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
Not Yet Rated

Thursday - July 14, 2011

From: Kingsland, TX
Region: Southwest
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Plant Identification
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

What is the common purple flower found in fields that has a yellow flattened oval berry like pod after blooming? Leaves are grayish green. I am thinking in the nightshade family? It is a bane to a pasture and we would like to know how to eradicate it in the most benign way in order to have a better hay harvest. Any tips there would be greatly appreciated! Thank you for your help!

ANSWER:

This sounds like Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade).  It is considered a noxious weed in several states in North America where it is native.   In other countries it is considered an invasive non-native plant.   Here is information from the European and Mediterranean Plant Protection Organization (EPPO) on silverleaf nightshade's geographical, biology and means of eradication.  There are several reasons to eradicate it from areas where food crops for humans and livestock are grown—it competes for moisture and nutrients of the crops you are growing for hay; it may inhibit the growth of some plants (allelopathy); and it (especially the fruits) is considered toxic for livestock so you certainly don't want it mixed in with your hay.  The EPPO admits that this plant is difficult to eradicate.  Both the EPPO and Washington State Noxious Weed Control Board report that herbicides are not very effective in controlling it.  The most benign way to get rid of the plant is to pull or dig up the plants and dispose of them.  Depending on how large your area is and how much help you have, this may or may not be feasible.  Once you have removed them, you will need to monitor for new plants.  The plants do pull up relatively easily; however, you need to wear heavy gloves to pull them because the stem has sharp spines.  Merely cutting them will not eradicate them since they can regrow from the stems and roots.

 

From the Image Gallery


Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

More Plant Identification Questions

Dyes from native North American plants
November 29, 2012 - Dear Mr. Smarty Plants, I have been working as a textile designer for many years and am now interested in harvesting native North American plants in order to create natural dyes. Which plant ...
view the full question and answer

Is there an App for that?
June 05, 2012 - Do you have an app like leafsnap that my students can use to identify the plants around our school? I would like them to take a picture of the leaf of each plant with their iPads and have your data b...
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
April 04, 2009 - I found a purple berry-like plant in my back yard. It has no leaves, and it is about 5 or 6 inches tall. Do you know what it is called?
view the full question and answer

Plant Identification
June 23, 2011 - I live in Alaska and have TEENY cute 5 petaled white flowers growing on my lawn. They are very short, maybe 2 inches in height. The flower is about 1/2 inch wide. They look like a perfect tiny daisy. ...
view the full question and answer

Identification of tiny blue flower blooming in February
March 18, 2013 - There is a very small four petal flower that appears near the end of Winter. (This year they appeared in late Feb). These little flowers are a "Light Blueish" hue. They are around a quarter inch ac...
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