Weed of the Month – September 2015


(Solanum nigrum)


(Photos: E. Cousins, plant, cluster of young fruit)

Known by many other names such as black nightshade, this erect, bushy weed is well-known to many of us, because it spreads so easily on roadsides, waste ground, cracked footpaths etc. It is native to a band of countries from Morocco to India. Don’t confuse this weed with deadly nightshade (Altropa belladonna). Blackberry nightshade has pendant clusters of white flowers (with a hint of purple) and slightly hairy leaves. The flowers of deadly nightshade are individual. Leaves are a dull green, also with a purplish tinge. The fruit are dull green when young (see photo), but darken to a dull purple later. See the way the 5 little sepals (leaf like tissue surrounding the flower) sit apart on the top of the fruit? This helps distinguish this solanum from others.