Deadly nightshade flowers. Photo Credit: David Cappaert, Bugwood.org
Deadly nightshade leaves. Photo Credit: Mary Ellen (Mel) Harte, Bugwood.org
Also known as: European nightshade, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, climbing nightshade
Deadly 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.
|Life Cycle:||Perennial (life cycle lasts more than one year)|
|Early Detection and Rapid Response species:||No|
|Height:||Can grow up to 3 – 6 feet tall (1 – 2 meters) if supported by other plants or obstacles|
|Leaf Description:||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.
|Bloom Time:||May to November|
- Deadly 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.
- Deadly 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:
- Deadly 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.
- After removing large infestations, replanting desirable species is needed to minimize reinfestation.
Noxious Weed Listing:
|State of Oregon:||Not Listed|
|State of Washington:||Not Listed|
Download the Deadly Nightshade Best Management Practices Factsheet
University of California, Weed Research & Information Center: Silverleaf nightshade