Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Black/Common Nightshade

I was walking out the front of our house the other day and happened to spot a weed looking plant that had black berries on it. Intrigued I asked a friend and was told it was probably part of the Nightshade family. I took some photos and did myself an internet photo comparison and discovered that it was in fact Black Nightshade (also known as Common Nightshade). A witchy plant growing roadside out the front of my house – it’s kind of nifty. At this point I am not planning to do anything with it, I am far from along enough in my Herbalism studies or knowledge to use it for anything but I do know it can be used in witchy ways so perhaps later on I shall delve into the arena of working with poisons – just not yet, although the poison path does fascinate me.

Here are some of the photos I took:





Some information on Black/Common Nightshade from Wikipedia:

Solanum nigrum (European Black Nightshade or locally just "black nightshade", Duscle, Garden Nightshade, Hound's Berry, Petty Morel, Wonder Berry, Small-fruited black nightshade or popolo) is a species in the Solanum genus, native to Eurasia and introduced in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa. Parts of this plant can be highly toxic to livestock and humans, and it's considered a weed. Nonetheless, ripe berries and cooked leaves are used as food in some locales; and plant parts are used as a traditional medicine. There is a tendency in literature to incorrectly refer to many of the other 'black nightshade' species as 'Solanum nigrum' .

Black nightshade is a fairly common herb or short-lived perennial shrub, found in many wooded areas, as well as disturbed habitats. It has a height of 30–120 cm (12-48"), leaves 4-7.5 cm (1 1/2-3") long) and 2–5 cm wide (1-2 1/2"); ovate to heart-shaped, with wavy or large-toothed edges; both surfaces hairy or hairless; petiole 1–3 cm (1/2-1") long with a winged upper portion. The flowers have petals greenish to whitish, recurved when aged and surround prominent bright yellow anthers. The berry is mostly 6–8 mm (1/4-3/4") diam., dull black or purple-black. In India, another strain is found with berries that turn red when ripe.

Sometimes Solanum nigrum is confused for deadly nightshade, a different Solanaceae species altogether. A comparison of the fruit shows that the black nightshade berries grow in bunches, the deadly nightshade berries grow individually.

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