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Deadly Nightshade - Katniss and Peeta's Poison Berries

Deadly Nightshade - Katniss and Peeta's Poison Berries Awesome Radio - Narrated Stories Geography Medicine Social Studies STEM Dystopia or Science Fiction

When the government announces that only one Tribute can win the 74th Hunger Games - meaning that either Katniss or Peeta must die - the Tributes from District 12 make a different plan. 

They will both eat poisonous berries, depriving The Capitol of a victorious Tribute.

What is the name of these berries?  Although they are called "Nightlock Berries" in the book and film, there is no such thing.  They are more likely "Deadly Nightshade" - Atropa Belladonna - extremely poisonous berries pictured above. 

Throughout history, the plant - one of the most toxic in the Western Hemisphere - has caused inadvertent death (because the berries look so attractive to the unwitting) and intentional murder (because the poison, in sufficient quantities, is likewise known to be lethal). 

If we examine its scientific name, we have "atropa" which is a derivative of the Greek word "atropos."  That means "to cut the thread of life." 

"Belladonna" means "beautiful lady," in Italian.  That is a reference to the way ancient women used sap from the Deadly Nightshade to dilate the pupils of their eyes (making them, in their judgment, more beautiful).

The berries are also dangerous because of how they look and taste:

The berries are full of a dark, inky juice and are intensely sweet, and their attraction to children on that account, has from their poisonous properties, been attended with fatal results.  (A Modern Herbal, by M.Grieve, page 584.)

The University of North Carolina tells us that Deadly Nightshade also grows in North Carolina.

Click on the image for a much better view.


Media Credits

Photo of Deadly Nightshade (Atropa Belladonna) by Amy Stewart, online via The Conservatory of Flowers.  Copyright, The Conservatory of Flowers, all rights reserved.  Image provided here as fair use for educational purposes.

 

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"Deadly Nightshade - Katniss and Peeta's Poison Berries" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jul 22, 2019.
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