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solanum nigrum L.
Black or common nightshade
Hierba mora (Spain, Argentina, Uruguay)
Morelle noir (France)
Poison berry (USA, UK)
Tincture of plant
Plantae; Spermatophyta, Angiospermae - Flowering
Plants; Dicotyledonae; Lamiidae / Tubiflorae; Scrophulariales; Solanaceae - Tomato / Potato Family
Allen: Cyclopaedia, V. 9. Jahr: Symp. Codex.
Hale: Tr. N. Y. State Hom. Med. Soc., 1870.
Description of the substance
The Black Nightshade is an annual plant, common and generally distributed in the South of England, less abundant in the North and somewhat infrequent in Scotland. It is one of the most cosmopolitan of wild plants, extending almost over the whole globe.
In this country, it is frequently to be seen by the wayside and is often found on rubbish heaps, but also among growing crops and in damp and shady places. It is sometimes called the Garden Nightshade, because it so often occurs in cultivated ground.
---Description---It rarely grows more than a foot or so in height and is much branched, generally making a bushy-looking mass. It varies much according to the conditions of its growth, both as to the amount of its dull green foliage and the size of its individual leaves, which are egg-shaped and stalked, the outlines bluntly notched or waved. The stem is green and hollow.
The flowers are arranged in clusters at the end of stalks springing from the main stems at the intervals between the leaves, not, as in the Bittersweet, opposite the leaves. They are small and white, resembling those of Bittersweet in form, and are succeeded by small round berries, green at first, but black when ripe. The plant flowers and fruits freely, and in the autumn the masses of black berries are very noticeable; they have, when mature, a very polished surface.
On account of its berries, the Black Nightshade was called by older herbalists 'Petty Morel,' to distinguish it from the Deadly Nightshade, often known as Great Morel. Culpepper says: 'Do not mistake the deadly nightshade for this,' cautiously adding, 'if you know it not, you may then let them both alone.'
In the fourteenth century, we hear of the plant under the name of Petty Morel being used for canker and with Horehound and wine taken for dropsy.
---Part Used---The whole plant, gathered in early autumn, when in both flower and fruit and dried. Also the fresh leaves.
When the plant grows at all in a bunchy mass, strip off the stems singly and dry them under the same conditions as given above for Belladonna leaves, tying several stems together in a bunch, however, spread out fanwise for the air to penetrate to all parts, and hang the bunches over strings, rather than in trays. The bunches should be of uniform size.
Special identification features
Annual branched herb up to 90 cm high, with dull dark
green leaves, juicy, ovate or lanceolate, toothless to
slightly toothed on the margins. Flowers are small and
white with a short-pedicellate and five widely spread
petals. Fruits are small, black when ripe, glossy and
in an umbel (S. americanum) or dull and in a raceme (S.
Solanum americanum and Solanum nigrum are weeds of waste
land, old fields, ditches, and roadsides, fence rows, or
edges of woods and cultivated land.
Solanum americanum is probably of southern Europe origin,
but is now a common weed of waste lands, and edges of
cultivated land in most parts of the world. Solanum
nigrum is established as a weed in similar habitats
(Frohne & Pfänder, 1983)
Poisonous parts of the plant
Solanine, a glyco-alkaloid, is found throughout the plant,
with the highest concentrations in the unripened berries. The
concentration of solanine increases in the leaves as the plant
matures (Cooper & Johnson, 1984). When ripe, the berries are
the least toxic part of the plant and are sometimes eaten
without ill effects (Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk, 1962).