The root of this plant, Scopola carniolica, is now official and may be substituted for belladonna in the making of the mydriatic alkaloids. Although of recent introduction in scientific pharmacy, it has an interesting botanical record, reaching back to Matthioli (414), who named it Solanum somniferum alterum.
This historical record of the plant is made complete by that unexcelled authority, E. M. Holmes, of London, his paper being published in full in the Pharmaceutical Journal and Transactions, London, December 14, 1889, pp. 468-471. The name by which it is now recognized was given to the plant by Jacquin (388a) in honor of Dr. Johann Anton Scopoli, professor of botany in the University of Pavia, who (1760) published his discovery of the plant under the name Atropa caule herbaceo. (See Lloyd Brothers' Drug Treatise No. X for biographical sketch.) Many are the names since affixed to it, regarding which Mr. Holmes remarks as follows: "Jacquin's name has unfortunately been several times altered by succeeding botanists."
The historical treatise of Holmes was briefly condensed as follows by Professor Maisch:
"The Natural History of Scopola carniolica (Jacquin)" gives a complete history of the synonymy of this plant, commencing with Matthioli, who in 1563 named it Solatium somniferum alterum. It was further described in 1622 by Caspar Bauhin under the name of Solanum somniferum bacciferum; in 1651 by J. Bauhin as Solatium manicum, "quod secundo loco proponuimus;" in 1760 by J. A.. Scopoli, Professor of Botany at Pavia, as Atropa caule herbaceo foliis avails, integris, fructu capsulari; in 1764 by Jacquin as Scopola carniolica; in 1767 by Linnaeus as Hyoscyamus Scopolia; in 1794 by Moench as Scopola trichotoma; in the same year by Schultes as Scopolina atropoides; in 1821 by Link as Scopolia atropoides; and in 1837 by G. Don as Scopolia carniolica.
The generic name Scopolia had been applied in 1763 by Adanson for what is now Ricotia, Lin., Cruciferae in 1776 by Forster for what is now Griselinia, Porst., Cornaceae; in 1781 by Linnaeus fil., for what is now Daphne, Lin., Thymelaceae; in 1790 by Smith for what is now Toddalia, Juss., Rutaceae.
Jacquin's name for the plant being the first binomial one published after the date of the first edition of Linnaeus' Species Plantarum in 1753, should supersede the later names given by others. This author repeatedly writes "Scopola" (not Scopolia) in his published work.
This plant, possessing so much energy, was naturally known to the early herbalists, but was most cautiously employed by them. Wier (1515-1588) mentioned it (Maisch), but it was then forgotten until Dr. Lippich, of Padua (1834-7), used it instead of belladonna. The record shows that (410a) in Southern Europe (Martius, 1832) the leaves were used in the same way as belladonna. Kosteletzkv (1832) states (361a) that it has the narcotic qualities of hyoscyamus. Neither in domestic nor in professional medicine had scopolia any reputation worth mentioning until after 1880, when its alkaloidal record and its many complications as a sophisticant for belladonna made such an event in pharmacy and chemistry as to give the plant a position in the U. S. Pharmacopeia of 1900.