Ontario Weeds: Climbing nightshade
Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds, Order this publication
Table of Contents
- Other Names
- General Description
- Stems and Roots
- Flowers and Fruit
- Similar Species
- Related Links
Name: Climbing nightshade,
Solanum dulcamara L.,
Other Names: morelle douce-amère, Bitter nightshade, Bittersweet, Climbing bittersweet, Deadly nightshade, douce-amère
Family: Nightshade or Potato Family (Solanaceae)
General Description: Perennial, reproducing by seed and by spreading underground rhizomes.
Climbing nightshade. A. flowering stem
B. stem with green and red berries.
Stems & Roots: Stems
partially woody, weak, erect or vine-like and climbing over fence
lines and other vegetation, 1-3m (3-10ft) long, usually dying
back close to the ground each year but in milder areas or if protected
by snow becoming thick and woody in the lower part, hairless or
short-hairy, with lengthwise-shredding, light gray bark; leaves
alternate (1 per node), simple or lobed with 1 or more lobes near
the base giving them a mitten-like appearance
Flowers & Fruit: Flowers in much-branched clusters; each flower star-shaped with a 5-pointed light blue to violet or rarely white corolla, in the centre of which is a slender pyramid of 5 united bright yellow stamens); flowers followed by oblong green berries 8-12mm (1/3-½in.) long which turn bright red and juicy when ripe. Flowers in June and July; berries ripening in August and often remaining on the stems into the winter. Stems, roots, leaves and sometimes the green berries have a disagreeable civet-cat odour when bruised.
Habitat: Climbing nightshade occurs throughout Ontario in open woods, edges of fields, fence lines, roadsides, and occasionally in hedges and gardens.
Similar Species: It is distinguished by its vine habit, its shredding light gray back on older stems, its usually mitten-shaped leaves, its juicy red berries, and its strong disagreeable odour.
Caution: Stems and leaves are poisonous to livestock. The attractive, bright red berries have a bitter and sweet flavour, and, although some people can apparently eat them without harm, children have reputedly been poisoned by eating them.
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