American Black Nightshade, Common Nightshade, Black Nightshade, Eastern Black Nightshade
Solanum ptycanthum

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: ptycanthum (ty-CANTH-um) (Info)
Synonym:Solanum americanum
Synonym:Solanum nodiflorum
Synonym:Solanum fistulosum
Synonym:Solanum nigrum

Category:

Annuals

Perennials

Shrubs

Height:

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Spacing:

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

Hardiness:

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Sun to Partial Shade

Light Shade

Danger:

Seed is poisonous if ingested

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Blooms all year

Blooms repeatedly

Foliage:

Herbaceous

Velvet/Fuzzy-Textured

Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall

From seed; winter sow in vented containers, coldframe or unheated greenhouse

From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds

Ferment seeds before storing

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

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

Menifee, California

Merced, California

San Diego, California

Stockton, California

Bartow, Florida

Green Cove Springs, Florida

Jacksonville, Florida

Largo, Florida

Orlando, Florida

Cornelia, Georgia

Hawaiian Paradise Park, Hawaii

Pukalani, Hawaii

Westchester, Illinois

Benton, Kentucky

Mc Dowell, Kentucky

Labadieville, Louisiana

Cumberland, Maryland

Marietta, Mississippi

Elizabethtown, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Fargo, North Dakota

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pelzer, South Carolina

Sullivans Island, South Carolina

Austin, Texas (4 reports)

Clute, Texas

Corpus Christi, Texas

Lubbock, Texas

Mc Kinney, Texas

Plano, Texas

San Antonio, Texas

Leesburg, Virginia

Spokane, Washington

Tacoma, Washington

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

6
positives
3
neutrals
0
negatives
RatingContent
Positive

On Dec 8, 2014, goofballTex from Plano, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

One of these showed up in a container under the shade of a black willow one day, and I kept it because it's native and actually kind of pretty, despite its status as a weed. The leaves are soft and somewhat velvety, with an aesthetically pleasing, wavy shape.

The fruits are round, about a quarter of an inch in diameter, and black when ripe, with some lighter black mottling. They're completely hidden under the leaves, so you have to push aside the leaves to find them.

After reading that the ripe fruits are somewhat edible, I decided to try one. Pretty tasty. The taste and texture is almost exactly like a tart blueberry. There are conflicting reports about whether the eastern black nightshade is edible or poisonous, and Edible and Useful Plants of Texas and the ... read more

Positive

On Dec 26, 2013, johanblignaut from Pretoria
South Africa wrote:

I have eaten black nightshade berries since I was a child, and by now must have consumed many kilograms of the stuff, both raw and cooked into a jam.
My experience is that it makes the best jam of any fruit I have ever tasted.
I grow it in my garden, and do so specifically for eating purposes. I have always wondered about the stories of its toxicity, one such story said that five berries can kill an adult. Well, just do not ever eat five berries, eat thousands in stead (just joking). Throughout Africa, this plant seems to be a delicacy.
Regards

Johan Blignaut

Positive

On Nov 16, 2013, akinik from Delhi
India wrote:

Evaluation of Antimicrobial Activity of Crude Methanol Extract of Solanum nodiflorum Jacq (Solanaceae).

Link: http://www.phytojournal.com/vol1Issue4/1.html

Positive

On May 17, 2013, sailfun29 from Holiday Lakes, TX wrote:

I have a whole backyard of American Black Nightshade here in SE Texas. Grows like a weed. I eat the berries right off the plant when fully ripe. Admittedly not great quanities, small palm full at a time..up to 25 berries or so in a day. they do have some medicinal properties and loads of antioxidents from what authorities say. ... but there have been no effects of any kind at all. The tiny Berries can be eaten when fully ripe , no problem. Everything I have read says small amounts are healthy, and cooking into jellies jams it's great!
Not like you are consuming that much unless you live totally on PBJ sandwiches 24/7.....

Positive

On Apr 29, 2012, incadoves from Austin, TX wrote:

The berries of this plant are delicious - sometimes called wonderberries - and not toxic if ripe (completely black.) They taste rather nutty. The birds love them but the plants reproduce so prolifically that sharing is fine! The plants are lovely, with the small white flowers, beautiful green berries and ripe black ones occurring at the same time. I believe this plant to be misunderstood, as was its originally-feared cousin in the nightshade family, the tomato.

Neutral

On Mar 18, 2012, CelticSpider from Tacoma, WA wrote:

I just thought I would add a location to the regional listing for this plant.
This plant popped up in my front yard (by my porch stairs) out of the blue in Tacoma, WA.

I have Woody Nightshade out in back so I immediately recognized this plant by it's unique flower as part of the Nightshade family. A google search later and ta da! I was right.

How this version of Nightshade ended up in by my porch stairs I have no idea and as I am not too comfortable with weeds that have a poisonous nature I had a friend of mine take it home with her.

C*S*

Neutral

On Jan 26, 2006, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

Ripe berries can be cooked into jam or preserves, but should not be eaten raw. Raw fruit may cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and may be fatal if consumed in large quantities.

Neutral

On Aug 23, 2004, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This is a common weed all over Florida. The leaves are toxic to farm animals, but most won't eat them because they are bitter. Pigs have been reported to die after consuming this plant.

Most of the poison is in the green berries. Ripe berries are used to make the tasty "Black Devil Jelly."

It grows on most school grounds in my area, some have made an effort to teach groundskeepers, teachers and children that they are poisonous plants.

An excellent reference is POISONOUS PLANTS AND ANIMALS OF FLORIDA AND THE CARIBBEAN by David W. Nellis.

Positive

On Aug 22, 2004, melody from Benton, KY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Wildlife use the berries for food, so this plant isnecessary for their existance. The berries can be poison to humans, so keep children away from them.

A common annual weed that appears in pastures, barnyards and fence-rows across the country.