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BRIEF: Is the Royal Robe Potato Bush poisonous?


QUESTION:
I recently purchased two Lycianthus Rantonnei (Royal Robe Potato Bush) which produce small purple flowers. I have been told by the botany dept at Arizona State University that the stems and leaves are poisonous. However, the poison control center and the nursery from which I bought them can find no information on their toxicity. Would you please give me some insight on this particular plant?

ANSWER:

Another name for this is Paraguay Nightshade, which might give you a hint as to possible problems. I have no direct experience or knowledge of this plant's toxicity, but it is extremely likely that this member of the nightshade/tomato/potato family harbors either one of the tropane alkaloids (such as the hyoscyamine of deadly nightshade) or steroid glycoalkaloids (such as the solanine of green potatoes) or both. I sure wouldn't try eating it...