Solanum carolinense

carolina nightshade, carolina horsenettle, horsenettle, apple of sodom, bull nettle, devil's tomato, sand briar, carolina horse-nettle, ball-nettle


Leaf Arrangement


Leaf Attachment


Leaf Margin


Leaf Type


Leaf Shape

oblong, elliptic, lanceolate, ovate

Growth Form

forb, shrub

Flower Color

blue, purple, white

Flower Month

April - October

Height (meters)

0.2 - 1.0

Milky Sap








Growing Season

Warm season

Wetland Class


Prairie Coefficient of Conservatism


Field Characters

May be distinguished from similar species by its yellowish spines and many star-shaped, 4- to 8-branched hairs on its stems and leaves.

Cultural Information

Seeds germinate well at alternating temperatures of 65-85 degrees F (20-35 C) (Brown and Porter 1942). Light appears to improve germination under some conditions but is not necessary for germination (Everson 1949, Ilnicki et al. 1962, and Rodgers and Stearns 1955). Seeds should be planted at a depth of 1".

Animal Use

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). Solanum carolinense is called "tomate marronne", or "wild tomato", because of its fruit. The fruit is considered poisonous and should never be tasted (Holmes 1990). Carolina nightshade is a warm-season perennial forb which reproduces by seed and vigorous creeping rootstocks. It grows on a variety of soils east of the 20-inch rainfall belt but is most abundant on light textured soils in the eastern United States. It is an invasive species in cultivated fields and other disturbed areas. It is commonly controlled with chemical sprays but maintaining high soil fertility and a vigorous stand of perennials will control it. It is a member of the nightshade family and is a host of the Colorado potato beetle. The genus Solanum includes 1000 species and/or forms worldwide, including many cultivated species.


Fields, open woodlands, waste places, sandy or light soils.