Withania somnifera, Physalis somnifera,
Common Winter-cherry, Sleepy nightshade, Ashwagandha,
Hebrew: ויתניה משכרת, Arabic: العبعب المنوم, Egypt: سم الفراخ "Simm Frakh"

Scientific name:  Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal
Synonym name:  Physalis somnifera L.
Common name:  Common Winter-cherry, Sleepy nightshade, Ashwagandha
Hebrew name:  ויתניה משכרת
Arabic name:   العبعب المنوم
Egypt:  سم الفراخ "Simm Frakh"
Plant Family:  Solanaceae, סולניים

Israel native plants, Withania somnifera, Physalis somnifera, Common Winter-cherry, Sleepy nightshade,سم الفراخ ,ויתניה משכרת

Life form:  Chamaephyte
Stems:  30-150 cm tall, pubescent with dendritic hairs; woody proximally, erect or reclining, branched, tomentose
Leaves:  Alternate; ovate, obovate, or oblong; entire, dentate or serrate
Flowers:  Corolla bell-shaped with 3-6 yellow-green lobes; yellow petals on the inside but with a green outer-covering layer
Fruits / pods:  Berry, shiny, red, globose, 5-8 mm, in papery protective covering (calyx)
Flowering Period:  Summer
Habitat:  Rich soils, ruderal
Distribution:  The Mediterranean Woodlands and Shrublands, Semi-steppe shrublands, Shrub-steppes, Deserts and extreme deserts
Phytogeo:  Med - Irano-Turanian
Summer shedding:  Perennating

Native plants of Palestine

Derivation of the botanical name:
Withania for withanine, the main constituents of this plant.
somnifera, somnifer, sleep bringing ; meaning sleep inducing. The name ashwagandha (one of the common names for this herb) comes from the sanskrit meaning "horse-like-smell". Apparently, this name not only refers to the smell of the herb but also its strengthening and aphrodisiac qualities. It is sometimes called “Indian Ginseng”.
The Hebrew name: ויתניה, withania, the foreign name transliterated to Hebrew.
  • The standard author abbreviation L. is used to indicate Carl Linnaeus (1707 – 1778), a Swedish botanist, physician, and zoologist, the father of modern taxonomy.
  • The standard author abbreviation Dunal is used to indicate Michel Felix Dunal (1789 – 1856), a French botanist. He was professor of botany in Montpellier, France.
The roots and berries of the plant are used in herbal medicine.
  • Boulos, Loutfy (1932 - 2015) and M. Nabil el-Hadidi (1934 - 2003), 1984 The Weed Flora of Egypt. p.155:
    'Plant narcotic, anti-epileptic, used for stomachache, ulcers, colds; roots for the treatment of rheumatic pains, calmative; leaves and fruits rebrifuge, diuretic, antirheumatic; seeds toxic, emetic, anesthetic.'
  • Veena Sharma et al, Banasthali University, Banasthali- 304022, India/International Journal of PharmTech Research, Vol. 3, No.1, pp 187-192,Jan-Mar 2011:
    'Withania somnifera: A Rejuvenating Ayurvedic Medicinal Herb for the Treatment of various Human ailments.
    In Ayurveda, Withania somnifera, Ashwagandha is considered as a rasayana* herb, which works on a nonspecific basis to increase health and longevity. Withania somnifera has been in use for over 2500 years to treat all kind of diseases and human ailments.'
    'Withania somnifera possess good immunomodulatory anti-inflammatory, antitumor, antioxidant, anticancer properties and many pharmacologically and medicinally important chemicals, such as Withaferins, sitoindosides and various alkaloids, they protect the cells from oxidative damage and diseases.'

  • *rasayana, a term that in early ayurvedic medicine means the science of lengthening lifespan.

    Withania somnifera, Physalis somnifera, Common Winter-cherry, Sleepy nightshade, سم الفراخ ,ויתניה משכרת, Ashwagandha, Indian ginseng
    Location: Maagan Kibbutz Holiday Village - Sea of Galilee