Solanum sarrachoides Sendtn.

Hairy Nightshade


CC = *
CW = 5
MOC = 30

© SRTurner

Family - Solanaceae

Habit - Taprooted annual or short-lived perennial forb.

Stems - Erect to ascending or trailing, to 60 cm, herbaceous, fragrant with a pungent sweet scent, densely pubescent with short, spreading, multicellular, gland-tipped hairs and scattered, longer, spreading, often nonglandular hairs; unarmed, somewhat sticky.

Leaves - Alternate, simple, petiolate. Petioles to 3.5 cm long, densely glandular-pubescent, often narrowly winged above the midpoint. Blades 1-8 cm long, simple, ovate, oblong-ovate, or triangular-ovate, angled or tapered to a usually sharply pointed tip, angled to rounded or occasionally truncate to slightly cordate at the base, the margins entire or more commonly wavy to bluntly toothed, the surfaces moderately to densely pubescent with short, spreading, multicellular, gland-tipped hairs, somewhat sticky.

Solanum_sarrachoides_leaf.jpg Pressed leaf.

© DETenaglia

Inflorescence - Axillary umbels of 3-5 flowers, the stalks nearly equal, to 6 mm long, glandular-pubescent, thickened toward the tips. Flowers spreading to more or less pendent. Peduncles 5-6 mm long, glandular-pubescent.

Flowers - Calyces 3-6 mm long at flowering, becoming enlarged to 6-11 mm at fruiting, 5-lobed to below the midpoint, the lobes equal, oblong-lanceolate, the outer surface densely glandular-hairy. Corollas 5-8 mm long, white to pale cream-colored, usually yellow to yellowish green in the throat, lobed to at or above the midpoint, the lobes broadly triangular, spreading at full flowering, the inner surface glabrous, the outer surface minutely nonglandular-hairy, especially toward the tip. Stamens 5, the anthers 1.6-2.0 mm long, yellow, oblong, lacking a sterile tip, dehiscing by terminal pores. Ovary green, glabrous, 1.2 mm in diameter, 2-locular, the style not or only slightly exserted from the anther ring, densely pubescent near the stigma.

Solanum_sarrachoides_flowers.jpg Flowers.

© SRTurner

Solanum_sarrachoides_flower.jpg Corolla.

© DETenaglia

Fruits - Globose berries 0.6-0.8 cm long, the basal half closely cupped by the persistent calyx tube, usually with 4-6 stony granules, the surface glabrous, olive green to brownish green at full maturity, shiny when young, but dull at maturity, when immature often with scattered, small white flecks or lighter mottling. Seeds 1.3-1.5 mm in longest dimension, broadly obovate to nearly circular in outline, often minutely notched at the attachment point, moderately to strongly flattened, unwinged, the surface faintly and minutely pitted, often appearing nearly smooth, yellow.

Solanum_sarrachoides_fruits.jpg Fruits.

© DETenaglia

Flowering - July - October.

Habitat - Streambanks, bottomland forests, glades, pastures, fencerows, farmyards, gardens, railroads, roadsides, open disturbed areas.

Origin - Native to South America.

Lookalikes - S. ptychanthum, S. americanum.

Other info. - Steyermark knew this plant only from the St. Louis railyards. Since that time it has expanded its range in Missouri to include a number of counties mostly south of the Missouri River. It is generally uncommon (or perhaps under-recognized) in the continental U.S., reported from only a few eastern-central states. Its appearance is similar to the much more common black nightshade (S. ptychanthum), except that the foliage is glandular-hairy and somewhat sticky or clammy to the touch.

Although toxicity information on this plant is not readily available, it belongs to a family known to contain numerous toxic species. The plant was apparently responsible for the poisoning deaths of two lemurs in a California zoo. Appropriate caution should be exercised.

Photographs taken at Dave Rock Conservation Area, St. Clair County, MO., 7-27-00 (DETenaglia); also at Klondike County Park, St. Charles County, MO, 8-13-2011, and the St. Louis Zoo, St. Louis County, MO, 6-11-2019 (SRTurner).