Solanum dulcamara, Bittersweet Nightshade

Gardens & Landscapes, Invasive Species, Extension Master Gardener December 16, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Invasive Species: Solanum dulcamara, Bittersweet Nightshade

Bittersweet nightshade is an invasive perennial plant native to Eurasia. Plants can reach up to 6.6 ft. (2 m) tall, either erect or clambering. Leaves are petiolate, alternate, three-lobed (upper part of the stem), acuminate, and up to 3.1 in. (8 cm) long. Flowering occurs in May to November when purple flowers develop. Petals are recurved and up to 0.4 in. (9 mm) long. Stamens (5) are bright yellow and fused together around the stigma. Mature fruits are berries that are red, shiny, and 0.4 in. (1 cm) long. Plants invade thickets, fence rows, pond margins, low woods, and roadsides. All parts of the plants are toxic.

What are invasive species and why should we be concerned about them? 


Taxonomy: Scientific and Common Names for This Species

Solanales > Solanaceae > Solanum dulcamara L.

Synonym(s): climbing nightshade, blue nightshade, European bittersweet, fellenwort, woody nightshade

Solanum dulcamara - USDA PLANTS Profile

Distribution Maps

Bittersweet nightshade - The reported distribution of this invasive species across the United States. (Source: Invasive Plant Atlas of the United States)

Up-to-the-minute distribution maps and why they are important

Reporting This Invasive Species

What is the best way and place to report the occurrence of an invasive species? 

 How to report an invasive species sighting to EDDMapS - Early Detection & Distribution Mapping System

EDDMapS - Report an invasive species to EDDMapS

Cooperative Extension Offices - Find your local Cooperative Extension office on this map provided by USDA

How to Identify

This invasive species can be identified by looking for the characteristics described in the paragraphs that follow.

Plant

An invasive perennial plant native to Eurasia. Plants can reach up to 6.6 ft. (2 m) tall, either erect or clambering.

bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) bittersweet nightshade
Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut, bugwood.org

Foliage

Leaves are petiolate, alternate, three-lobed (upper part of the stem), acuminate, and up to 3.1 in. (8 cm) long.

bittersweet nightshade bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
Theodore Webster, USDA Agricultural Research Service, bugwood.org John Cardina, The Ohio State University, bugwood.org

Flower

Flowering occurs in May to November when purple flowers develop. Petals are recurved and up to 0.4 in. (9 mm) long. Stamens (5) are bright yellow and fused together around the stigma.

bittersweet nightshade

bittersweet nightshade

Rob Routledge, Sault College,bugwood.org

David Cappaert, Michigan State University, bugwood.org

Fruit

Mature fruits are berries that are red, shiny, and 0.4 in. (1 cm) long.

bittersweet nightshade bittersweet nightshade


Leslie J. Mehrhoff, University of Connecticut,
bugwood.org

John Cardina, The Ohio State University, bugwood.org

Native Species That Resemble Bittersweet Nightshade

 

Solanum triflorum, cutleaf nightshade - Images at invasive.org

This species is native to the United States but can be considered nonnative to areas of Canada.

cutleaf nightshade Richard Old, XID Services, Inc., bugwood.org
Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, bugwood.org

 

- Images at invasive.org

   
bugwood.org bugwood.org

 

Additional Images for Bittersweet Nightshade

Bittersweet nightshade - Images at Invasive.org

 

Learning Resources for Bittersweet Nightshade

 

Additional Information, Biology, Control and Management Resources

Control and management recommendations vary according to individual circumstances. Location, habitat, weather, and a variety of other conditions are factors that help determine the best treatment choice. To find the safest and most effective treatment for your situation, consult your state's land-grant institution. If you will use chemicals as part of the control process, always refer to the product label.

United States Land-Grant University System - Find your land-grant university's College of Agriculture, Cooperative Extension Service, or other related partner on this map provided by USDA.

Invasive Plant Atlas of New England - EDDMapS

Weed of the Week - USDA Forest Service

Noxious Weeds - King County

Fire Effects Information System - USDA Forest Service

Species Details - The Natural History Museum

Ohio Perennial & Biennial Weed Guide - Ohio State University

Jepson Herbarium - University of California


 

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This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.