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White henbane flower grown in my upstate NY garden 2014Hyoscyamus albus
White Henbane

This year I grew enough white henbane to have a good seed harvest. I really like this henbane because of its very fuzzy leaves and creamy flowers (which sometimes have purple in the very center). It is smaller than black henbane and more refined in appearance. Likewise, white henbane is supposedly milder than black henbane and at one time was the type of henbane grown in Europe for medicinal use. It originates from the area around the Mediterranean, whereas black henbane is from further East and North, so it's a good choice if your are working magical paths from, say, Italy or Crete. Some consider that it was the seeds of this species of henbane that were smoked by the Oracle of Delphi. In humoral medicine, white henbane was considered cold in the third degree, and yellow (Hyoscyamus aureus) and black henbane (Hyoscyamus niger) were thought to be colder and therefore noxious to human health. This magic herb is also known as Russian henbane, flower of death, and Hyoscyamus varians. Some sources identify this with Hyoscyamus muticus (Egyptian henbane), but that plant has purple flowers and is much much stronger in alkaloids. It is also sometimes called yellow henbane, but that was the name given to Nicotiana rustica in Europe when it was first discovered in the New World. Henbane is traditionally associated with Hekate and hex work.

White henbane pods growing in my upstate NY garden 2014How to grow white henbane: Put seeds in water and store in fridge for two weeks, changing water daily (this leaches out anti-germination chemicals). Then sow to germinate in 9 days at room temperature. You can also cold stratify by folding them into a paper towel that has been wet and wrung out; put that in a baggie, and put in fridge for two weeks. Then sow. Be careful not to overwater, because this plant is prone to damping off (suddenly dying from fungus). White henbane tends to be smaller than black henbane and seems to do fine in a pot. Transplant when they get two inches tall to a sunny, sandy, alkaline soil (although I have grown this in acidic soil and it did fine). You can crowd them into clumps, because they get a fibrous root rather than spreading out horizontally. Water when the soil is dry, but give a bit more water when they are flowering. This baneful herb likes compost side dressing (just put some in a ring at the drip line of the plant) and foliar fertilizer (spray organic fertilizer like fish emulsion on the undersides of the leaves in the early morning). Grows 1-2ft/40-50cm tall. These seeds are annual, although henbane can be an annual or a biennial, depending on the particular seed. If it is in a pot, this plant will wilt in heat. Watch out for aphids with this one.  Check under the leaves periodically for tiny white or green bugs.  Use Safer Insecticidal Soap to get rid of them. Slugs and snails also savor the leaves; check for them under pots during the daytime. An annual or biennial (can take two years to flower) depending on when the parent plant produces seeds. It does not like soggy soil. This herb is called "White Henbane" because the flowers are paler than black henbane and they do not have the fly-wing veining of black henbane, although they do sometimes have purple centers. General growing info


Hyoscyamus albus
White Henbane
50 seeds $4.25

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Get some henbane herb

Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:
Honoring Hekate
Baneful Work
Rain Magick
Death Work
Saturn Herb

Witch's Garden Herb

2015, 2016 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission