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American black nightshade

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American black nightshade
American black nightshade berries.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Solanum americanum

American black nightshade flower.jpg
American black nightshade flowers.

The American Black Nightshade is a species of flowering plants known by the scientific name Solanum americanum. It is in the same family as the infamous deadly nightshade and within the poisonous side of the group. The plant is vascular with seeds and can be used in healing a brush in with poison ivy. The unripe berries (those which are green) of this plant are deadly, but the ripe ones (those that are black) can be eaten. They live along the coast and are considered a weed, living mostly as annuals, but can be found as perennial.


American black nightshade.jpg

American black nightshade plants grow on the ground and have stout stems with much support. They are a vascular plant and seed plants. A vascular plant has two specialized tissues called the xylem and the phloem. Xylem tissues move water and dissolved minerals up from the roots into the plant and the phloem transports sugars and other nutrients obtained by photosynthesis from the leaves to other parts of the plant. The seeds themselves are poisonous to ingest before they are ripe. The berries of the American black nightshade are a deep black color and branch in clusters. Black nightshade has dicot leaves that have a main vein branching into many smaller veins. The leaf has a slight undulation to its edges. The flower of the American black nightshade has five white (but can shades of purple or blue) petals with a yellow center. This plant is herbaceous, not woody. [1] It can grow to be about a foot in height and are bushy in appearance.[2]


The American black nightshade reproduces sexually. They grow white flowers that, when pollinated by bees, will turn into green berries, the same green as the plant. These berries will turn blackish or a dark (almost black) brown when they reach maturity and are deadly to consume when they are unripened. They flower year round (winter, fall, spring, summer), when ever the conditions were correct to support the growing plant.[3] American black nightshade can be a perennial plant but is mostly an annual plant.[4]Once the berries have become ripe, animals eat the berries and excrete the seed, spreading the plant wide and far.[5]


American black nightshade range in North America.

American black nightshade can be found in waste ground, open woods, pastures and roadsides. They are mostly found along the coastline of North America, starting in British Columbia all along the United States, through Washington to Florida. They are also found in Manitoba, Canada and in Missouri and Hawaii, USA. None of this plant should be eaten due to the toxic properties of the plant. [6] The unripened berries and the leaves are especially poisonous because they contain the glycoalkaloid solanine as well as the tropane alkaloids scopolamine (hyoscine) and hyoscyamine (an isomer of atropine).[7] They are also commonly found among rocks, on sandy beaches and trails. It is considered a weed because it grows almost anywhere it can be supported.The seed are spread when animals eat them because they have lost their toxic properties once ripe.[8]


American black nightshade, like most of the nightshade family, is a poisonous plant. Black nightshade poisoning occurs when an individual eats parts of the plant or the unripened berries. The plant and berries have two toxic chemicals inside of them, Atropine and Solanine (which is deadly even in small amounts). There are many ways to tell if a person is suffering from Black nightshade poisoning.

  • The eye pupils will be enlarged
  • The mouth is dry
  • They person in question may be suffering from stomach pain, diarrhea and vomiting
  • The pulse is either very slow or quite rapid
  • Shock might be settling in
  • Breathing is slow
  • The whole body may be sweating
  • The person in question might have a fever, headache, hallucinations, a loss of sensation and paralysis

If any of theses signs are present, and you live near black nightshade, DO NOT make the individual throw up unless instructed by a medical professional. Immediately call poison control (The National Poison Control Center (1-800-222-1222) can be called from anywhere in the United States) with the persons age, weight and condition, the name and the part of the plant swallowed (if you know it), the amount swallowed and an estimated time if you were not there when the person swallowed the part of the plant. Once in the emergency room, the outcome depends on how much the patient ate and how long the person did not receive medical attention. An IV may be attached so fluids are put in, the patient may be fed charcoal and gastric lavage (a tube through the mouth into the stomach to wash out the stomach) may be preformed. DO NOT PANIC. Hardly any body in the history of humanity has ever died of ingesting American black nightshade.[9]

On the upside, if a person is suffering from poison ivy, crushing the leaves of black nightshade, mixed with a little milk or cream will help. This mixture is on of the best home remedies to poison ivy.[10]


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