Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bittersweet Nightshade

Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) is a xenospecies native to Europe and Asia and invasive everywhere around here. It kind of creeps me out, primarily because all parts of the plant are poisonous. Often this plant is misidentified as Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna), which is found in Europe, North Africa and Western Asia and is even more poisonous.
The thing is, when you're out foraging in the wild identifying stuff for possible consumption you have to separate the edible from the plants that'll kill you. That's like, rule #1. Night Shade is pretty easy to pinpoint and avoid for the salad bowl, stew pot, or tea ball.
Not to entirely demonize Bittersweet Nightshade, there are also purported medicinal benefits associated with the plant. All are external applications, and not particularly substantiated by studies. I'm not endorsing any use of this plant and continue to cringe a little inside every time I see it pushing up through something innocuous like a bramble of blackberries or a hedge row.


gypsywee said...

I've always thought it was kind of pretty. It always seems to pop up around my outdoor faucets.

drollgirl said...

well i have no interest in eating it, but it is GORGEOUS!!!