En EspaŅol

Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

Help us grow by giving to the Plant Database Fund or by becoming a member

Did you know you can access the Native Plant Information Network with your web-enabled smartphone?


Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

Search Smarty Plants
See a list of all Smarty Plants questions
Can't find the answer in our existing FAQs, submit a question to Mr. Smarty Plants.
Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Saturday - June 07, 2014

From: Albuquerque, NM
Region: Southwest
Topic: Poisonous Plants, Problem Plants, Herbs/Forbs
Title: Eliminating silverleaf nightshade from Albuquerque NM
Answered by: Barbara Medford


I have silverleaf nightshade in my yard and would like to eradicate it (yeah, I know, good luck!) or at least control it. Do you have any suggestions?


Well, having followed this link, Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade),  to our webpage on the plant, we sure can't blame you for wanting to get rid of the plant. Poisonous, agressive, with stinging hairs, it just doesn't seem to have any redeeming features, does it?  

According to this USDA Plant Profile Map, Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade) grows natively in a large portion of mid and western America, including Bernalillo County in New Mexico. From the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board:

"How does it reproduce?

Silverleaf nightshade reproduces by seed, rhizomes and root fragments.

How do I control it?

Mechanical Control

Hand-pull or dig plants, being careful to get all of the rootstock and dispose of the plants properly in the trash. Plants can re-grow after being clipped or mowed.

Herbicide Control

Silverleaf nightshade is difficult to control with herbicide because of its root system. Please refer to the PNW Weed Management Handbook, or contact your county noxious weed coordinator."

So, let's pretend this is poison ivy. We are going to quote directly from a previous answer and all you need to do is replace the words "poison ivy" with "silverleaf nightshade" each time you see them. The first supply you need is a pair of heavy-duty rubber gloves - these will protect your hands and lower arms from the poison and can be washed off before you allow the toxic fluids to follow you into the house. The next thing to do is never to let the flowers survive long enough to set seed, since this plant can reproduce just about every way a plant can reproduce. Take the whole flower, put it in a plastic trash bag and send it to the dump. Now, on to the mechanics of getting rid of the rest of the stuff:

"Vigilance and persistence are the keys.  If you can dig or pull up the roots of the plants, you are going to be able to get rid of the plants more quickly.   That will take a great deal of effort and you might not be able or willing to do this.  If you can't or don't want to make the effort to try and dig up roots, your best strategy is the following: 

  • Every time you see a new poison ivy, poison oak or poison sumac plant emerge in your yard, cut it off near the ground and IMMEDIATELY (using a small paintbrush--the small foam ones work well) paint the cut with the poison ivy Roundup or equivalent.  (Clorox is not likely to be particulary effective.)   You need to paint it as soon as you cut it because, as a means of defense against disease or insect infestation, plant cells close off wounds quickly and the herbicide won't be transferred to the roots.
  • Wrap the cutoff portion in a plastic bag and dispose of it.
  • Keep careful watch for new plants and act when you see them.  It will take a while, but it will eventually rid your yard of the poisonous pests.

Remember to read and follow the safety precautions listed on the label of the herbicide.   Wear long sleeves, long pants, shoes, socks and gloves to keep from getting the poisonous oils on your skin.

Please check the answer to a previous question about eliminating poison ivy with more detailed instructions as well as methods to avoid."

Good luck and our deepest sympathy!


From the Image Gallery

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Can oleander poison the ground below it?
June 29, 2013 - Can oleander poison the ground below it? Would it kill/damage grass or other plants below it? Thanks.
view the full question and answer

Using cattail fluff to stuff pillows
April 22, 2007 - Me and my children filled a pillow case with cattail feathers today and brought it home. My mother says that it is going to get or attract bugs. Are there any dangers in this little project? Than...
view the full question and answer

Is any part of Mountain Laurel poisonous to goats from Belton TX
May 02, 2013 - We are considering planting Mountain Laurel in a field where we keep goats. Will any part of the Mountain Laurel be poisonous if eaten by the goats? If it would be poisonous, could you suggest some o...
view the full question and answer

What to do if Mexican buckeye seeds are eaten
September 09, 2011 - What to do if seeds of the Mexican buckeye are eaten? I didn't know they were toxic. Please let me know as soon as you can. Thank you
view the full question and answer

Wild plums for jelly from Conroe TX
December 18, 2012 - Do wild plum trees grow in my area? I want to get some next summer to make plum jelly.
view the full question and answer

Smarty Plants's Facebook profile Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.

Mr. Smarty Plants wants you to be his Facebook friend. Click the Facebook icon to add yourself to Mr. Smarty Plants list of friends.
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center