Black henbane

Identification & Biology
Alias' : Hogbean, Hogbane, Stinking Nightshade, Black Henbane, Henbane, Insane Root
Latin Name : Hyoscyamus niger
Category : Terrestrial Plants
Description :
  • Annual or biennial 
  • Thick, fleshy taproot  
  • Stem is hairy and 0.5 to 2 meters tall 
  • Leaves are up to 20 cm long, grayish green, heavily scented and covered in fine, sticky hairs 
  • Forms a rosette in its first year 
  • Flowers are pale yellow-green, with purple veins and a purple throat
  • Seeds are pineapple-shaped and black-brown in color 


Black henbane is a member of the nightshade family, commonly known as “stinking nightshade”. The plant is easily identified by its signature flowers that bloom from May to September. Black henbane reproduces primarily by seed; one plant can produce 10,000 – 500,000 seeds that can be viable for up to 5 years. Black henbane was originally cultivated for its medicinal qualities. It is on the provincial prohibited list of plants that pose a significant threat to the environment, economy and/or human health. 


Black henbane is native to Eurasia and was introduced to North America in the 17th century as an ornamental and medicinal plant. Black henbane can be found in disturbed open sites, roadsides, rangeland, pastures and waste areas. It is primarily found in sandy or well drained loam soils with moderate fertility. It does not tolerate water logged soils. In British Columbia, black henbane is limited in distribution. There are confirmed sightings in the Okanagan-Similkameen, Cariboo, Thompson-Nicola and East Kootenay regions

Impact & Risks
  • Outcompetes native vegetation and desirable forage species. 
  • Reduces plant biodiversity. 
  • Contains toxic alkaloids that are poisonous to humans and animals if ingested. Symptoms of poisoning include impaired vision, convulsions, coma, and death from heart or respiratory failure. Livestock will usually avoid black henbane because of its foul odour, unless other forage is unavailable.  
Prevention & Mitigation

Black henbane is a Provincially Prohibited Species and sightings should be reported via the BC Report Invasives phone app or online. For more information, go to:

 The most effective way to ensure that your lands do not become infested with black henbane is by prevention. Here are some recommendations to prevent invasion on your property: 

  • Maintain your crops and natural lands in a healthy, vigorous condition to ensure a competitive plant community; competitive perennial grasses and forbs utilize water and nutrients that would otherwise be readily available to black henbane. 
  • Regularly patrol your property for black henbane plants and immediately control or remove infestations before seed set.  
  • Immediately re-vegetate disturbed, bare soils with a suitable seed mixture that provides dense, early colonization to prevent weed invasion.  
  • Ensure soil, gravel and fill material are not contaminated. Do not move contaminated soils to a new area.  
  • Avoid unloading, parking, or storing equipment and vehicles in infested areas.  
Treatment & Disposal
  • Mowing is effective but can be difficult because of the thick, tough stem.  
  • Hand-pulling or digging can be done for small infestations or individual plants prior to seed production. Pulling when the soil is moist improves the chance of removing the entire root. Be sure to wear gloves and protective clothing to prevent skin irritation from this plant. 
  • Grazing is not an option as black henbane is toxic if ingested by livestock. 
  • All removed plant parts should be bagged and disposed of at the landfill.  
  • Chemical control is also an option. Before applying herbicides, read the label for full use and precautionary instructions.  
  • For further information on the selection and application of chemicals to protect your crop, contact AgriService BC at 1-888-221-7141 or email  
  • There are currently no biocontrol agents (natural insect enemies) available for use in B.C.  
Okanagan Distribution

Priority Level Definitions

Watch For - Poses a significant threat (very high risk) and does NOT presently occur in the region OR is relatively new to the region and is very limited in extent.
High - High risk/impact; limited population with significant potential to spread in the region.
Medium - Medium risk/impact; limited distribution – broader population distribution with potential to spread further in a region.
Low - Low risk/impact; may be widespread or not, may be of concern in specific situations with certain high values – e.g. specific agriculture crops. Some species may be treated primarily with biological control agents.