IUCN threat status:

Not evaluated

Comprehensive Description

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This rather variable annual plant is native or adventive. It is about 1-3' tall and branches frequently. The stems are more or less hairy, but not prickly. The alternate leaves are up to 3" long and 2" across, with margins that are smooth, undulate, or bluntly dentate. They are usually broadly lanceolate, ovate, or deltoid, with a fine pubescence or scattered short hairs across the surface, especially on the undersides. The petioles are long and slender. The foliage of Black Nightshade is green or dark green. From the upper portion of the stems (rather than the leaf axils), there occasionally develops nodding umbels of white flowers from a short stalk (peduncle) about 1" long. Each umbel has 3-10 flowers. Both the peduncle of the umbel and the pedicels of the flowers are green and finely pubescent. Each flower is about 1/3" across, and consists of a star-like white corolla with 5 tapering lobes that curve backward. Projecting from the center of the corolla, there are 5 stamens with large yellow anthers that are appressed together against the pistil. The green sepals are shaped like blunt triangles.  The blooming period usually occurs during the summer or early fall. A single plant may produce flowers sporadically for about 2 months. Each flower is replaced by a small round berry about 1/3" across. A berry has a smooth surface that is initially green, but later becomes black as it matures. This berry is juicy and contains several flat seeds that are yellow or brown. The root system consists of a slender taproot that branches frequently. This plant spreads by reseeding itself.


Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 (CC BY-NC 3.0)

© John Hilty

Source: Illinois Wildflowers

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