American Nightshade

Solanum americanum

Many varieties of nightshade grew around the farms and fields in Kentucky,  I stayed away from these plants because I heard that they were deadly poisonous.  Moving to Florida I found some nightshade plants growing in my landscaping.  I quickly pulled them out as weeds, but the bright green leaves and dark berries of these beautiful plants tempted me to let a few live.

After a few months of study, I found I had been throwing away a wonderful addition to my garden.  The American Nightshade can be deadly poisonous if berries are eaten green, but the shiny black ripe berries are a tasty treat with the flavor of a small tomato.  The young leaves can also be eaten as greens if boiled two times.

The American Nightshade has green berries flecked with white. When ripe they turn Shiny black. The stems of the berries all go back to generally one central point.  The berries do not adhere to the stems. The berries have many tiny seeds. The stem is not very hairy.  The leaves are alternate on the branches and have a toothy margin.  Do not eat green berries.

I do not recommend that anyone tries eating any nightshade without consulting with a local exert to make sure you have positive identification,  But at the 40 acre woods, you might get some nightshade berries in your salad.


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2 Responses to American Nightshade

  1. q says:

    I would like to know proper maintenance of this plant,
    in Orlando, to optimize its vigor /appearance, and longevity.
    Water, sun /shade, fertilizer, trimming.

    • Brian says:

      The best looking plants I have are growing in my raised bed garden. These have a wood core to keep the soil moist, some mulch and are in mosty full sun locations. I show some of these beds in other post. They also show up in flower beds around the house that get half sun, these plants are a bit more leggy and do not produce as well.

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