Solanum ptycanthum

american black nightshade, common purple nightshade, smallflower nightshade, apple of sodom, glossy nightshade, popolo, herba mora negra


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Margin

entire, dentate, sinuate

Leaf Type


Leaf Shape

lanceolate, oval, ovate, triangular

Growth Form

forb, shrub

Flower Color

purple, white

Flower Month

March - November

Height (meters)

0.1 - 1.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Cultural Information

Seeds germinate well at alternating tempertures of 65-85 degrees F (0-30 C) (Steinbauer et al. 1955). Fresh seed planted in the field should germinate the following spring. In germination tests, seed remained viable for 8 years with no significant loss in viability for 4 years (Dorph-Peterson 1924).

Animal Use

Poisonous to livestock. The following information is for the genus Solanum: Animals that eat its fruit: Wood duck, Sora rail, Eastern white-winged dove, Bobwhite quail, Wild turkey, Cardinal, Catbird, Eastern meadowlark, Mockingbird, Fox sparrow, Golden-crowned sparrow, Swamp sparrow, White-crowned sparrow, Hermit thrush, Brown towee, Raccoon, Eastern skunk, Spotted skunk. Animals that eat its fruit and leaves: Pocket gopher, Moles, Pocket mouse (Martin et al. 1951).

Natural History

The Acadian French name for nightshade is "morelle", which is also the standard French name (Holmes 1990). American nightshade is a weedy plant that grows throughout the United States, especially in the east. It is found in old fields, overgrazed or damaged prairie, roadsides and other disturbed areas. The leaves and green berries are poisonous to humans and livestock. The poisonous element is a glycoside called "solanine" which is especially abundant in the leaves during the months July and August. The symptoms in humans and animals are stupefaction, loss of feeling and consciousness and dilation of pupils. Other possible symptoms are cramps, convulsions, and death from paralysis of the lungs. Mowing is considered a good control method in grazed areas. Solanum ptychanthum is sometimes considered the same as S. americanum (USDA 1998).


Rocky or dry open woods, thickets, shores, openings, cultivated and waste ground, and roadsides.