Common Nightshade

Scientific Name: Solanum nigrum
Family Name: Solanaceae

Flower: Small, star-like white flowers 3/8 in. (8 mm.) wide, with five petals that are slightly curved backwards and five yellow stamens. The inner portion of the flower often has a slightly lavender cast.

Leaf: Thin, toothed, ovate leaves 2-4 in. (5-10 cm,) long.

Plant: Common Nightshade grows from June to November, and it grows 1 – 2.5 in. (30 – 75 cm.) tall.

Identifying Characteristics: If no flower exists, the leaves identify Common Nightshade, as they are wavy, and vary from other Nightshade leaves. Another characteristic that identifies Nightshade are its berries, which are green turning to black.

Location: We found Common Nightshade growing out of a dead tree stump to the right of the entrance to the Brandeis campus, down the hill from the Rosenstiel building.

History and Comments: Common Nightshade is native to the United States, but not to Massachusetts. It first arrived to colonize disturbed areas, and it spread to cultivated areas as well as woods clearings. Nightshade is in the same family as the tomato, and if you cut open a Nightshade berry, its insides look like those of a small tomato.

    Unless otherwise specified, all text, photographs, and drawings are Copyright (c) by Shu-Yee Chen and Deborah Hamer 2003. No part of this page may be reproduced without prior written consent of the authors.