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
1 rating

Tuesday - June 14, 2011

From: El Paso, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Shade Tolerant
Title: Silverleaf Nightshade, Happy in El Paso Texas
Answered by: Leslie Uppinghouse

QUESTION:

Trying to identify a small wildflower all over in our El Paso neighborhood. Lavender bloom, five pointed petals, Star pattern inside, five bright yellow pistols. Beautiful. Thanks!

ANSWER:

What you are probably seeing is Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade) a common plant you would see in your area. You have made it easily to identify with your clues of five petaled lavender flowers with bright yellow stamen. In the Solanaceae or potato family, five petals fusing to form the flower are a common trait and nightshade has this distinctive coloring of purple and yellow. 

In El Paso and throughout the Southwest there is a long history with nightshade in the making of cheese, specifically Asadero cheese. The crushed seeds from the berries helps to curdle milk. These berries are poisonous to people as well as livestock so don't attempt any cheese making yourself. It also produces solasodine, used in the manufacture of steroidal hormones. Medicinally it has been used for tooth aches, sore throats and even rattlesnake bites. 

Nightshade is a perennial. The roots are long, sometimes up to six feet, which is why you notice this plant in higher numbers than other flowering plants in times of drought. They also produce rhizomes which help to keep the number of plants plentiful once established. Silverleaf nightshade is considered a noxious weed throughout the Northwest. States in non-native regions where it has been introduced find it hard to eradicate. Nightshade is highly deer resistant, so for your area, it is not a bad little plant to have around. 

 

From the Image Gallery


Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

More Shade Tolerant Questions

Destructive landscape crews in The Woodlands TX
October 20, 2012 - Hi. We need help. We recently moved to a house where landscape crews have been blowing away the leaf litter from the front yard for many years. The underbrush was also cleared long ago. The result...
view the full question and answer

Fast-growing vine for shade in Brooklyn
June 05, 2011 - I am looking for a flowering vine that is fast growing and will be able to flower this season if I plant it within next couple weeks (in June) here in Brooklyn. I want something that will grow up a pi...
view the full question and answer

Salt tolerant plants for shade on tidal inlet in NY
August 11, 2013 - Are there any salt water tolerant grasses or forbs with deep roots that grow in shade? I live on a tidal inlet/canal on Long Island NY. The southern bank has cedars and oaks but the soil is eroding ...
view the full question and answer

Deer-resistant shade shrubs for Lago Vista, TX.
June 24, 2010 - I purchased a home in Lago Vista, Tx. It has a very shady front yard. I want to plant some blooming shrubs that THE DEER WON'T EAT! I would prefer native plants for the area. What should I look f...
view the full question and answer

Plants for shade in Abilene TX
October 29, 2011 - I live in Abilene, Texas. I am trying to find the best plants to fill in an area on the North side of my home, which gets absolutely no sun. The area is sprinklered, and stays fairly moist. I really d...
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 | STAFF
© 2015 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center