandscaping. org/01/native-plants/the-role-of …, 2016 – ecolandscaping.org
Effects of polyploidy on photosynthetic properties and anatomy in leaves of Phlox drummondii by LG Ruane, ME Dickens, ME Wall – American journal of botany, 2015 – Wiley Online Library