12 responses to “Solanum dulcamara”

  1. Jessica

    One of my favorite garden “weeds”. The beautiful fruit look like clusters of rubies when they are lit by the sun and the purple-and-yellow-flowers are very pretty, too. Thanks for the info about how to use them on cattle and felons! LOL

  2. Wendy Cutler

    Such appealing berries!

    I’m really commenting to say that “felon” in this case is “… an infection in the fleshy part of the fingertip. If left untreated, a felon can cause a buildup of pus, painful pressure, and damage to nearby tissue. Prompt medical attention is needed to prevent complications such as spreading infection or death of nearby tissue.” From https://westhoustonmedical.com/hl/?/941769/Felon. Not a term I’ve ever heard.

  3. Pygge

    This one I love, beautiful berries and nice flowers. Here in Sweden I wouldn’t say that it sprawls over other plants. I’ve often seen it climb on fences next to railway tracks, but it’s more modest and nowhere near 2m.

  4. Richard Old
  5. F. Joseph Peabody

    While working in the herbarium at Kent State University in Ohio (USA) I received a call from the local county coroner asking about red berries that a child allegedly ate who subsequently passed away. He wanted to know the identity of the berries and if they could be responsible for the child’s death. After I asked him some questions about plant features we decided that this was the cause of death – very unfortunate.

  6. Anna Lambe

    I am amazed that so many people describe the flowers and berries of solanum dulcamara as beautiful! As a child I was raised never to touch “deadly nightshade” as it could kill a person, and my mother pulled it up wherever she found it. I taught my children the same rule, but now I am going back to read all the comments here, and try to reprogramme my brain to accept this new concept.

    1. PAT

      Ditto I was taught that the berries were poisonous this is what I know:
      Although this is not the same plant as deadly nightshade or belladonna (an uncommon and extremely poisonous plant), bittersweet nightshade is somewhat poisonous and has caused loss of livestock and pet poisoning and, more rarely, sickness and even death in children who have eaten the berries. Fortunately, bittersweet nightshade has a strong, unpleasant odor, so most animals will avoid it, and poisonings from this plant are not very frequent.

      The entire plant contains solanine, the same toxin found in green potatoes and other members of the nightshade family, and it also contains a glycoside called dulcamarine, similar in structure and effects to atropine, one of the toxins found in deadly nightshade. The toxin amount varies with soil, light, climate and growth stage. Ripe fruits are generally less toxic than the leaves and unripe berries, but even ripe berries can be poisonous.

      1. Pat Collins

        The only analytical reference I can find for dulcamarine is the following from Henrietta’s Herbal :

        Wittstein (1852) supposed another alkaloid, dulcamarine, to be present, but Geissler (1875) showed that this substance was a glucoside, and not an alkaloid, yielding on decomposition with dilute acids dulcamaretin and sugar. He assigned the formula C22H34O10 to dulcamarine, and C16H26O6 to dulcamaretin. (Flückiger, Pharmacographia, 2d ed., p. 451.)

        Of course a nitrogen-free glycoside may be able to mimic the effects of atropine (though I would want to see some sort of reference for that before I would believe it) but cannot be said to resemble it structurally.

        There does appear to a text-book repetition (being repeated since 1852?) where people write that dulcamarine is like atropine in its effects with other authors adding that it is similar in structure to atropine but without attribution to any original research that shows this. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some of the simple tropanes such as calystegines present in Solanum dulcamara but those are very different in structure and action from the more complex tropanes such as atropine.

  7. Pat Collins

    Solanus was the Latin name for the East wind, sometimes called Subsolanus, a direct translation of the Greek ἀπηλιώτης (apheliotes). It was the wind that came from the [direction of the rising] sun. Perhaps those glowing red berries reminded the Ancients of the rising sun, if this was the nightshade that gave rise to the name. Solanus was little talked about compared to the North, South and West winds but he was associated with the season of fruit and grain harvests.

  8. michael aman

    It releases a distinctive, somewhat unpleasant odor when being extirpated from the garden. Something like bruised tomato vines, come to think of it, but not quite so pungent as tomato vine.

  9. Nick Hamilton

    I once ate one of the berries for an experiment and it was not pleasant. My throat felt strange and itchy, some numbness, vertigo, and general malaise. It passed in about half an hour.

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