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?

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
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
2 ratings

Sunday - June 27, 2010

From: Plainwell, MI
Region: Midwest
Topic: Invasive Plants
Title: Invasive silverleaf nightshade in Plainwell MI
Answered by: Barbara Medford

QUESTION:

Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav. Silverleaf nightshade, Silver-leaf nightshade, White horse nettle. We purchased our land and built here 3 years ago. I have these all over my 30 acres of land including my horse pasture. How do I get rid of them? Will the grass eventually choke them out? I pull them as much as I can but there are too many to get them all out. Thank you.

ANSWER:

You have our sympathy, Solanum elaeagnifolium (silverleaf nightshade) is a real problem. It is invasive, poisonous, difficult to eradicate and native to North America. What it is NOT, according to this USDA Plant Profile, is native to Michigan. But we believe you, those profile maps are probably not updated very often, and an invasive plant like this can move faster than the research on it. From the page on this plant in our Native Plant Database:

"The lavender, star-shaped flowers with yellow centers are beautifully set off by the silvery foliage, and large patches of the plant in full bloom are striking. However, the plant is an aggressive, poisonous weed, spreading steadily from deep rootstocks; in a few states it is classified as a noxious weed."

According to this University of California Integrated Pest Management website Silverleaf Nightshade, it is reproduced by seed and creeping roots that give rise to bud shoots. That means mowing down the plant before it has a chance to flower and make seeds doesn't mean it can't survive from its roots. And, if it is in your horse pasture, you need to be even more concerned about its poisonous properties. Not knowing what kind of grass you have, we have no idea if it can crowd out the weed, but we wouldn't be optimistic. You might want to read some of the comments from Dave's Garden from people who are already fighting the plant.  One comment said they had "heard" grass would choke it out.

We read through several really mind-bending research papers on this plant, most of them from other countries where they are not welcoming the weed imported from the United States. This article from the Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board is even more discouraging.

We would suggest you contact the Michigan State University Extension office for Allegan County. Our thinking is that no matter what the USDA Profile says, if you have this weed on your property, you can bet other people around you do, too. Possibly the staff at the Extension Office have come up with some sort of plan. We hope so.

From our Native Plant Image Gallery: 


Solanum elaeagnifolium

Solanum elaeagnifolium

Solanum elaeagnifolium

Solanum elaeagnifolium

 

 

 

More Invasive Plants Questions

Why isn't Lantana camara in NPIN?
October 16, 2009 - Why don't you have Lantana camara in your data base? It is very common here, and is in the USDA database.
view the full question and answer

Information about empress tree (Paulownia tomentosa)
March 07, 2008 - I have an Empress Tree, 3 yrs old, and the limbs grow straight out from the trunk about 2-3ft and then grow straight upward. When do they start to grow outward for a canopy??
view the full question and answer

Removing invasive Dichelostemma firecracker plant from Austin
April 12, 2012 - We have dichelostemma firecracker plant & cannot kill it. We need help in getting rid of this plant. Spent another 3 hours digging up corms this afternoon. It is invading our backyard & want it kil...
view the full question and answer

Is Jerusalem thorn native to Central Texas?
July 17, 2009 - I was reading about Retama (Parkinsonia aculeata) which is native to South America and naturalized throughout Texas and the southern US. I also read that it is considered an invasive plant species in...
view the full question and answer

Eradicating sumac in Burnet, TX
February 05, 2009 - I have several varieties of sumac on my property. I need to know how to get rid of it. When I cut it down it seems to come back in force.
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.
E-NEWSLETTER | BECOME A MEMBER | DONATE NOW | MEDIA | SITEMAP
© 2014 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center