March 10th, 2012


Latin:  Solanum dulcamara

Irish:  Fuath dubh

This native perennial is a relative of the Potato and the Tomato and is sometimes called Woody Nightshade.   It is a climber without hooks or twining stems that simply climbs by leaning on other plants in hedges, woodland margins and waste places.


The leaves are 4–12cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, dark green to purplish in colour and often lobed at the base. Flowers, with the same form as those on potato and tomato, are produced from June onwards.  They are in branched clusters, each one with 5 purple petals that are curved backwards and surround bright yellow stamens (pollen-producing organs).  Berries are round or egg-shaped and bright red when ripe with numerous yellow, flattened seeds; unripe berries are green.

Although Bittersweet (Woody Nightshade) is not the same plant as Deadly Nightshade it is poisonous.  Leaves and berries contain solanine, the same toxin found in green potatoes and it also contains a glycoside called dulcamarine, similar in structure and effects to atropine, one of the toxins found in Deadly Nightshade. Although fatal human poisonings are rare, several cases have been documented so it is a plant that ought to be treated with caution.


Found on the avenue and in many of the hedgerows and waste areas around the course.

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