Friday, 31 August 2012


Woody Nightshade Berries (Bittersweet) - Solanum dulcamara


Paul @ Leeds Daily Photo said...

I saw one of these in flower a while back at the back of Leeds parish church but could not think what it was. I can see why people might think they were a type of tomato.

RuneE said...

I have heard about Deadly Nightshade, but are these poisonous too?

Christine H. said...

This does look very similar to the deadly nightshade that we have here in Oregon as a pesky weed. It is kind of pretty though. Your photo certainly shows that.

Lucy Corrander : Photos said...

Hi Paul, Rune and Christine.

I confess I had always called this plant 'Deadly Nightshade' until I looked up the botanical name to go with the picture. Deadly Nightshade is Atropa belladonna. Woody Nightshade is Solanum dulcamara.

Here's a neat set of photographs which show that the flowers and leaves are different from those of Woody Nightshade.
If I find a picture with the berries, I'll add it here. Googling images doesn't work - only confirms that a lot of us are confusing the two! Maybe it's a clash of names between British and North American terms? Don't know!

Woody Nightshade (this one) is Solanum dulcamara and has flowers which are prettier than the deadly nightshade ones. I have a photo with them in too - I think maybe I should post that as well.

Poisonous? Yes!

Woody Nightshade is also called Bittersweet. When I was checking what plant this is, I came across a note saying it was given this name because, if you chew the root, it starts off tasting sweet, then turns to bitter in your mouth. As all parts of the plant are (I think) poisonous, I don't know how long you are given between noting the flavour and getting ill or falling down dead or whatever it is that happens next!

As for tomatoes . . . the flowers, although purple and yellow, remind me of tomato flowers and tomatoes are related to potatoes - whose fruits are poisonous . . . so maybe they are part of the same group?

Pottering around seeing if I could find the answers to all these questions, I've come across this page

I have no way of knowing how accurate it is but it does give a lot of details - including instances of what has happened to people who have eaten the berries.

Ah! That site has Deadly Nightshade too - along with a picture of deadly nightshade berries.

Now I'm browsing round that site and am glad I found it!


thepoisongarden said...

Thanks Lucy,

Try this page for pictures of the two plants side by side.

That name 'dulcamara' actually means 'sweet bitter' and the taste is sweet first then bitter.

And it is very bitter indeed. I chewed one berry for about 30 seconds before spitting it out but still had the bitter taste in my mouth ten minutes later.

Toffeeapple said...

The response from Poison Garden was perfect. The difference between the two is obvious when you see the two together. Potatoes, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, chillies and Solanum Crispum are all in the same family, an amazing thought isn't it?

Wayne (Woody), whatever said...

I really like the contrast of colors, the red pops against the grey. Nice!