White Horsenettle, Silverleaf Nightshade, Bull Nettle, Olive-leaf Nightshade, Devil's Tomato
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: elaeagnifolium (el-ee-ag-ne-FOH-lee-um) (Info)

Category:

Perennials

Height:

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Spacing:

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

Hardiness:

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)

USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun

Danger:

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Violet/Lavender

Purple

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Silver/Gray

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Unknown - Tell us

Regional

This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Chino Valley, Arizona

Concho, Arizona

Green Valley, Arizona

Kingman, Arizona

Oracle, Arizona

Peridot, Arizona

Phoenix, Arizona

Sedona, Arizona

Banning, California

Florence, Colorado

Decatur, Georgia

Oak Grove, Louisiana

Brookeville, Maryland

Mathiston, Mississippi

Belton, Missouri

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Hilliard, Ohio

Arlington, Texas

Austin, Texas

Boerne, Texas

Bryan, Texas

De Leon, Texas

Fort Worth, Texas

Grand Prairie, Texas

Lampasas, Texas

Quitman, Texas

San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)

Spicewood, Texas

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

7
positives
5
neutrals
6
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Jul 17, 2014, drendrewolf from Chino Valley, AZ wrote:

While this plant is indeed noxious and very hard to get rid of, it's excellent for xeriscaping. The major catch is that your xeriscaped garden needs to be in a contained area and should not be used by gardeners with free-roaming animals that might nibble on them.

We've coupled silverleaf nightshade with purple blooming alfalfa and buffalo grass in a contained "butterfly garden" near our orchard. What the nightshade takes from the soil the alfalfa returns to it, and they grow side by side easily without getting in each other's way. The butterflies and bumble bees do love it.

If you choose to use this in a xeriscape first check to make sure that it's legal in your area, as this plant is outlawed in some states and some regions of other states.

... read more

Negative

On Aug 10, 2011, Lynnpatsy from Banning, CA wrote:

I chose negative because of the difficulty getting rid of them. They are beautiful to look at. And I especially enjoy watching the large black "Bumblebees" doing their pollenating of this plant. These "bees" are at least an inch long, really chubby and all black. Does anyone know whether they are truly bees? Or are they called something else?

Also, I live in the Southern California semi-desert area and have not personally seen this weed anywhere else so far. I guess birds brought them to me many years ago, at least 20 years now.

Positive

On Mar 12, 2011, azmorgan from Phoenix, AZ wrote:

I have been trying to get rid of the silverleaf nightshade for many years and I think I have finally succeeded. I decided that I could not kill it all at once so i just started pulling every one of them as soon as they popped up. It has taken about five years but so far this year I have only pulled a half dozen or so. Before I started this approach they had taken over my side yard and had started on my front yard. I think this might be their last gasp of life (I hope). I think some seeds hitched a ride on my backpack while I was in the Grand Canyon on one of my hikes. They are ubiquitous in the area around Phantom Ranch where they grow into pretty good size shrubs.

Positive

On Feb 21, 2008, Catscan from Lodi
United States wrote:

I'm sure this is a noxious weed--but it is rare here and truly lovely. The one patch I know has very bushy silver foliage and is covered in stunning blue flowers in mid to late summer. It looks like something you would want to grow as an ornamental. It is contained in compacted earth between two fields cultivated in a rotation of grain and tomatoes and doesn't seem to be spreading. None of the farmers I've spoken to are familiar with it, so I'm assuming it is not common or problematic in this part of Northern California.

Negative

On Sep 9, 2007, heatherabq from Albuquerque, NM wrote:

I spent about two months digging up all of the weeds in my backyard and then spread an organic anti-weed formula onto the dirt to keep the yard relatively weed free until fall. I was planning on planting grass this fall. My whole yard - literally- is now filled with horse nettle. From what I've read here today there is no way to get rid of it. Someone posted that grass will choke it out.

Positive

On May 17, 2007, frostweed from Josephine, Arlington, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

Silver-leaf Nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, is native to Texas and other States.

Negative

On Apr 9, 2007, pmgflowers from Decatur, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

This plant is indeed toxic! Last spring & summer, my 10-year old Lab/Chow mix had several unexplained episodes of bloody diarrhea. (We're talking uncontrollable, high-volume, day and night attacks.) Hundreds of dollars' worth of diagnostic testing at the vet did not identify a cause. Then one day, I noticed her munching on a weed (the leaves) in the large, fenced backyard. I'd never seen that weed before (although we seem to have every other undesirable flora), so googled until I found it--horse nettle. After reading of its toxic properties, I went out immediately (in the rain) and dug up the three plants I could find. I was very careful to dig deep and not chop off any of the roots to leave behind, and disposed of it in the garbage (not the yard waste bound for the community compost proje... read more

Neutral

On Feb 11, 2007, Xenomorf from Valley of the Sun, AZ (Zone 9b) wrote:

I've seen this growing in the wild in Phoenix & Oracle Junction, & Concho Arizona

Positive

On Oct 26, 2005, whiten from Oak Grove, LA wrote:

My grandfather taught my mother something wonderful about this plant. Yes, plant not weed. The root of this plant has a bark around it. If the plant is old enough you can take a knife and cut the bark from the root into beads. String these on thread and place them around a teething baby's neck. They will completely stop all symptoms of teething. Loose stools, fever, crying with sore gums will go away. You'll never know your baby is cutting teeth until the tooth shows up. But you have to leave them on all the time. You cannot take them off for a few days and then put them back on. Take them off about once a month and replace with new ones. I have a 12 year old son and I used them on him. I put them on him when he was about 5 months old. Never new he was teething until he got a ... read more


Editor's Note: The homeopathic remedy described here is contradicted by the warnings found on most toxic/poisonous plant lists and websites, most of which state that all parts of Solanum elaeagnifolium are toxic to humans and livestock.

Ingestion can cause severe to lethal gastrointestinal and musculoskeletal problems, as well as birth defects.

Negative

On Oct 23, 2005, Breezymeadow from Culpeper, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is the bane of my existence & I can't say enough negative things about it.

First off - all parts of the plant are toxic if ingested by livestock, & as a horse owner I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time eradicating it from my fields & gardens, especially since it sometimes comes in with an occasional hay or straw bale. Trying to pick the dried stuff out of hay to dispose of it is nearly impossible due to the thorns, & the round marble-size fruit roll out everywhere.

As an organic gardener, I eschew most herbicides, but even RoundUp doesn't have much effect on it. And don't try to pull it out unless you're wearing good heavy gloves. The tiny needles that cover the stems on even small plants go iinto ones hands easily, & are a real devil to ... read more

Neutral

On Oct 22, 2005, zemerson from Calvert County, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

I saw this plant on countless roadsides in Albuquerque and only just recently found out what it was. I've seen a white form of this also.

Neutral

On Jul 13, 2005, prairieguy from Janesville, WI wrote:

I discovered this growing in my 4 acre prairie restoration project. It does well here in Wisconsin, especially in broken ground (crop land). Now, in the sixth year of this project, it has appeared, but I believe it poses no problem as it should be "choked out" as the grasses and forbes mature.

Negative

On Nov 13, 2004, cherishlife from Pocola, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

This plant is listed as a noxious weed by several states in the plant.usda.gov site.

Arkansas:
purple nightshade Noxious weed
California:
white horsenettle B list (noxious weeds)
Hawaii:
silverleaf nightshade Noxious weed
Idaho:
silverleaf nightshade Noxious weed
Nevada:
white horsenettle Noxious weed
Oregon:
silverleaf nightshade "A" designated weed
silverleaf nightshade Quarantine
Washington:
silverleaf nightshade Class A noxious weed
silverleaf nightshade Noxious weed seed and plant quarantine

Negative

On Nov 11, 2004, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

This is horrible weed that pops up in flower beds. You can pull and spray and pull and spray but it always comes back.

The sharp nettles on this plant are painful if touched and can cause rashes.

I believe this plant serves as a host plant to many moth species and maybe some butterflies as well.

Neutral

On Jul 10, 2004, ButterflyMom21 from San Antonio, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

I had no idea this was something other than a nuisance in my backyard! No matter how often I mow it down or pull it out by the roots, this insistent plant grows back every year in the same area of my back yard! It definitely gives the area a unique look, it just also promotes a lot of other weeds to grow in its shadows.
Interesting note... when I first moved out here, my kitty would sometimes escape outside... and she would ALWAYS head straight towards these plants and roll around and act all giddy and "high", both while rubbing the plants and for a few hours afterwards... Now knowing it is in the nightshade family, I can understand her reaction to it a bit more.

Positive

On Jun 16, 2004, Wingnut from Spicewood, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Useful as a poultice to alleviate the itch of poison ivy. For that alone I give it a positive rating! Native Texas wildflower.

Neutral

On Sep 10, 2003, ladybug66 wrote:

As I cannot seem to grow anything except noxious "weeds" in my desert yard here in Arizona, the least I can say about this one is that it is pretty to look at. In researching this plant, I have found that it is banned in quite a few areas as it is extremely difficult to get rid of and the leaves and berries are poisonous to livestock. It seems to also be a hazard to crops as it takes over quite readily. I have not tried to get rid of it because it beats looking at desert dirt.

Positive

On Jul 15, 2003, doglady wrote:

This nettle grows with ease here in Georgia and seems to especially like growing in my dogpen which is mostly red clay on a draining slope. This plant produces berries that are dull to medium yellow and seem to have benefit as a pain reliever but be aware that this is the nightshade family and what I can ingest safely may make others quite ill. It grows wild in this area and as yet I have not tried to cultivate it.