Garden weed with blue black berries?

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


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.


  1. Walter Reeves The Georgia Gardener says:

    I believe it’s black nightshade


    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:

    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.

    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
  11. jane gullan Unregistered says:

    found exactly the same plant in my greenhouse next to my tomatoes,how did it get there? never had this mystery plant before.

    September 7th, 2015 at 11:59 am
  12. Joyce Unregistered says:

    Found this plant in my garden. I grew up knowing it but have forgotten the name. The birds fill my garden and I love it. I used the berries to paint. I have never eaten it, but I know people who eat them. Beautiful plant.

    May 9th, 2016 at 7:23 pm
  13. Sharon Unregistered says:

    I also get that vine with the berries on it It over takes every thing what’s the best way to get rid of it so it don’t grow back

    July 19th, 2016 at 5:02 am
  14. Jane McCarthy Unregistered says:

    I had an empty planter where tomatoes grew previously and this plant started to grow. At first I thought it was a tomato plant because of the similar little berries but when they ripened I was very confused! I haven’t eaten any and I don’t plan to, but it’s weird how this got in the planter and grew on its own.

    July 25th, 2016 at 5:13 pm
  15. Iris H. Unregistered says:

    Does this plant cause skin irritations if brushed up against- like poison ivy, oak, etc.?

    September 9th, 2016 at 8:41 am
  16. Nikki Unregistered says:

    Found this plant in my garden, seems to have grown from between paving slabs, no other plants grow in that area of the garden, I was very concerned, as I have never seen a plant like this before and have four dogs that like to eat plants, I would not eat anything that grows wild if I was unsure of what it was and so the plant has been removed. Hopefully it won’t grow back.

    September 11th, 2016 at 6:57 am
  17. Margaret Unregistered says:

    We noticed this plant in our community garden. I, of course, ate a berry. As reported by Cyd, the berries are sweetish. It’s a funny family, the nightshades. Some are fine and some are a very bad idea. Like others have mentioned, we never had it in the garden before although we have many tomatoes. Nor have I just seen it around here in Albuquerque. Any thoughts on where it might suddenly have come from???

    September 24th, 2016 at 7:52 pm
  18. Mel Nickless Unregistered says:

    Found this in our beds next to ourt tomatoes hoe did it get there ?

    October 2nd, 2016 at 9:39 am
  19. P Unregistered says:

    I’m one of 8 kids & we grew up eating these berries for years. We lived on a farm & collected so many of them at one stage that my mum made them into a pie for us! None of us ever got sick from eating them. I have them in my current garden & actually leave them there for the ladybugs which LOVE them! 🙂

    October 3rd, 2016 at 8:08 am
  20. Akashe Unregistered says:

    I just found these cute little berries under the goat water. They must be the Wonderberry. I had tried to grow them from seeds a couple years ago. Tasty little bursts of sweet and a smigen of tart! They are a wonderful surprise in your mouth.

    December 3rd, 2016 at 4:02 pm

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