New Zealand Status: Introduced
Conservation Status: Naturalised
Solanum nigrum, commonly known as Black Nightshade, is an annual or short-lived perennial herb that grows to 750mm tall becoming bushy when mature. All parts of this plant are mildly poisonous. It is often mistakenly called 'deadly nightshade' however deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is very rare in New Zealand.
Solanum nigrum stems are green to dark purple. Leaves are medium to dark green, oval, pointed at the end, up to 120mm long by 70mm wide, with entire or shallowly lobed margins. The flowers have five pointed white or pale mauve petals, up to 13 mm in diameter, and a central column of fused yellow anthers. The flowers form umbel-like inflorescences with 5 to 10 flowers on stalks up to 25mm long. Flowering is from October to May. Fruits are globular berries 7 to 10mm in diameter that are green initially and turn glossy black when ripe.
Black nightshade is a common weed that is found in arable land, disturbed pasture, gardens and waste areas throughout New Zealand.
© Geografpix Photography, Steve Reader