Herb: Shoo Fly

Latin name: Nicandra physaloides

Family: Solanaceae (Nightshade Family, Potato Family)

Medicinal use of Shoo Fly:

The plant is diuretic. There is no evidence to suggest that the plant is purgative, though an alkaloid with mydriatic action is present. The seeds are used in Tibetan medicine, they are said to have an acrid taste and a cooling, very poisonous potency. Analgesic, anthelmintic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and febrifuge, regular use increases bodily vigour. They are used in the treatment of contagious disorders, toothache, intestinal pain from worms and impotence. A decoction of the seeds is used in the treatment of fevers.

Description of the plant:


120 cm
(4 feet)

July to

Habitat of the herb:

Naturalized in waste places and near dwellings in much of N. America.

Edible parts of Shoo Fly:

Fruit. No more details are given. The fruit is a berry about 15mm in diameter. Young leaves - boiled. Some caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Other uses of the herb:

The plant is thought to repel flies.

Propagation of Shoo Fly:

Seed - sow in situ in late spring, preferably after the last expected frosts. Young seedlings can be transplanted. The seed can remain dormant for several decades.

Cultivation of the herb:

Naturalized in waste places and near dwellings in much of N. America.

Known hazards of Nicandra physaloides:

Although no mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a family that contains many species of poisonous plants so some caution is advised. It is normally the leaves and the unripe fruits that are most likely to be suspect, this family also includes many food plants such as potatoes, tomatoes, peppers etc.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.