Click on images to enlarge
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
habit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
leaves (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
the stems, leaves and flowers are sometimes purple-tinged (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of flower and young fruit (Photo: Greg Jordan)
rough stem and immature fruit arranged in a slightly elongated cluster (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of dull green immature fruit (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of dull black mature fruit with small spreading sepals (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
close-up of seeds (Photo: Steve Hurst at USDA PLANTS Database)
a blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) plant, but with larger reflexed sepals similar to those of glossy nightshade (Solanum americanum) (Photo: Chris Gardiner)
comparison of the very similar blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum), on the left, and glossy nightshade (Solanum americanum), on the right (Photo: Sheldon Navie)
Solanum nigrum L.
Solanum nigrum L. subsp. nigrum Solanum nigrum L. subsp. schultesii (Opiz) WesselySolanum opacum A. Braun & Bouché (misapplied)Solanum schultesii Opiz
black berry nightshade, black fruited nightshade, black nightshade, blackberry, black-berry night shade, black-berry nightshade, blackberry nightshade, common nightshade, deadly nightshade, garden huckleberry, garden nightshade, harsh, hound's berry, inkberry, nightshade, nightshade black-berry, poisonberry, potato bush, tomato bush, wild currents
Native to north-western Africa (i.e. Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), Europe, western and central Asia (i.e. Afghanistan, Iran, Lebanon, Syria, Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, western Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), China, and the Indian Sub-continent (i.e. northern India, Nepal and Pakistan).
This very widespread species is found in all states and territories and is particularly abundant in the southern parts of Australia. It is widely naturalised in Queensland, New South Wales, the ACT, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australia. Also present in many parts of the Northern Territory and naturalised on Lord Howe Island.
Wide naturalised in tropical and southern Africa, Madagascar, eastern Asia (e.g. Japan and Taiwan), New Zealand, North America (i.e. Alaska, the USA, Canada and Mexico), Central America (i.e. Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras and Panama), the Caribbean, South America (i.e. Chile, Colombia and Peru), Mauritius, and on several Pacific islands (e.g. Guam, New Caledonia and Hawaii)
A common weed of crops, pastures, orchards, vineyards, roadsides, gardens, disturbed sites and waste areas in temperate, sub-tropical, tropical and semi-arid environments.
A short-lived (i.e. annual or short-lived perennial) herbaceous plant or small shrub growing up to 1.25 m tall. It is usually upright (i.e. erect) in habit, but plants may become spreading with age.
- a bushy or herbaceous plant growing up to 1.25 m tall.
- its stems are rough in texture and its leaves are slightly hairy or hairless.
- its small star-shaped flowers are white (often tinged with purple) and borne in small clusters in the leaf forks.
- its fruit are dull green when young, turning purplish-black and remaining dull in nature as they mature.
Stems and Leaves
Stems are sparsely hairy (i.e. puberulent), or occasionally hairless (i.e. glabrous), and are rough in texture. They are green or purplish-green when young.
The alternately arranged leaves (2-13 cm long and 1-8 cm wide) are borne on stalks (i.e. petioles) 5-30 mm long. Leaf blades are oval (i.e. elliptic), elongated (i.e. lanceolate) or egg-shaped in outline (i.e. ovate) and taper to a point at the tip (i.e. acute or acuminate apex). Their margins are either entire, bluntly toothed (i.e. crenate), or slightly lobed (i.e. sinuate). They are sparsely hairy (i.e. puberulent) on both surfaces.
Flowers and Fruit
The small star-shaped flowers (7-12 mm across) are borne in several-flowered clusters in the leaf forks (i.e. axils) near the tips of the branches. These flower clusters have a main stalk (i.e. peduncle) 1-2 cm long and each flower also has its own stalk (i.e. pedicel) 7-11 mm long. The flowers have five white or purple-tinged petals (3.5-4.5 mm long), that are fused together at the base, and a yellow central cone. They also have five small greenish sepals (1.5-2.5 mm long), five yellow stamens (about 2.5 mm long), and an ovary topped with a style and stigma. Flowering occurs throughout the year.
The rounded fruit (i.e. globular berries) turn from green to dull black or purplish-black in colour when mature. These fruit (5-8 mm across) are generally borne pointing downward (i.e. deflexed) with sepals that generally point outwards. They contain numerous small seeds (about 1.5 mm long by 1 mm wide).
Reproduction and Dispersal
This species reproduces mainly by seed, which are most often spread by birds and other animals that eat the fruit.
Blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is regarded as an environmental weed in Victoria, Western Australia, New South Wales, Queensland and the Northern Territory.
Not declared or considered noxious by any state government authorities.
Blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is very similar to glossy nightshade (Solanum americanum), and intermediates between the two species are sometimes seen. However, blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) can typically be distinguished by its relatively dull fruit with smaller outward pointing sepals. Its flowers are also arranged in slightly elongated clusters, and its fruit are generally borne pointing downwards.
Blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is also similar to hairy nightshade (Solanum chenopodioides), cherry nightshade (Solanum physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum) and the native greenberry nightshade (Solanum opacum). These species can be distinguished by the following differences:
- blackberry nightshade (Solanum nigrum) has almost hairless leaves and stems. Its fruit are usually very glossy in appearance and turn black or purplish-black as they mature.
- hairy nightshade (Solanum chenopodioides) has very hairy leaves and stems. Its fruit are dull in appearance and turn black as they mature.
- cherry nightshade (Solanum physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum) has somewhat hairy leaves and stems. Its fruit are usually glossy in appearance and green to purplish green when mature.
- greenberry nightshade (Solanum opacum) has somewhat hairy leaves and stems. Its fruit are usually glossy in appearance and are green or whitish-green when mature.
Note: For a more in-depth key to distinguish between all of the solanums (Solanum spp.) present in eastern Australia, see the online key to the Solanum Species of Eastern Australia at http://delta-intkey.com/solanum/index.htm.
Fact sheets are available from Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation (DEEDI) service centres and our Customer Service Centre (telephone 13 25 23). Check our website at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au to ensure you have the latest version of this fact sheet. The control methods referred to in this fact sheet should be used in accordance with the restrictions (federal and state legislation, and local government laws) directly or indirectly related to each control method. These restrictions may prevent the use of one or more of the methods referred to, depending on individual circumstances. While every care is taken to ensure the accuracy of this information, DEEDI does not invite reliance upon it, nor accept responsibility for any loss or damage caused by actions based on it.
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