Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

nightshade flower

nightshade leaf
fascinating shaped leaf

not quite ripe berries

ripened berries

Location: Nancy Creek Washington (Ferry County)

Information: All nightshade plants are related to potatoes, pepper and and common vegetables that we understand however the problem comes with the alkaloids. This is a fascinating plant in many ways. First, it’s the green berries (see above) that have been noted to cause harm to cattle, sheep and humans. When the berries become red they contain less of the alkaline that actually cause harm. The leaves are high in the alkaline. Thus the plant is utilized for herbal remedies but should only be done by a high end practitioner and in general should be avoided. To give you an example when the green berries or the leaves are fed to mice they die, however, the red berries do not kill mice. It is never recommended for children to eat at any stage. Which causes a problem as the bright red berries often are alluring. If a child (you know) ingest the berries or any of the plant it is recommended to take them to the hospital immediately with a piece of the plant they’ve eaten. The second reason it’s fascinating is it is part of soothsaying and witchcraft and is often utilized for various rituals. And lastly, a toxic dose causes severe digestive upset, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, trembling, weakness, difficulty in breathing, paralysis and may be fatal. In summary this is a plant and berry one should never eat. Other names this plant is commonly called besides climbing nightshade is European bittersweet, bitter nightshade, bittersweet, climbing bittersweet, and even more darkly deadly nightshade. Some gardeners have indicated that when you handle the plant (by attempting to get rid of it for example) it should only be done with gloves as many have reported erupting in an uncomfortable rash.

USDA Plant Database
E-Flora on Climbing Nightshade


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