Father found out about the Quidditch protest and took it as a sign I needed more useful ways to spend my time. As usual, this meant he sent me several books. One was a treatise on the history, cultivation, constituents, and uses of Deadly Nightshade, also known as Belladonna. I started out taking notes only because he'll expect a report, but it turns out this is rather interesting.
"The plant is not common in England, and has become rarer of late years. Although chiefly a native of the southern counties, being almost confined to calcareous soils, it has been sparingly found in twenty-eight British counties, mostly in waste places, quarries and near old ruins. In Scotland it is rare. Under the shade of trees, on wooded hills, on chalk or limestone, it will grow most luxuriantly, forming bushy plants several feet high, but specimens growing in places exposed to the sun are apt to be dwarfed, consequently it rarely attains such a large size when cultivated in the open, and is more subject to the attacks of insects than when growing wild under natural conditions. The cultivation of Belladonna in England dates at least from the sixteenth century. A man by the name of Gerard was the first English writer to adopt the Italian name."
I've seen it occasionally, but father made sure I never handled it personally. I remember being told stories as a little girl about how Belladonna is supposed to have been the plant that poisoned the troops of Marcus Antonius during the Parthian wars.
Belladonna is highly poisonous, but if you know what you are doing with it, it has non-lethal uses as well. Of course, I know some would argue it's lethal uses are very useful. I would not disagree.
Not everything is black and white.
It does seem to be rarer in England and Scotland these days, but I don't think it will ever truly vanish. I am not the only one who can imagine the benefits of this plant, and I am not the only one to be intrigued by it's deadly beauty.
Who can say if or when I will come across Belladonna next, but I am already more informed. One can never be too careful.
There's even more information in this treatise, but I feel like a reading break. Draco? Pansy? Blaise?