Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: 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

8 members have or want this plant for trade.


24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

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

Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade
Light Shade

Seed is poisonous if ingested
Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:
White/Near White

Bloom Time:
Blooms all year
Blooms repeatedly


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:

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

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There are a total of 26 photos.
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6 positives
3 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive goofballTex 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 Southwest says that its toxicity is variable depending on variety and geographical location, so as with all potentially poisonous plants, start with very small amounts at a time, with plenty of time in between samples, then work your way up in small increments, and don't overdo it. If it turns out that your berries are safe to eat, they would make a terrific snack, jam, or pie.

Don't eat the green berries.

Positive johanblignaut 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.

Johan Blignaut

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

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


Positive sailfun29 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 incadoves 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 CelticSpider 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.


Neutral Terry 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 MotherNature4 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.


Positive melody 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.


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

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