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Climbing nightshade

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Climbing nightshade
European bittersweet.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Solanum dulcamara

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Habitat Range

The Climbing nightshade (or European bittersweet) may seem pretty, but is very poisonous. The unripened berries of this plant have a toxin that can cause death when eaten. When ripe, the berries only have a minimal amount of toxin. The berries can also be used as a type of medicine for your skin.


Leaves of the bittersweet nightshade

The Climbing Nightshade is a perennial vine that's herbaceous so it dies off each year. It's flowers are purple stars that point backwards and the stamen is in a yellow cone, and grows out of clusters on branches. When ripe the berries are red with yellow were as the unripe ones are green, and the seeds are all egg shaped. The leaves on the Climbing Nightshade are green to purplish, the leaves are about 1-4 inches in length. The roots grow horizontally and suck up water constantly.[1] The leaves also alternate from oval to heart shaped and can be 2.5-8 cm long and 1.5-5 cm wide.It's flowers can be about 3-8 cm, there are usually 2 forked branches that flower in the center. The stem can reach to 1.5-4 in long. [2]


The flowers on the Climbing nightshade bloom from mid- May through September, and the fruit and seeds are very abundant to were there are at least 30 seeds in each berry. The way the the Climbing nightshade is spread is by birds coming to eat the berries and small pieces of the root or stem break off and fall into either some water or soil.[3]


Bittersweet nightshade often grows in wet sites or sites close to water, but also grows in moist upland sites: river banks, weedy ditches, sea shores, at the edges of lakes, bogs, and fens, roadsides, fencerows, orchards, and open forests. A wide variety of soils are colonized. The species tolerates dormant-season temperatures well below freezing but for unknown reasons has not invaded tropical climates. Continuous soil moisture is required. Seedlings are tolerant enough to grow under a moderate forest canopy. However, mortality of seedlings tends to be high (89 to 94 percent). Plants in full sun or light shade flower and fruit much more heavily than those in moderate to medium shade. Bittersweet nightshade climbs into small trees, shrubs, weeds, and fences or remains prostrate as opportunities avail themselves. Plants of the species grow singly or in small patches.[4]


The Climbing nightshade is a very dangerous and poisonous plant, when the fruits are green they contain steroidal alkaloids which has been known to poison cows and sheep. But when humans eat them they cause the same results. When the berries are mature and red they have been tested to have less toxin in them but still have an affect on children. Another test was taken on mice and hamsters were they had to eat immature green berries, and were proven to be toxic. Red berries were less toxic to the hamsters but still had an effect on them, because they are still mildly poisonous.[5]


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See Also