Woody Nightshade, Climbing Nightshade, Bittersweet
Solanum dulcamara

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: dulcamara (dool-kah-MAH-rah) (Info)

Category:

Vines and Climbers

Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

Unknown - Tell us

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us

Height:

6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)

Spacing:

6-9 in. (15-22 cm)

Hardiness:

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)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade

Danger:

All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:

Blue-Violet

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Foliage:

Deciduous

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:

Non-patented

Propagation Methods:

By dividing the rootball

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

From herbaceous stem cuttings

From woody stem cuttings

Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds

Regional

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

, (2 reports)

Quitzdorf Am See,

Arvada, Colorado

New Castle, Delaware

Coeur D Alene, Idaho

Aurora, Illinois

Cary, Illinois

Grayslake, Illinois

Niles, Illinois

Westchester, Illinois

Wilmette, Illinois

Plymouth, Indiana

Valparaiso, Indiana

Des Moines, Iowa

Barbourville, Kentucky

Dayton, Kentucky

Cumberland, Maryland

Ellicott City, Maryland

Riverdale, Maryland

Gloucester, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

Clear Lake, Minnesota

Isle, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

Silver Creek, Minnesota

Helena, Montana (2 reports)

Manchester, New Hampshire

Collingswood, New Jersey

Dunellen, New Jersey

Buffalo, New York

Canastota, New York

Deposit, New York

Yorktown Heights, New York

Cincinnati, Ohio

Oak Hill, Ohio

Ravenna, Ohio

Cheshire, Oregon

Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania

Norristown, Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Reynoldsville, Pennsylvania

Newport, Rhode Island (2 reports)

Alexandria, Virginia

Lakewood, Washington

North Sultan, Washington

Seattle, Washington

Spokane, Washington

Beckley, West Virginia

Elkins, West Virginia

Hartford, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:

3
positives
3
neutrals
13
negatives
RatingContent
Negative

On Mar 1, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

The cultivation of this common weed is illegal in Connecticut. It is invasive through much of the United States. It is especially noxious as an aquatic, forming large floating mats and lining stream and pond banks.

Foliage is malodorous, especially when crushed. Many people get a skin rash on contact.

Stems root where they touch the ground. Plants left in brush piles will usually re-root and continue to grow. Cut stems tossed on the ground usually re-root.

Resistant to glyphosate herbicide. The stems are brittle and usually break off without the root if pulled. The roots are fairly shallow and generally fairly easy to dig out.

Negative

On Jun 1, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Solanum dulcamara is native to Europe from central Norway, south to northern Africa, and east and central Asia. It was introduced into the U.S. and Canada and has become invasive here. It chokes out native plants and is very difficult to get rid of.

Don't confuse this plant with Oriental Bittersweet and/or American Bittersweet. Oriental Bittersweet is another non-native invasive that is taking over U.S. and Canadian woodlands, displacing native plants. American Bittersweet, on the other hand, is a lovely native vine that is not overly aggressive. Unfortunately, the Oriental Bittersweet is taking over the American variety to the point that American Bittersweet is becoming hard to find in the wild. To tell which you have, look at the position of the berries (American will be a... read more

Negative

On Jun 21, 2012, cimoroba from Wilmington Manor, DE wrote:

This plant is a bane of gardeners. I found it growing in the yard of a former home and pulled it out. I received a nasty rash for my trouble. It took over three weeks to get rid of the rash. I had to hire someone to remove the rest of the plant. I now find it growing in my back yard in my current home. I will have to find someone to dig this out. Between this plant and morning glory vine that the birds seem to revel in planting I sometimes think of concreting the entire yard.

Positive

On Jun 19, 2012, skwiff from gillingham
United Kingdom wrote:

i have never had a problem with this plant. even though most call it a weed it can be a highly ornamental plant if trained correctly, treat it like a grape vine, train it up a trellis and cut it back to a central stem in the winter. the only down side to it is the fact that the plant smells like cat poop but overal look of the plant from a distance is nice :) a good way to stop the birds getting the berries is to get a cat, or to net the vines.

Negative

On Oct 31, 2011, kentstar from Ravenna, OH (Zone 5b) wrote:

It's taking over the middle of our hedges! How on earth do I erradicate this vine? I can't even get into the middle of the hedges (large evergreen hedges) to dig it out!

It must have spread as a weed within the hedges! Ugh!

Negative

On Jun 22, 2011, WaterCan2 from Eastern Long Island, NY (Zone 7a) wrote:

Extremely invasive and difficult to eradicate, birds seem immune to it's toxicity and spread the seed as well. Grows aggressively and is undeterred by my sandy soil here on the Island, prefers shade. Literally suffocates and cuts light from otherwise healthy trees.

Negative

On Jun 7, 2010, l6blue from Coon Rapids, MN (Zone 4b) wrote:

I think the foliage on this plant is not pretty. I have this coming up in one of my garden beds, and I'm constantly pulling it out.

Neutral

On May 31, 2009, grrrlgeek from Grayslake, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

Anyone growing this plant needs to cut off the fruit before the birds eat it, as daistuff does, or they will spread it.

Just to set the record straight, the Bittersweet vine mentioned below as being invasive and choking plants, as well as banned in New Hampshire, is the Oriental Bittersweet, Celastrus orbiculatus, introduced in the 1800's. It is NOT American Bittersweet, Celastrus scandens, a native plant that is fine to grow, and is even listed as "exploitably vulnerable" in NY.

Neutral

On Aug 19, 2008, daistuff from Cary, IL (Zone 5a) wrote:

I guess I got lucky that this came up right next to our deck, in the shade in front of a trellis that I was looking to cover. It doesn't seem to spread too quickly, but I do cut off and discard all the berries, and I aggressively trim all the long pieces that hang off the trellis. Wind the rest around and it looks very pretty! I was just starting to wonder if there was any vine that would grow in the shade under the deck, when this popped up. Grows in shade and sun. I guess I wouldn't plant it intentionally, but I've taken an "if you can't beat em join em" approach to it, and we are living in harmony (so far).

Positive

On Aug 10, 2008, NHVineLover from Manchester, NH wrote:

If you know what you're doing and are diligent in your gardening habits, this plant can be an absolute joy and wonderful to look at. Planted in a dry area, it is much easier to control instead of it controlling you.
Poisonous to pets and young children, pets actually avoid it, and children should be watched around it as they put everything into their mouths, but they would not appreciate the taste, so it's doubtful they would injest enough to actually make them ill.
In my garden, they are planted along a short expance of wire fencing installed specially to support the vines as a backdrop for a bed of various lillies and hostas. They do not have strangling vines as do the native true bittersweet vine, which is in a totally different family. That being the c... read more

Negative

On Jun 26, 2007, picante from Helena, MT (Zone 4b) wrote:

What an ugly mess of tangled, dead stems woven through our chain-link fence! We inherited this rambunctious plant, and I took an immediate dislike, since it was out of control. We dug it up last spring, and this spring we are still pulling thousands of seedlings, as it self-seeds all over creation.

Negative

On Jun 16, 2007, heathrjoy from Weedville, PA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This certainly is a nasty and invasive weed. I've had it pop up in our unused gravel parking place, year after year. It will choke out nearly any other plantings as the others here have said. I try to stay mostly organic in my garden, but I did have to resort to chemicals for this monster. RoundUp didn't do the job for me. I used a product by Ortho that was labeled to kill Poison Ivy and Blackberries. It is a slow-kill process, but it kills everything it touches (nasty, nasty stuff).

Please don't think you can control this stuff, it's on a mission to take over the world! If you do decide to keep it please at least keep it from going to seed so that your neighbors don't have to deal with it.

Negative

On Jun 6, 2007, ScottishThistle from Charlottetown
Canada wrote:

I once thought this plant was tolerable because of it's pretty deep purple flowers and red berries. I moved in to a new home in spring with a lovely natural pond and stream and was discovering this plant along the banks and some in the woods. Each plant got bigger throughout the summer and was entangling all sorts of natural plants with huge clumps of en snarling, thick vines.

They grow well from very dry soil to hydro phonically. They spread even faster in the water and were gumming up the stream and pond as any part of the vine would propagate roots if it touched watery soil.

I've tried for a year now to pull them out. They are poisonous (and smelly not in a good way) and I gotten a rash once when for a couple of hours I was trying to remove them with ... read more

Neutral

On Apr 3, 2007, renwings from Sultan, WA (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is a notable homeopathic remedy that is not commonly used, due to the skill required in dosing.
I found it growing under a hemlock tree in my yard this year.

The alkaloid Solanine asks as a narcotic and in large doses paralyzes the central nervous system without affecting peripheral nerves and muscles. An overdose will surely kill you.

Negative

On Jul 29, 2006, Itchyfromvine from Beckley, WV wrote:

This is not a plant anyone should desire. It is a weed! It is invasive, destructive, indestructible, and chokes out any desired plants. A single brush against my skin caused a rash that flared up within an hour and lasted for weeks(and I was wearing gloves!). I pull it whenever I see it, and can never seem to fully eradicated it.

Negative

On Jul 4, 2006, hildaham from Helena, MT (Zone 4a) wrote:

This plant was all over our landscape when we bought our house a year and a half ago. We didn't know what it was and our toddler picked the berries - luckily we got them out of his mouth before he swallowed any! DO NOT PLANT THIS if you have young children or children that visit. I am still finding it in our yard even though I pull up every plant I see.

Positive

On Nov 1, 2005, JerusalemCherry from Dunellen, NJ (Zone 6b) wrote:

Gardeners in North America either love bittersweet vines or hate them. Bittersweet plants can kill trees and are difficult to eradicate from your landscape. But during the fall season bittersweet vines put on a display few other plants can rival. To grow bittersweet vines or not to grow bittersweet vines: truly a bittersweet decision for landscapers.

This plant has many names, here are a few...Bittersweet, Bittersweet Herb, Bittersweet Stems, Bittersweet Twigs, Blue Nightshade, Felonwort, Fever Twig, Garden Nightshade, Nightshade, Nightshade Vine, Scarlet Berry, Staff Vine, Violet Bloom, Woody, Woody Nightshade, and Climbing Nightshade.

The standared form of this plant is very pretty. This plant is an unusually vigorous easy striking vine packed with puckered ... read more

Negative

On Jul 17, 2005, raccoonwoman from Silver Creek, MN wrote:

The flowers are pretty, and the berries look nice too, but it's much too invasive. I hate the way it will wrap itself all over a
tree(or anything else it can manage to climb on), and wind it's tendrils over everything - makes tearing it
out quite a chore.

Negative

On Dec 4, 2004, Equilibrium wrote:

Eurasian in origin. In the midwestern Region of the US, this plant has become extremely invasive. Appears these same characteristics are associated with this plant south of us here too. It has naturalized. Listed as noxious in a few states. All parts of this plant are poisonous to people, horses, pigs, horses, and pets which is why the plant is sometimes called Deadly Nightshade. The toxin this plant contains is called solanine.

If you want to remove it, dig it out and pick up all pieces of the plant as it has been my experience that any piece of the plant left on the ground is capable of resprouting. Special. I had a few areas of this where I actually broke down and used Round Up on it. Wear gloves when working with this plant or you might end up with a nasty rash.