Weed of the Month: Black Henbane


Black Henbane, otherwise known as Hogbean, Devil’s Eyes, and Stinking Nightshade, is an invasive plant that is also highly toxic. Its presence is widespread throughout the United States and here in Wyoming. This coarse and sticky plant can be most commonly found next to fence rows, bordering pastures, and along roadsides. It’s harmful to animals, humans, and the ecosystem as a whole.

Plant origins

Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) can be traced as far back as 4,000 B.C. to southern Europe and the Mediterranean. It was traditionally used as an herbal medicine, with seeds and roots that contain alkaloids such as Hyoscyamine, Atropine, Tropane, and Scopolamine. But accidental overdoses are common with this plant and it can also poison livestock. The word Henbane actually translates to “hen killer.”

Plant description

The flowery bloom of the Black Henbane might seem pleasant from June to September, but this noxious plant can wreak havoc. The leaves are hairy and sticky to touch, and its funnel-shaped flowers range from pale green or yellow to brownish-yellow in color, with purple veins. The stems are tough, thick, and fleshy with sticky hairs, and commonly emit a foul odor.

Tall Black Henbane plant in a field.


This plant can be found all over the U.S., particularly in the Northeast, Midwest, and across the West. It grows in a variety of conditions, thriving in sandy or well-drained soil. From grassy rangeland to riparian areas, the Black Henbane is versatile and destructive to native species and biodiversity.


Black Henbane doesn’t need a lot of water in order to spread, growing up to three feet in height. It’s a biennial plant and can produce anywhere from 10,000 to 500,000 seeds per plant. The seeds are about one millimeter in size and germinate easily. They can also lay dormant in the soil and stay viable for as long as five years.

Up close image of Black Henbane invasive plant flower.


Aside from its reputation of killing people, pets, and livestock, the Black Henbane is also extremely destructive to entire ecosystems. It commonly grows in dense groupings, overtaking native species and limiting biodiversity in a region. This plant’s ability to produce tens of thousands of seeds makes it especially noxious and difficult to get rid of.


In order to effectively manage the Black Henbane and prevent further proliferation, it’s important to limit the spread of seeds and destroy the plant. To get rid of Black Henbane and reduce the chance of new growth, it’s important to pull out and destroy the entire plant down to its roots. For small areas of spot removal, environmentally-safe herbicide can be used.

After removing Black Henbane, make sure to remove any seeds that might be attached to your clothing and/or gloves to prevent any further spread. If you see Black Henbane while out hiking, biking, or dog walking around your neighborhood, mark the location and report it to your local weed and pest control. Eradicating Black Henbane is crucial for maintaining a healthy ecosystem, and safeguarding our communities from a highly poisonous plant.