Random Plant: Eastern black nightshade

Eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum, Solanaceae) photographed 09/12/2010 in a floodplain forest near Blissfield Michigan.

The nightshade family (Solanaceae) is really interesting to me.  Some plants are poisonous like deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) while others are commercially important like tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum), peppers (Capsicum sp.), eggplants (Solanum melongena), petunias (Petunia sp.), and tobacco (Nicotiana sp.).

Eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum, Solanaceae) photographed 09/12/2010 in a floodplain forest near Blissfield Michigan.

Like many plants in this family, eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum) contains the alkaloid toxin solanine in its foliage and immature berries.  Most herbivores avoid this plant, though the larvae of at least one moth species feed on the leaves (some leaf herbivory is evident in the photos, perhaps from this moth).

The berries of this nightshade are green when immature and black when mature.  The mature black berries are less toxic and edible in small quantities.  Some birds are known to feed on them.

Advertisements

About Jeremy Sell

Science and nature nerd.
This entry was posted in Botany, Ecology, Random Plant and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s