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
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
3 ratings

Sunday - September 16, 2012

From: Shawnee, OK
Region: Southwest
Topic: Edible Plants, Poisonous Plants
Title: Is it possible to eat one nightshade berry and live?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Can I eat one nightshade berry and live? I am 18.

ANSWER:

There are lots of plants with nightshade as part of their common names; but if you mean Solanum americanum (American black nightshade), I wouldn't try it if I were you.   You might not have the chance to say "I am 19!"   [Please note that Solanum nigrum is a synonym for Solanum americanum.]  See the links from Poisonous Plants of North Carolina, Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System and the University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants Database  for information about Solanum americanum.  Most of the other nightshades are also in the Genus Solanum and most are noted for some degree of toxicity.  Here are other nightshades that occur in Oklahoma:

S. citrullifolium (Watermelon nightshade).  Native.  Here are photos.  I could find no record that it is toxic.

S. dulcamara (Climbing nightshade).  Non-native.  Here are photos and more information from Noxious Weeds, King County, Washington.  Charecterized as HIGHLY TOXIC by Poisonous Plants of North Carolina and it is listed in the Canadian Poisonous Plants Information System and University of Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants Database.

S. elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade).  Native.  According to Southeastern Arizona Wildflower these plant, especially leaves and green fruit, are poisonous.  However, the Veterinary Medicine Library of the University of Illinois says that for S. eleagnifolium it is the ripe berries that are more poisonous than the green unripe berries—this is in contrast to most other species of nightshade.  They also mention that silver nightshade can be poisonous at only 0.1% of the body weight.  The Veterinary Medicine Library of the University of Illinois lists all Solanum species and says that risk of poisoning depends on the species, the maturity of the plants and other conditions.

S. interius (Deadly nightshade).  Native.  Here are photos.  I could find no source listing S. interius as toxic.

S. physalifolium (Hoe nightshade).  Non-native.  Here are photos and more information from Montana Plant Life that lists it as potentially toxic.

S. ptycanthum (Eastern black nightshade).  Native.  Here are photos and more information from Michigan State University Extension Service.  Listed as toxic in the Plants of Texas Rangelands.

S. rostratum (Buffalobur nightshade).  Native.  Here are photos and more information from Southeastern Arizona Wildflowers.  Listed as toxic to cattle in the Plants of Texas Rangelands.

S. triflorum (Cutleaf nightshade).  Native.  Here are photos and more information from Montana Plant Life which lists it as mildly toxic.

University of Illinois Plants Toxic to Animals lists several of the species of Solanum.

Another plant with the common name of nightshade, not in the Genus Solanum, that occurs in Oklahoma is Circaea lutetiana (Broadleaf enchanter's nightshade).  This plant doesn't appear in any of the poisonous plant databases that I accessed.  It isn't "especially toxic" according to this Wikipedia article.

There are notable exceptions to the toxicity of the Solanum species—the very edible Solanum tuberosum (Irish potato), Solanum melongena (Eggplant) and Solanum lycopersicum (garden tomato) are in the Genus Solanum.   However, even the Irish potato can have some toxicity.  Potatoes that grow too near the surface of the soil and are exposed to sunshine sometimes turn green.   The green portion is potentially toxic.

So, if I were you, I would forego eating the berries or leaves of any of the species of Solanum with the common name of "nightshade".  You might not be able to distinguish between the more deadly ones and the only mildly toxic ones and that would be a risk I certainly wouldn't want to take myself!

 

From the Image Gallery


American black nightshade
Solanum americanum

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Eastern black nightshade
Solanum ptycanthum

Buffalobur nightshade
Solanum rostratum

More Edible Plants Questions

What is a groundnut? from River Vale NJ
July 11, 2009 - I just read the book "Mayflower" which talks about the Massachusetts natives and, subsequently, the Pilgrims eating groundnuts; mentions the groundnuts going to seed in early summer. What are ...
view the full question and answer

Getting rid of invasive Florida betony from Myrtle Beach SC
April 28, 2012 - How can I get rid of Florida Betony from my lawn and flower beds/ garden area. Garden area was thoroughly dug up and hand picked of all tubules last year at least a foot deep. They are much worse now....
view the full question and answer

Controlling Cnidoscolus texanus (Texas bullnettle)
July 18, 2013 - Hello,I need your help to control some nasty weeds in my yard/pasture. I am an old timer and do not have a picture to include—haven't figured out that part of the camera/phone yet. This weed is a pri...
view the full question and answer

Sweet cherry tree for New Mexico
January 23, 2013 - What is the best kind of sweet cherry tree to plant in Santa Fe, NM? I have apple, apricot, peach and pear. Would like cherry unless it is a bad idea.
view the full question and answer

Problems with non-native tomatoes from Spokane WA
August 18, 2012 - I have 2 tomato plants in 1 whiskey barrel, they are in abundance with tomatoes. My problem is when the tomatoes start to ripen, half green & half light red within 1 day the tomatoes are really soft ...
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