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Solanum nigrum - L.

Common Name Black Nightshade, Common Nightshade, Poisonberry, Black Nightshade
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness Coming soon
Known Hazards There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not the leaves or fruit of this plant are poisonous. Views vary from relatively poisonous to perfectly safe to eat. The plant is cultivated as a food crop, both for its fruit and its leaves, in some parts of the world and it is probably true to say that toxicity can vary considerably according to where the plant is grown and the cultivar that is being grown[4, 7, 10, 13, 65, 76]. The unripe fruit contains the highest concentration of toxins[65].
Habitats Uncultivated and waste land[7]. It is a common garden weed.
Range Found throughout most of the world, including Britain.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential Yes
Medicinal Rating  
Care
Well drained soil Moist Soil Full sun
Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade, Common Nightshade, Poisonberry, Black Nightshade


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Solanum nigrum Black Nightshade, Common Nightshade, Poisonberry, Black Nightshade
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Summary

Bloom Color: White. Main Bloom Time: Early summer, Early fall, Late summer, Late spring, Mid summer. Form: Upright or erect.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Solanum nigrum is a ANNUAL growing to 0.6 m (2ft) by 0.3 m (1ft in). It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers dry or moist soil.

Synonyms

Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Fruit;  Leaves.
Edible Uses:

Fruit - cooked[2, 27, 89, 179]. Used in preserves, jams and pies[183]. A pleasant musky taste[85]. Somewhat like a tomato, but much less pleasant, it improves slightly after a frost[K]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be used, the unripe fruits contain the toxin solanine[65, 173, 183]. The fruit contains about 2.5% protein, 0.6% fat, 5.6% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash[179]. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter[200]. Young leaves and new shoots - raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups[2, 27, 85, 89, 173, 179, 183]. This plant is cultivated as a leaf crop in some areas, but see the notes at the top of the page regarding possible toxicity.

Composition
Figures in grams (g) or miligrams (mg) per 100g of food.
Leaves (Fresh weight)
  • 42 Calories per 100g
  • Water : 86.4%
  • Protein: 4g; Fat: 0.7g; Carbohydrate: 7.6g; Fibre: 1.6g; Ash: 1.7g;
  • Minerals - Calcium: 210mg; Phosphorus: 70mg; Iron: 5mg; Magnesium: 0mg; Sodium: 0mg; Potassium: 0mg; Zinc: 0mg;
  • Vitamins - A: 2000mg; Thiamine (B1): 0.15mg; Riboflavin (B2): 0.15mg; Niacin: 1.2mg; B6: 0mg; C: 43mg;
  • Reference: [ 218]
  • Notes: The figures given here are the median of a wide range given in the report.

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Antiperiodic;  Antiphlogistic;  Antipsoriatic;  Diaphoretic;  Diuretic;  Emollient;  Febrifuge;  Narcotic;  
Purgative;  Sedative.

The whole plant is antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, narcotic, purgative and sedative[4, 21, 145, 147, 192, 218]. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use[4]. Use with caution[21], see notes above on toxicity. The leaves, stems and roots are used externally as a poultice, wash etc in the treatment of cancerous sores, boils, leucoderma and wounds[218, 257]. Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator[218]. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches[7].

Other Uses

Soil reclamation.

This species has been found to be effective in removing PCB's from the soil and detoxifying them[248]. The plant is more effective in doing this if it is infected with the bacterial parasite Agrobacterium tumefaciens[248].

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils[1]. Dislikes shade[1]. Flowers are formed on the old wood[206]. Very tolerant of dry conditions[206]. Caterpillars and slugs are particularly fond of this plant and can totally destroy it[K]. Grows well with clover[18]. Does not grow well with wormwood or white mustard and, when these plants are growing close to S. nigra, they increase its content of toxic alkaloids[18]. Some forms of this plant are cultivated for their edible fruits or leaves[200], see notes about possible toxicity at the top of this page. The leaves of one form are sold in local markets in Greece[148]. Special Features:Not North American native, Naturalizing, All or parts of this plant are poisonous.

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in a greenhouse during the spring if required. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out in late spring.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Solanum aethiopicumMock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshade20
Solanum ajanhuiriAjanhuiri20
Solanum americanumAmerican Nightshade, American black nightshade10
Solanum andigenumAndigena20
Solanum aviculareKangaroo Apple, New Zealand nightshade22
Solanum boreale 10
Solanum boyacense 10
Solanum cari 10
Solanum carolinenseHorse Nettle, Carolina horsenettle02
Solanum chauchaChaucha10
Solanum curtilobumRucki20
Solanum dulcamaraBittersweet. Bittersweet Nightshade, Climbing nightshade, Bittersweet, Deadly Nightshade, Poisonous03
Solanum fendleriWild Potato, Fendler's horsenettle, Texan horsenettle32
Solanum jamesiiColorado Wild Potato, Wild potato20
Solanum juzepczukiiRucki20
Solanum kurzii 10
Solanum laciniatumKangaroo Apple22
Solanum linearifoliumMountain Kangaroo Apple20
Solanum liximitante 10
Solanum luteum 10
Solanum lycopersicumTomato, Garden Tomato53
Solanum lyratum 12
Solanum maglia 20
Solanum melongenaAubergine, Eggplant32
Solanum muricatumPepino40
Solanum paniculatumJurubeba, Nightshade04
Solanum phurejaPhureja, Nightshade30
Solanum piliferum 20
Solanum pimpinellifoliumCurrant Tomato42
12

 

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Expert comment

Author

L.

Botanical References

17200

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here

Readers comment

Miles Irving   Thu Apr 13 2006

Book about potential use of this Black Nightshade species

margie   Wed Jun 4 2008

i would like to know the use of solamargine and solasonine as principal constituents, the standard and quality control. thanks

   Sun Aug 16 2009

I used to eat these fruits years ago. They're pretty good and not poisonous when ripe.

Susan Holdsworth   Thu Aug 27 2009

Could you let me know if solanum nigrum is poisonous to pigs and other animals. I want to graze pigs in the area which I have cultivated and grown root crops but if is full of solanum nigrum. may thanks, Sue Holdsworth

david (volunteer)   Thu Aug 27 2009

According to "The Poisonous Plants of New Zealand" by H.E.Conner the ripe berries and plant are generally considered to be non-toxic unless fed to starved animals. The green berries contain the toxin solanine, there have been cases of poisoning in cattle and lambs (no specific mention of pigs)but many reports of grazing with no ill effect. It may accumulate toxic levels of nitrates, (no reports of this in New Zealand I don't know about elsewhere) Symptoms: staggers and delirium, peroidic convulsions, blindness, gastro-enteric: salivation, bleeding, diarrhoea. See also notes at top of this page.

Dr.K.Rajendran   Fri Jan 8 2010

Iam Dr.K.Rajendran Assistant Professor in Botany In Southern part of India People used to make green vegetabble with leaf and fruit.I would like to know is there any organic cultivation method. Please inform to me.

Dr.K.Rajendran   Fri Jan 22 2010

Iam Dr. K.Rajendran, Assistant Professor, Department of Botany. Our research team documented the Solanum nigrum common in southern part India. Sir I would like to know the marketting of the above species

   May 6 2015 12:00AM

my stud lambs have eaten it so I sadly lost my beautiful little mates from the plant and one is suffering from the side affects of eating it and I wish I could find an anecdote to make her well

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