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Marcus, Joseph A.
Solanum elaeagnifolium Cav.
Silverleaf nightshade, Silver-leaf nightshade, White horse nettle, Trompillo, Tomato weed
USDA Symbol: soel
There are several species of horse nettle, all of which have star-shaped blossoms with prominent petals, flat or turned backward, and yellow stamens. Almost all of them are prickly. Flowers of the various species are blue, purple, yellow, or white.
White horse nettle gets its name from its covering of silvery hairs, among which are the nettle-like prickles. It grows 1–3 feet tall. The leaves are 2–4 inches long, with wavy edges. Flowers are violet-purple or white, about 3/4 inch across, with 5 petal-like lobes that are joined at the base, forming a triangular shape at the tip of each lobe. All of them have the prominent, bright yellow stamens that distinguish all the horse nettles. The yellow fruits resemble small tomatoes and remain on the plant for months. They are said to be poisonous.
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.
The genus name, from the Latin solamen (quieting), alludes to the narcotic properties of many species. This species is also known as Bullnettle.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep , Oct
, WA Native Distribution:
Across southern half of United States and in northern Mexico; in West, north to Washington, Idaho, Colorado, and Nebraska. Native Habitat:
Prairie, Plains, Meadows, Pastures, Savannahs
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Low Light Requirement:
Sun Soil Moisture:
Dry Soil pH:
Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2) Soil Description:
Clay Loam, Medium Loam, Sandy Loam, Sandy. Conditions Comments:
Considered weedy by some due to its common appearance in the landscape and ability to reseed, Silver-leaf Nightshade is non-the-less an attractive plant. Once established, it needs no supplemental watering to survive, although extra water may increase blooming. Yellow fruit
are 3/4 wide with green stripes and look good in flower
arrangements but are toxic
Wildflower meadow Use Medicinal:
Used for rattlesnake bite - root chewed by medicine man, who then sucks on the wound to remove venom, then more root is chewed and applied to swollen area. (Steiner)
Americans used the crushed berries to curdle milk in making cheese, and the berries have also been used in various preparations for treating sore throat and toothache. Warning:
Berries and all parts of this plant are poisonous. Conspicuous Flowers:
PropagationPropagation Material: Seeds
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Herbarium Specimen(s)NPSOT 0387
Collected May 14, 1987 in Bexar County by Harry CliffeNPSOT 0029
Collected Sept. 20, 1990 in Bexar County by Judith C. BerryNPSOT 0050
Collected May 4, 1990 in Bexar County by Lottie MillsapsNPSOT 0014
Collected May 14, 1990 in Bexar County by Judith C. BerryNPSOT 0393
Collected May 23, 1993 in Comal County by Mary Beth WhiteNPSOT 0958
Collected Sep 18, 1994 in Bexar County by Harry Cliffe
Record Last Modified: 2008-06-25
Research By: NPC