Host an Event Volunteer Join Tickets

Suppport the plant database you love!

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

Please forgive us, but Mr. Smarty Plants has been overwhelmed by a flood of mail and must take a break for awhile to catch up. We hope to be accepting new questions again soon. Thank you!

Need help with plant identification, visit the plant identification page.

 
rate this answer
Not Yet Rated

Tuesday - April 24, 2012

From: Williamsville, NY
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification
Title: Identity of plant with purple flower and tomato-like fruit
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

Along the Lake Erie shoreline in Buffalo there is a summer blooming plant with a purple flower and hard flattened tomato like fruit, diameter of a quarter. It has pretty small green leaves with fine ridges/teeth. We have photos that we'll try to attach. Thanks for your help.

ANSWER:

This sounds like the North American native, Solanum carolinense (Carolina horse-nettle).  Here are more photos and information from Connecticut Wildflowers, Missouri Plants and from the USDA Plants Database.  On the USDA Plants Database, if you click on New York, you can see the county distribution for the state.

A non-native introduced species, Solanum dulcamara (Climbing nightshade), is also a possibility.  Here are more photos and information from Missouri Plants.

As you learned, you can't attach photos to your question on Mr. Smarty Plants.  We can no longer accept photos for identification because we were completely overwhelmed with requests and we do not have adequate staff or volunteers to try to identify all the requests we received. We do, however, have links to several plant identifcation forums on our Plant Identification page that will accept photos for identification.

Also, you can try a search in our Native Plant Database using the COMBINATION SEARCH option and entering "New York" in the Select State or Province box, "Herb" in the Habit (general appearance), and select "Purple" and "Violet" under Bloom Color.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Carolina horsenettle
Solanum carolinense

Carolina horsenettle
Solanum carolinense

More Plant Identification Questions

Control of Smilax bona-nox (saw greenbrier)
June 15, 2007 - We have some property near Round Mountain, Texas. Under and in the oak trees is a vine that has a heart-shaped, shiny leaf and nasty thorns. I'd like to know the name and how best to try to get rid...
view the full question and answer

Weed identification
February 27, 2012 - Weeds / Wildflower. I dream of a photo identification for weeds / wildflowers that pop up in my garden here in Austin, Texas. Maybe I don't want to pull them up. How do I know? Do you know of a b...
view the full question and answer

Identification of possible wild plums thickets
May 19, 2008 - I have several "thickets" of small shrub/bushes on my land that I hunt on. These small trees are usually 5-7 feet tall, always grow in thickets of ten to up to sixty or so bushes. They are always lo...
view the full question and answer

Plant identification
July 05, 2009 - Large leaf plant over 5 feet tall red stems and purple almost black flat berries in large clumps. Any idea?
view the full question and answer

Identification of plant in Illinois
August 13, 2007 - I've found a plant that I cannot identify. The plant is is very short, 2 inches tall maybe, and has very fragile, thin leaves and stem. The leaves about 1" long, are pinnate, with about 20 leaflets ...
view the full question and answer

Support the Wildflower Center by Donating Online or Becoming a Member today.