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Black nightshade?

 
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Hello! This is my first post at Permies, so I hope I'm posting this in an appropriate forum. I wanted to post this in "Living," since it's a potential medicinal herb, but only got "ergonomics" and "toxin-ectomy" as choices for forums--neither of which fit. So, since I am a beginning gardener, here I go!

I found this plant growing in my (future) garden with leaves that remind me of tomato leaves, small white flowers, and bunches of black berries that are matte but also kind of shiny at the same time. The plant is about a foot tall, herbaceous. An online search tells me this is probably black nightshade, which apparently is not toxic and may even be used in food or medicine? I don't want to inadvertently remove it if it's useful! But of course I don't want to leave it if it's poison; the puppy tends to sample everything she can get her mouth on. :/

Attaching three photos with leaves, berries, and flowers.

Thank you!
--Christie
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steward
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I grew black nightshade one summer. Someone sent me seeds saying that it was potatoes that have black berries.  I planted about 25 plants. I didn't know the species name at the time. I tasted a few of them all summer long. They were sweet and fine to eat. Then, in the fall,  I decided to harvest seeds from them. And like I always do when saving seeds, I tasted fruits from each plant to make sure that I like the taste of the mother plant. So I ate about 300 berries while tasting. Six hours later, I woke up in the middle of the night, with the worst stomach pain in decades. Rats... So I got online, and keyed out the species of the plant, and read that poisoning symptoms appear six hours after ingesting. So being an anarchist, I went back to bed, figuring that I'd either die or recover. Before doing so however, I took a marker and wrote the name of the plant on my chest: Solanum nigrum.

Edit to add: The next day, I went to my field, and to my seed stash, and purged every trace of the plant from my farm. It hasn't reappeared.
 
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It's a fairly useful herb, if used correctly. But it can have severe effects if consumed to excess or incorrectly. We would move it someplace that keeps it happy, but is out of reach of children and other useful animals.
 
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Jim Fry wrote:It's a fairly useful herb, if used correctly. But it can have severe effects if consumed to excess or incorrectly. We would move it someplace that keeps it happy, but is out of reach of children and other useful animals.



What are it's uses? I have a good amount of it growing.
 
pollinator
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With the hundreds of non-poisonous plants available, it seems risky to have something like this where there are pets or children.

I've seen quite a few threads where people go to great lengths, to take something poisonous and make it edible through various processes. Pokeweed comes to mind. With all the effort that goes into making it somewhat edible, those eating it could have put that time into growing chard, or beans that don't require massive processing and caution about poisoning.

"Look at me, I didn't die," seems to be the motivation. I eat every day, and never have to consider whether or not I'm taking a toxic dose, since I don't eat those things.
 
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If you want a suitable substitute try wonderberries.
Same family, sweet berries, self sowing,hard to get rid of.
 
pollinator
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Could they possibly be garden huckleberries, an edible nightshade?
 
steward
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I don't think the leaves are quite righte for garden huckleberries. The fruit structure is the same though. I would defer to Joseph Lofthouse. He has experience in growing both.
 
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These are popping up in my garden this year.
I did some online research,

Our American Nightshade is Solanum americanum, not nigrum.
Good 'ole Wikipedia has a great article on it https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_americanum
German Wiki has a great article on S. nigrum and tries to pinpoint the cause of S.n and S. a's dual nature.
Translated from the German wiki page on Solanum nigrum: Due to the high content of alkaloids , especially in the immature berries, the plant is often categorized as a poisonous plant, but ripe berries and the leaves are used as vegetables in some parts of the world. Include all parts of the black nightshade which the glyco alkaloids attributed to steroid alkaloids solanine , Solasonine , solamargine and chaconine, The concentration of these substances varies very strongly and is probably dependent on the climate and type of soil in which the plant grows, in addition the concentration decreases with increasing age of the plant. This explains why there are numerous evidence that either categorize the plant as a poisonous plant or describe it as a foodstuff. In fresh leaves, 1 mg / 100 g of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) was detected. [1]

There is a book about Nightshades I found FREE online. https://books.google.com/books?id=nfau8bsLyUUC&lpg=PA5&ots=KirxF8-AYT&dq=solanum+nigrum+medicinal+uses&lr=&pg=PP1&hl=en#v=onepage&q=solanum%20nigrum%20medicinal%20uses&f=false

The USDA site:https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=SOAM
Calflora: https://www.calflora.org/cgi-bin/species_query.cgi?where-calrecnum=7647


In German, the name translates into Black Night Shadows which sounds very poetic.

I hope this helps!

liz
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Joylynn Hardesty wrote:I don't think the leaves are quite righte for garden huckleberries. The fruit structure is the same though. I would defer to Joseph Lofthouse. He has experience in growing both.



I consider both species to be unfit for human consumption.
 
Joylynn Hardesty
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
I consider both species to be unfit for human consumption.




Oh. We quite enjoyed our garden huckleberries a couple years ago. Though the quantity per meal was likely under 50 for each of us. I think they were in cooked dishes as well. We did munch a few here and there raw in the garden. We did not experience any problems.

I tool a look around, and there are different Latin names associated with "garden huckleberries". So there is confusion. I would leave any unknown plants alone now, and only use those plants I am sure of their origin. For me, that means from a seed company, or self saved seeds.

Again, the leaves do not quite match the ones I grew from a seed company.
 
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If only I could know where they were growing, it would be easier for me to identify them. The plant looks like Solanum nigrum rather than Solanum americanum ,Solanum douglasii, Solanum furcatum, or Solanum interius. There are several lookalike species in the Solanum nigrum complex of species, but I am only aware of the edibility of Solanum nigrum, Solanum americanum, and Solanum ptychanthum. Only the fully ripe black berries and the young leaves are edible for the previously mentioned three species. Wait for the fruits to come off with a slight tug or to fall to the ground before eating them. I have gotten nausea and indigenstion the following morning after eating paritally ripened berries of Solanum ptychanthum. I do not know the preparation required to eat the leaves, but for very young plants, the leaves can be eaten at least when properly cooked, but it may be possible to eat the raw leaves of at least some cultivated varieties. Make sure you know for sure what plant you have before eating.
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Solanum+nigrum

Some confusion about this plant's edibility may be the confusion of it with the similar Atropa belladonna. This plant can be differentiated from Solanum nigrum by its very shiny black berries that grow individually rather than in clusters. The calyx of A. belladonna also covers much of the fruit unlike Solanum nigrum. This toxic plant does not grow widely in North America except along the east and west coasts, but it is more common in Europe. I have never found it growing where I live in Ohio in the midwest.
https://pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Atropa+belladonna
 
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