Solanum nigrum

Black Nightshade

Botanical description: Solanum nigrum, is truly a cosmopolitan species, currently found across the globe, from its origins in Eurasia. Considerably less showy than the Solanum dulcamara, black nightshade is a small, bushy upright annual to an average height of eighteen inches. Foliage is quite variable, with dull green blades, often with lobed margins, sometimes hairy. It has been contested that the botanical name Solanum nigrum may refer to a group of species, instead of a solitary plant, which may account for its variability. The plant produces small star shaped white flowers with a central beak of yellow anthers that hang below leaf axils. Flowers are held in small groups of five to ten that develop into a cluster of dull black berries. These berries are claimed to be poisonous until ripe, after which they are cooked and used in preserves, jams and pies. The toxicity of the plant is greatly debated. Black nightshade favors sunny moist soils, high in nitrogen, though its strong taproot allows it to adapt to a variety of habitats. It often insinuates itself into garden plots amidst plant relatives, tomato and pepper, as the young plants resemble each other.