Weed warning: Climbing nightshade

Fall is a great time to spot the red berries of climbing nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

We always knew this as “deadly nightshade,” but that’s not the right name. Deadly this plant can be, but only if you eat the berries when they’re green before they ripen – not when they’re temptingly red like this. These red fruits might give someone a tummyache, but they’re unlikely to do worse than that, according to a number of studies cited in the link above.

The flowers are pretty, violet and yellow, with the characteristic beak of nightshade plants such as potatoes and tomatoes.

But this alien weed climbs, developing a tough, woody stem that can clamber up someone’s back fence (like the one in this picture) year after year. As each of those numerous berries contains numerous seeds, it sprinkles babies as it goes.

Why not use the red-berry flag now to spot them where they lurk and yank them out, crudely and emphatically. Night night, nightshade!

1 comment

  1. I remember having these around when I was growing up – just seeing the photo reminds me of the smell of the leaves/berries. I don't have them anywhere now and can't recall even having seen them in years.

You might also like