Ontario Weeds: Horse-nettle
Excerpt from Publication 505, Ontario Weeds,
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Table of Contents
- Other Names
- General Description
- Stems and Roots
- Flowers and Fruit
- Similar Species
- Related Links
Name: Horse-nettle, Solanum carolinense
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.
Horse-nettle. A. Top of plant.
B. Portion of horizontal rhizome producing new aboveground shoot.
Stems & Roots: Stems erect, 60-100cm
(24-40in.) high, with a few branches near the top, covered with
tiny, star-shaped hairs, each having 1 point longer than the rest
(visible only with magnification), and scattered, long, hard, sharp
spines often 5mm (1/5in.) long; leaves alternate (1 per node), elliptic
in outline but shallowly to deeply lobed with 2 to 5 rounded or
sharp-pointed lobes on each side, finely hairy on both surfaces
with star-shaped hairs plus several, long, hard spines, at least
on the underside along the midrib and main veins.
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, 1.5-2cm (3/5-4/5in.) across, with 5 stamens joined in a central column about 6mm (¼in.) long; berry smooth, yellow at maturity and about 1.5cm (3/5in.) in diameter. Flowers from July until autumn.
Habitat: Horse-nettle is found in scattered localities throughout southern Ontario, usually in sandy soils, in grainfields, pastureland, waste areas and occasionally in gardens.
Similar Species: It is distinguished by its harshly spiny stems and leaves, lobed leaves, large, white to purplish flowers, smooth yellow berries, and its spreading perennial rhizomes which enable this plant to form thick patches.
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