Skip to main content Accessibility help

Reproductive Strategy, Performance, and Population Dynamics of the Introduced Weed Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

  • Christa E. Fettig (a1) and Ruth A. Hufbauer (a1)


Determining whether and how to manage an introduced species requires basic ecological and biological knowledge. If a decision is made to actively manage an invader, doing so efficiently and effectively is critical. Basic biological or ecological information can be key in designing effective and cost-efficient management approaches. We used a greenhouse experiment and observational field studies of naturalized populations to study the modes of pollination, fecundity in the field, seed ecology, population dynamics, and demography of the introduced and toxic weed, black henbane. We showed that henbane was able to self-pollinate. Furthermore, outcrossing did not increase number or size of seeds. Plants in the sampled populations produced an estimated average of 25,300±4,004 seeds by the middle of the growing season. We found no difference in the viability of field-collected seeds that were 1 to 4 yr old. The number of flowering plants in a population was best predicted by the number of rosettes at that location in July of the previous year. The probability of rosettes surviving over the winter to reach reproductive maturity increased with precipitation and growing degree days. Total population sizes fluctuated dramatically between years. Henbane populations are ephemeral, but with large seed banks, outbreaks are possible if conditions are right. Given that this weed is toxic to livestock and humans, it is important to identify infestations and manage populations.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Reproductive Strategy, Performance, and Population Dynamics of the Introduced Weed Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
      Available formats

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Reproductive Strategy, Performance, and Population Dynamics of the Introduced Weed Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
      Available formats

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Reproductive Strategy, Performance, and Population Dynamics of the Introduced Weed Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
      Available formats


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author’s E-mail:


Hide All

Associate Editor for this paper: J. Anita Dille, Kansas State University.



Hide All
Abela-Hofbauerová, I, Münzbergová, Z (2011) Increased performance of Cirsium arvense from the invasive range. Flora 12:10121019
Baker, HG (1967) Support for Baker’s law—as a rule. Evolution 21:853856
Beasley, V (1999) Toxicants that affect the autonomic nervous system (and, in some cases, voluntary nerves as well). Pages 8–9 in Beasley V, ed. Veterinary Toxicology. New York: International Veterinary Information Service
Biswas, K (1956). Common Medicinal Plants of Darjeeling and Sikkim Himalaya. West Bengal, Calcutta: Bengal Government Press. P 71
Blumenthal, DM, Hufbauer, RA (2007) Increased plant size in exotic populations: a common-garden test with 14 invasive species. Ecology 11:27582765
Brown, JS, Eckert, CG (2005) Evolutionary increase in sexual and clonal reproductive capacity during biological invasion in an aquatic plant Butomus umbellatus (Butomaceae). Am J Bot 3:495502
Capinera, JL (2014). Giant African land snail in Florida. Gainesville, FL: University of Florida IFAS extension document ENY-512 (IN904). Accessed: March 4, 2016
Cirak, C, Kevseroglu, K, Saglam, B (2004) Physical and physiological dormancy in black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger L.) seeds. J Plant Biol 4:391395
Cooper, MR, Johnson, AW (1984). Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office. 305 p
Correns, C (1904) Eintypischerspaltender Bastard zwischeneinereinjährigen und einerzweijährigen Sippe des Hyoscyamus niger . Berichte der Deutschen Botanischen Gesellschaft 22:517524
Couch, JF (1937) The chemistry of stock-poisoning plants. J Chem Educ 1:1630
Dlugosch, K, Parker, I (2008) Founding events in species invasions: genetic variation, adaptive evolution, and the role of multiple introductions. Mol Ecol 1:431449
Doneray, H, Orbak, Z, Karakelleoglu, C (2007) Clinical outcomes in children with hyoscyamus niger intoxication not receiving physostigmine therapy. Eur J Emerg Med 6:348350
Fettig, C, Hufbauer, R (2014) Introduced North American black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) populations are biennial. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 4:624630
Flory, SL, Long, F, Clay, K (2011) Greater performance of introduced vs. native range populations of Microstegium vimineum across different light environments. Basic Appl Ecol 4:350359
Fukano, Y, Yahara, T (2012) Changes in defense of an alien plant Ambrosia artemisiifolia before and after the invasion of a native specialist enemy Ophraella communa . PLoS ONE 7:e49114
Gross, KL (1981) Predictions of fate from rosette size in four “biennial” plant species: Verbascum thapsus, Oenothera biennis, Daucus carota, and Tragopogon dubius . Oecologia 2:209213
Häkkinen, ST, Moyano, E, Cusidó, RM, Palazón, J, Piñol, MT, Oksman-Caldentey, KM (2005) Enhanced secretion of tropane alkaloids in Nicotiana tabacum hairy roots expressing heterologous hyoscyamine-6β-hydroxylase. J Exp Bot 420:26112618
Harris, CJ, Dormontt, EE, Le Roux, JJ, Lowe, A, Leishman, MR (2012) No consistent association between changes in genetic diversity and adaptive responses of Australian acacias in novel ranges. Evol Ecol 6:13451360
Hodgins, KA, Rieseberg, L (2011) Genetic differentiation in life‐history traits of introduced and native common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia) populations. J Evol Biol 12:27312749
Huang, W, Carrillo, J, Ding, J, Siemann, E (2012) Interactive effects of herbivory and competition intensity determine invasive plant performance. Oecologia 2:373382
Husain, A, Singh, P, Singh, A (1979) Introduction of a high alkaloid strain of Hyoscyamus muticus in India. Indian J Pharm Sci 41:4648
Igic, B, Bohs, L, Kohn, JR (2004) Historical inferences from the self-incompatibility locus. New Phytol 1:97105
Igic, B, Bohs, L, Kohn, JR (2006) Ancient polymorphism reveals unidirectional breeding system shifts. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 5:13591363
Igic, B, Lande, R, Kohn, JR (2008) Loss of self‐incompatibility and its evolutionary consequences. Int J Plant Sci 1:93104
Keller, S, Taylor, D (2010) Genomic admixture increases fitness during a biological invasion. J Evol Biol 8:17201731
Klemow, KM, Raynal, DJ (1985) Demography of two facultative biennial plant species in an unproductive habitat. J Ecol 1:147167
Knight, AP, Walter, RG (2003) Plants affecting the digestive system. Page 367 in Knight AP & Walter RG eds, A Guide to Plant Poisoning of Animals in North America. Jackson, WY: Teton New-Media
Kurkcuoglu, M (1970) Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) poisonings in the vicinity of Erzurum. Turk J Pediatr 1:4856
LaFantasie, JJ, Enloe, SF (2011) Competitive ability of black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) when grown with three native grasses. Invasive Plant Sci Manag 4:159165
Lande, R, Schemske, DW (1985) The evolution of self-fertilization and inbreeding depression in plants. I. Genetic models. Evolution 1:2440
Lavergne, S, Molofsky, J (2007) Increased genetic variation and evolutionary potential drive the success of an invasive grass. Proc Natl Acad Sci 10:38833888
Lewis, KC, Bazzaz, FA, Liao, Q, Orians, CM (2006) Geographic patterns of herbivory and resource allocation to defense, growth, and reproduction in an invasive biennial, Alliaria petiolata . Oecologia 148:384395
Lindequist, U (1993). Pages 460474 in Lindequist U ed, Hagers Handbuch der pharmazeutischen Praxis, 5th edn. Berlin: Springer
Long, HC (1924). Plants Poisonous to Livestock. London: Cambridge University Press. 51 p
Ma, CY, Williams, ID, Che, CT (1999) Withanolides from Hyoscyamus niger seeds. J Nat Prod 10:14451447
Mack, MC, D’Antonio, CM (1998) Impacts of biological invasions on disturbance regimes. Trends Ecol Evol 5:195198
Miller, JS, Levin, RA, Feliciano, NM (2008) A tale of two continents: Baker’s rule and the maintenance of self-incompatibility in Lycium (Solanaceae). Evolution 5:10521065
Pimentel, D, Lach, L, Zuniga, R, Morrison, D (2000) Environmental and economic costs associated with non-indigenous species in the United States. BioScience 1:5365
Pimentel, D, Zuniga, R, Morrison, D (2005) Update on the environmental and economic costs associated with alien-invasive species in the United States. Ecol Econ 3:273288
Radosevich, S, Holt, J, Ghersa, C (2007). Weed Ecology Implications for Management. New York: Wiley. Pp 149158
Randall, R (2001) Eradication of a deliberately introduced plant found to be invasive. Page 174 in Wittenberg R & Cock MW eds, Invasive Alien Species Toolkit of Best Prevention and Management Practices. Wallingford, Oxon, UK: CAB International
Rätsch, C (1995). Heilkräuter der Antike in Ägypten, Griechenland und Rom. Mythologie und Anwendungeinst und heute. Munich: Diederichs. 419 p (Diederichsgelbe Reihe 115)
Redman, RS, Kim, YO, Woodward, CJDA, Greer, C, Espino, L, Doty, SL, Rodriguez, RJ (2011) Increased fitness of rice plants to abiotic stress via habitat adapted symbiosis: a strategy for mitigating impacts of climate change. PLoS ONE 6:e14823
Richman, AD, Kohn, JR (2000) Evolutionary genetics of self-incompatibility in the Solanaceae. Plant Mol Biol 42:169179
Rogers, WE, Siemann, E (2005) Herbivory tolerance and compensatory differences in native and invasive ecotypes of Chinese tallow tree (Sapium sebiferum). Plant Ecol 181:5768
Rowell, M (1978) Russian medical botany before the time of Peter the Great. Sudhoffs Archiv 62:339358
Salisbury, EJ (1942). The reproductive capacity of plants. London: Bell. Pp 133136
Sands, JM, Sands, R (1976) Henbane chewing. Med J Aust 2:5558
Selleck, GW (1964) Ecology of black henbane in Saskatchewan. Weeds 12:148150
Sharma, RK, Sharma, S, Sharma, SS (2006) Seed germination behavior of some medicinal plants of Lahaul and Spiti cold desert (Himachal Pradesh): implications for conservation and cultivation. Curr Sci 8:11131118
Simberloff, D (2003) How much information on population biology is needed to manage introduced species? Conserv Biol 1:8392
Spoerke, DG, Hall, AH, Dodson, CD, Stermitz, FR, Swanson, CH, Rumack, BH (1987) Mystery root ingestion. J Emerg Med 5:385388
Smith, SD, Huxman, TE, Zitzer, SF, Charlet, TN, Housman, DC, Coleman, JS, Fenstermaker, LK, Seemann, JR, Nowak, RS (2000) Elevated CO2 increases productivity and invasive species success in an arid ecosystem. Nature 408:7982
Stebbins, GL (1957) Self fertilization and population variability in the higher plants. Am Nat 91:337354
Stebbins, GL (1974). Flowering Plants. Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press
Steinbachs, JE, Holsinger, KE (2002) S-RNase–mediated gametophytic self-incompatibility is ancestral in Eudicots. Mol Biol Evol 6:825829
Suzuki, RO, Kudoh, H, Kachi, N (2003) Spatial and temporal variations in mortality of the biennial plant, Lysimachia rubida: effects of intraspecific competition and environmental heterogeneity. J Ecol 1:114125
[USDA] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2015). The PLANTS Database. Greensboro, NC: National Plant Data Team, National Resources Conservation Service. Accessed: April 26, 2015
[USDA] U.S. Department of Agriculture. (2016). BLM National List of Invasive Weed Species of Concern. Beltsville, MD: National Invasive Species Information Center. Accessed: June 3, 2016
Whitson, TD, Burrill, LC, Dewey, SA, Cudney, DW, Nelson, BE, Lee, RD, Parker, R (2004). Weeds of the West (9th edn, Newark, CA: Western Society of Weed Science, the Western United States Land Grant Universities Cooperative Extension Services, and the University of Wyoming, Jackson, WY. 628 p
Wilcove, DS, Rothstein, D, Dubow, J, Phillips, A, Losos, E (1998) Quantifying threats to imperiled species in the United States. BioScience 48:607615
Wolfe, LM, Elzinga, JA, Biere, A (2004) Increased susceptibility to enemies following introduction in the invasive plant Silene latifolia . Ecol Lett 9:813820
Wookey, PA, Parsons, AN, Welker, JM, Potter, JA, Callaghan, TV, Lee, JA, Press, MC (1993) Comparative responses of phenology and reproductive development to simulated environmental change in sub-arctic and high arctic plants. Oikos 67:490502
Yang, AF, Hamilton, RI (1974) The mechanism of seed transmission of tobacco ringspot virus in soybean. Virology 62:2637
Zorner, PS, Zimdahl, RL, Schweizer, EE (1984) The effect of depth and duration of seed burial in kochia (Kochia scoparia). Weed Sci 32:602607


Reproductive Strategy, Performance, and Population Dynamics of the Introduced Weed Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)

  • Christa E. Fettig (a1) and Ruth A. Hufbauer (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed