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PlantFiles: Horsenettle
Solanum carolinense

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: carolinense (kair-oh-lin-EN-see) (Info)

3 members have or want this plant for trade.


18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

12-15 in. (30-38 cm)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
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)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade
Partial to Full Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Late Fall/Early Winter


Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive

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:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing the rootball
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From herbaceous stem cuttings
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Click thumbnail
to view:

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #1 of Solanum carolinense by Jeff_Beck

By Jeff_Beck
Thumbnail #2 of Solanum carolinense by Jeff_Beck

By NatureWalker
Thumbnail #3 of Solanum carolinense by NatureWalker

By Farmerdill
Thumbnail #4 of Solanum carolinense by Farmerdill

By Dea
Thumbnail #5 of Solanum carolinense by Dea

By frostweed
Thumbnail #6 of Solanum carolinense by frostweed

By chicochi3
Thumbnail #7 of Solanum carolinense by chicochi3

There are a total of 14 photos.
Click here to view them all!


1 positive
2 neutrals
6 negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Negative vossner On Feb 1, 2012, vossner from Richmond, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

All plant parts are poisonous. This plant is also commonly known as "Devil's tomato", "Apple of Sodom", "porcupine tomato" and wild tomato, among others. But repeat, no edible!

Negative mahniah On Aug 5, 2011, mahniah from STORRS MANSFIELD, CT wrote:

I agree with justinbhay - this is a terrible weed and difficult to eradicate. I read that white vinegar will kill it, so I've been spraying. So far it's turning the leaves brown, but it hasn't been long enough to know if it really kills it down to that awful root system. I'll let you know.

Connecticut, zone 5

Negative justinbhay On Jul 7, 2010, justinbhay from Jasper, AL wrote:

this is the most awfull WEED i have ever seen!!!!

Negative pmgflowers On Sep 1, 2008, pmgflowers from Decatur, GA (Zone 7b) wrote:

No idea how this plant got into my yard, but I now patrol regularly, trying to eradicate it. My dog (Lab-Chow mix) LOVES it, and it makes her violently sick (volcanic diarrhea) and would kill her if she could get enough of it at one time. (It's toxic to livestock, although cows and horses generally have sense enough not to eat it green because of the prickles--it's a hazard to them in dried silage.)

Positive horsenettle On Jul 5, 2008, horsenettle from Havelock, NC wrote:

I found beauty in this humble weed. In the current state of drought in North Carolina, I planted it in a large pot and let the flowers bloom. It requires little care and is tolerant of many conditions. Never allow children to eat the fruit and do not plant it in your lawn. Also, you may want to gather up the seeds before they break open.

Negative sugarweed On Feb 14, 2006, sugarweed from Jacksonville & Okeechobee, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This was also growing in the Panhandle of Texas in the ditches of Hale County around Plainview Texas.
It was a very mean and persistant plant as it was too prickly to pull.

Neutral JodyC On Jan 17, 2005, JodyC from Palmyra, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

Horse Nettle is widely regarded as a weed, with some justication, but it is also one of the native wildflowers of the prairie. The fruits are benefical to wildlife. Because of the intense competition among plants and their root systems, this plant is less aggressive in prairie habitats than in disturbed sites around developed areas.

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

Several states have this plant listed as a noxious weed in the site.

This is one weed I absolutely HATE. Sharp thorns make this one hard to remove.

horsenettle Noxious weed
Carolina horsenettle Prohibited noxious weed
horsenettle Noxious weed
Carolina horsenettle B list (noxious weeds)
horsenettle Noxious weed
horse nettle Primary noxious weed
Carolina horsenettle Noxious weed

Neutral NatureWalker On Jul 11, 2004, NatureWalker from New York & Terrell, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

Carolina horsenettle
Group: Dicot
Family: Solanaceae
Growth Habit: Subshrub, Shrub, Forb/herb
Duration: Perennial
U.S. Nativity: Native

Plant Type: This is a herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 80cm in height (31inches). The stem is covered with spines.

Leaves: The leaves are alternate. Each leaf is irregularly lobed or coarsely toothed.

Flowers: The flowers have 5 Regular Parts. They are white sometimes light purple. Blooms first appear in mid spring and continue into early fall.

Fruit: A toxic berry. Green at first turning yellow very like a small tomato.

Habitat: Fields, fencerows and gardens.

Range: Most of eastern North America except extreme north.

This close relative of so many of our garden vegetables is reported to be responsible for the deaths of children who have eaten the berries. As with most members of the Nightshade family, even the ones with eatable fruits or tubers such as the tomato and potato, the foliage is toxic in sufficient doses. Though considered a 'weed' it has an attractive and interesting flower. A deep root makes it difficult to remove from gardens. There are many close relatives to this species in our area and many more in the tropics.

Lore: Cherokee used it as an insecticide to kill flies by putting crushed leaves in sweet milk.

Medical Uses: Despite it's toxicity this and other closely related Nightshades have been use medicinally. According to Foster & Duke the berries have been use to treat epilepsy and pain as a diuretic, antispasmodic, and aphrodisiac. The leaves have been used as an analgesic, poulticed on injuries or dermatitis or gargled for sore throats. The Cherokees used berries fried in grease as an ointment for mange in dogs and tied roots around baby's neck for teething, perhaps soothing the pain.

** Warning: All parts of this species are toxic and should not be taken internally without expert guidance. It contains poisonous aldaloids including solanine. **


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

Cullman, Alabama
Fayetteville, Arkansas
Morrilton, Arkansas
Storrs Mansfield, Connecticut
Pensacola, Florida
Cornelia, Georgia
Hinesville, Georgia
Roswell, Georgia
Anna, Illinois
Benton, Kentucky
Melbourne, Kentucky
Frederick, Maryland
Oakland, Maryland
Rockville, Maryland
Detroit, Michigan
Water Valley, Mississippi
Cole Camp, Missouri
Dittmer, Missouri
Deposit, New York
Garner, North Carolina
Havelock, North Carolina
Henderson, North Carolina
Louisburg, North Carolina
Norlina, North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
Ridgeway, North Carolina
Vaughan, North Carolina
Wilsons Mills, North Carolina
Youngsville, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Arlington, Texas
Fort Worth, Texas
Gary, Texas
Greenwood, Texas
Red Rock, Texas
Royse City, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Liberty, West Virginia

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