Garden weed with blue black berries?

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Date Photo Taken: 08/19/2012
Location: Toronto, Canada
Posted By: edyb

Notes:

I found this plant among my tomatoes. It looks like a weed of some kind but I’ve never come across one with so many distinct little bluish black round berries. I wonder if they are edible or poisonous, and if it is something worth cultivating. The flowers are really small white with yellow centers and really not that interesting. If not for the berries, it would never have caught my attention.

COMMENTS

  1. Walter Reeves The Georgia Gardener says:

    I believe it’s black nightshade

    see http://www.walterreeves.com/gardening-q-and-a/black-nightshade-poisonous/

    August 20th, 2012 at 9:02 am
  2. edyb Unregistered says:

    Thanks. Did a bit more research. Likely to be “solanum ptychanthum” or Eastern Black Nightshade, also known as West Indian Nightshade. The ripe berries are NOT poisonous, but contain solanine which if taken in too high doses can upset the stomach.

    NOT to be confused with “atropa belladonna” which is Deadly Nightshade. They do look different. The flowers and the arrangement of berries look different, and that plant is very poisonous.

    I had 3 of the ripe dark purple/black berries yesterday and they tasted ok. I am still alive and feel fine. However I did my research and consulted many resources to correctly identify the plant, including your website which is excellent!

    Here is another good summary:

    http://foragersharvest.com/black-nightshade-2/

    August 25th, 2012 at 2:19 pm
  3. Pete Moss Unregistered says:

    edyb, just thought your comment was a bit ambiguous in regards to the toxicity of solanine. Just to clarify: solanine can cause more than stomach upsets – it’s potentially fatal. While i’m not personally acquainted with Solanum ptychanthum, i am experienced with other nightshade species which contain variable levels of solanine in: ripe berries, unripe berries and leaves. And solanine in nightshades can reach toxic levels and there have been cases of fatal poisoning from nightshades. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanine

    June 27th, 2013 at 11:51 pm
  4. Arthur Haines Unregistered says:

    As has been stated, this is a species of Solanum in the “black nightshade complex”. It is likely Solanum ptycanthum, but hard to know for sure without examining the actual plant. The berries are not poisonous, they are edible and species in the group are eaten around the world (I’ve personally eaten them many times and in quantity). The problem is that the toxicity (i.e., danger) of wild plants is highly exaggerated and often the reports are just flat out incorrect. The young leaves of this plant are also edible (but because this is a “nightshade”, authors assume it to be poisonous). Best wishes.

    July 11th, 2013 at 11:12 am
  5. GDI Unregistered says:

    I recently found this in my backyard in Houston, Texas. I have never seen it before, a bird must have eaten a berry and out it eventually comes and the seeds came alive!

    October 13th, 2014 at 7:08 pm
  6. Lee Phillips Unregistered says:

    I recommended if its near your tomatoes to move it because its a great plant for birds they really do love the berries on the plant. If you like birds its a great feeder plant and they will visit just for those berries. It can make cats and dogs sick if ingested and we can handle the berries a bit better but still can harm us too. I keep mine because the birds as my cat is indoors but its not a highly toxic form of nightshade.

    May 21st, 2015 at 5:19 pm
  7. MaryG Unregistered says:

    There is a commercially available berry in this family called Sunberry or Wonderberry. Luther (?) Burbank was the discoverer/cultivator, and the Latin name I believe includes Burbankii as part of the name. They are very elible, though so small that I’m not sure they are worth cultivating. I agree with Lee that the birds love them. They are a good distraction from other plants and a way to get the birds near the tomatos to spot the occasional hornworm. These readily reseed, so if you are trying to get rid of them, plan to pull up seedlings for a year or two to come.

    July 7th, 2015 at 7:29 am
  8. Cyd Peace Unregistered says:

    Just like the opening – I found these plants today behind my tomatoes. Thanks for all the info. I’ve eaten several. The flavor is sweet but definitely different. Even a tad spicy. I’d like to try putting them in a recipe of some kind. See you in the morning (maybe) :)

    August 21st, 2015 at 2:54 am
  9. Joan Unregistered says:

    Thanks — good looking berries, but I’ll toss rather than eat.

    August 21st, 2015 at 5:39 pm
  10. Cyd Peace Unregistered says:

    Still alive!

    August 22nd, 2015 at 12:32 am

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