En EspaŅol
Share

Ask Mr. Smarty Plants

Mr. Smarty Plants - Is it quantity that makes silver nightshade poisonous to people?

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 - September 18, 2012

From: Sedalia, CO
Region: Rocky Mountain
Topic: Poisonous Plants
Title: Is it quantity that makes silver nightshade poisonous to people?
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

I have a recipe for Asadero cheese that uses silverleaf nightshade and have eaten this cheese many times. Is it too much quantity that makes it poisonous to people?

ANSWER:

Solanum elaeagnifolium (Silverleaf nightshade), is called in our Native Plant Database "an aggressive, poisonous weed...".  It isn't listed in Poisonous Plants of North Carolina (probably because silver nightshade isn't prevalent in the Eastern US), but the closely related Solanum carolinense (Carolina horse-nettle) is listed as Toxic Only If Large Quantities Eaten.  Silver nightshade is listed in the Plants of Texas Rangelands as a toxic agent that:

"...has reportedly poisoned horses, sheep, goats, cattle and humans. However, sheep and goats are more resistant than cattle, and in controlled experiments, goats were not poisoned at all. Its toxic agent is solanine. The leaves and fruit are toxic at all stages of maturity; the highest concentration is in ripe fruits. In some instances, an animal can be poisoned by eating 0.1 to 0.3 percent of its weight in silverleaf nightshade."

The California Poison Control System gives all the Solanum species a Toxicity Rating of 1, meaning that the plants in the Genus Solanum "may cause serious illness or death".

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. They also say 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 (and in contradiction of Plants of Texas Rangelands information).  They also mention that silver nightshade can be poisonous at only 0.1% of the body weight.

Pennsylvania Poisonous Plants Database doesn't list S. eleagnifolium, but does list S. carolinense, S. nigurm [synonym=Solanum americanum (American black nightshade) and S. dulcamara (Bittersweet nightshade). S. tuberosum (potato) is also included for the potential of poisoning from potatoes with skins that have turned green due to sun exposure from growing too near the surface.

You can see my answer to a recent question about S. americanum (American black nightshade) and my advice about eating just one berry.  I don't know what part of the silver nightshade you are thinking of using in making your cheese, but my advice to you is to read the information about the toxicity of all the Solanum species and use extreme caution before trying even a small amount of the plant.   In fact, if I were you, I would avoid consuming even a small amount of it.

 

From the Image Gallery


Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

Silverleaf nightshade
Solanum elaeagnifolium

More Poisonous Plants Questions

Are Eve's Necklace seeds poisonous to dogs from Plano TX
May 09, 2013 - Are the seed pods on eve's necklace poisionous to dogs?
view the full question and answer

Plant identification in Georgia
September 14, 2011 - I saw the same question that I was going to ask about the plant that folds its leaves at dusk, with sparse branches, rapid growth, small yellow flowers and long (whisker-like, but do not appear to be ...
view the full question and answer

Remedy for sore finger scratched by an Agave plant
October 18, 2013 - I scratched my ring finger on a Agave plant this afternoon. It did bring blood to the surface and i washed it off. Where the scratch is, is very tender and it is swollen and tingles. Any suggestions f...
view the full question and answer

Different colors of Argemone spp. from McAllen TX
March 16, 2014 - I took pictures of at least 5 colors of pricklepoppy today. Is this common to have so many colors in one area? How do I harvest the seedpods and when is the best time to do so?
view the full question and answer

Poisonous weeds in Bedford County, PA
June 21, 2010 - I am battling my second bad round of poison in a month, this time on my face and in my left eye. It's awful. Problem is, I have looked and looked for poison ivy, oak and sumac around my neighborhoo...
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