En Español

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?

Share

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - October 01, 2009

From: Brewerton, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Should Solanum eleagnifolium, silverleaf nightshade, be removed from yard
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I live in Upstate NY. I'm quite sure, after checking many sites/pictures, that I have a couple specimens of Silver Leaf Night Shade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) growing in the "wild" portion of my side yard. I've read that it's poisonous, and considered a noxious weed in the western states, but I'm not sure whether or not to remove it. My general policy has been to leave native plants unmolested, but there appears to be some question as to whether or not it's native to North America.. or South. It has also been given a very low rating Food, etc value in the US plant database. Should I pull out this plant?

ANSWER:

Upstate New York seems to be a bit out of range for Solanum eleagnifolium (silverleaf nightshade) according to the USDA Plants Database distribution map, but I suppose not an impossibility.  S. carolinense (Carolina horsenettle) does occur in Onondaga County, New York but should be easily distinguished from S. eleagnifolium (see below) by the leaf shape.  Solanum physalifolium (hairy nightshade), a South American native, does occur near Onondaga County and looks a bit like S. eleagnifolium.  If you would like for us to confirm the identify of the species, please send us photos and we will try our best to do so.  Visit Mr. Smarty Plants' Plant Identification page to read instructions for submitting photos.

Whichever one it is, however, it is really pretty much a matter of your choice whether to remove or not.  Many people would say that all of these are ugly weeds, but one person's weed is another person's wildflower.  I happen to think they are rather pretty myself.  Cornell University's Plants Poisonous to Livestock database lists the leaves and immature fruit of all species of Solanum as toxic.  This shouldn't necessarily be a problem for you unless you have small children or animals that might eat the leaves or the immature fruit.  Of the three, the USDA says that only S. physalifolium is an introduced species so I would recommend removing it, if that is what you have.

Photos of S. elaeagnifolium:


Solanum elaeagnifolium

Solanum elaeagnifolium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photos of S. carolinense:


Solanum carolinense

Solanum carolinense

 

 

 

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Native shade plants around fountain in California
March 18, 2009 - Hi, we just put a fountain in our front yard. It is in a mostly shady area. I need to know what plants would go best around the fountain and survive in the shade.
view the full question and answer

Balancing bloom in beds in Kents Store VA
May 26, 2010 - Our beds along a walkway in rural Central VA have replanted themselves - oenethera speciosa and dwarf yarrow have abandoned the north bed and are flourishing in the south bed. Sedums, lavender and can...
view the full question and answer

South Austin Groundcovers for Oak Shade
March 29, 2013 - Hi! I live in S. Austin now but used to work at the Wildflower Center! My backyard is shady with several oak mots. Do you have any suggestions as to what if any ground cover will grow in all that sha...
view the full question and answer

Vines for shade in Central Texas
February 04, 2008 - We'd like to fill in our long expanse of yard fencing with climbing vines. We are limited by 40' live oaks that cut off the sun but surely something works in the shade and heat!
view the full question and answer

Hedge shrub for shade in Jacksonville FL
January 17, 2013 - Looking for shrub or hedge ( no Azaleas please )to line front of house that is full time shade in Jacksonville Florida ( something different, on the lines of tropical if possible).
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | JOBS | SITEMAP | STAFF INTRANET
© 2016 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center