Person holding bittersweet nightshade flowers.
Bittersweet nightshade flowers. Photo Credit: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org
Bittersweet leaves and berries
Bittersweet nightshade berries and leaves
Bittersweet nightshade berries.
Bittersweet nightshade leaves. Photo Credit: Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, Bugwood.org
Bittersweet nightshade infestaion.
Also known as: European nightshade, nightshade, bitter nightshade, climbing nightshade
Bittersweet nightshade’s crushed leaves and bark have a very unpleasant smell. This slender perennial vine or semi-woody shrub thrives in habitats that are near water. The entire plant is toxic to people, pets and livestock and its attractive berries are particularly dangerous for children.
For a more detailed description, download the Bittersweet Nightshade Best Management Practices factsheet.
|Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:
|Can grow up to 6 feet (2 meters) tall if supported by other plants or obstacles.
|Leaves are dark green to purple-tinged. They often have one or two small, ear-like lobes near their base.
|Fruit & Flower Description:
|Star-shaped flowers have purple petals with a prominent yellow cone-shaped center.
Flowers are followed by round berries that ripen from green, to orange, to bright red.
|May to November
How it spreads:
- New plants will re-sprout from roots and root fragments.
- It produces berries May-November. Its seeds are dispersed across wide areas by birds that eat its berries.
- Bittersweet nightshade can be found in habitats associated with water such as creeks, marshes, and wetlands. It can also survive along field edges, gardens, and roadsides.
- It grows in full sun and full shady environments.
- Bittersweet nightshade’s berries are poisonous to humans, pets, and livestock. Ripe berries are generally less toxic than the leaves and unripen berries, but even they can be poisonous.
- It can become so prolific that it can grow into creeks, creating a false gravel bed that interferes with fish movement.
- Its dense growth can suppress native shrubs and small trees such as willows and alders.
What you can do about it:
- Manual: Bittersweet nightshade can be controlled manually by pulling or digging up its roots. This is easier to accomplish when the ground is wet or loose, typically fall through early spring in Washington County.
- Dispose of all plant material in a tied plastic bag and throw it away in the trash – not the yard debris or home compost.
- After removing large infestations, replanting desirable plants is needed to minimize reinfestation.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:
|State of Washington:
University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: Silverleaf nightshade