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Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

Horse-nettle

Scientific Name: Solanum carolinense L.

Other Names: morelle de la Caroline, ortie de la Caroline

Family: Nightshade or Potato Family (Solanaceae)

General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by underground rhizomes.

Habitat: Found in scattered localities throughout southern Ontario, usually in sandy soils, in grain fields, pastureland, waste areas, and occasionally in gardens.

Seedlings

  • Cotyledons are oval and oblong, 1.2 cm (1/2 in.) long, hairy on the margins
  • Short, stiff hairs on the stem and hypocotyl

Stems

  • Erect
  • 60- 100 cm (24- 40 in.) high
  • A few branches near the top
  • Covered with tiny, star-shaped hairs and scattered, long, hard, sharp spines

Leaves

  • Alternate (1 per node)
  • Elliptic in outline but shallowly to deeply lobed
  • 2- 5 rounded or sharp-pointed lobes on each side
  • Finely hairy on both surfaces with star-shaped hairs

Flowers & Fruit

  • Flowers arranged in 1 or more short racemes at the ends and sides of branches in the upper part
  • Corolla pale purplish to white
  • 5 stamens joined in a central column
  • Berry is smooth, yellow at maturity
  • Flowers from July until autumn

Often Confused With
Groundcherries (Groundcherries do not have prickles on the stems or leaves)

Horse-nettle at maturity Horse-nettle flowers Horse-nettle Horse-nettle Horse-nettle
Click to enlarge.