Solanum carolinense

Lindsay Bourque wrote today’s entry:

Thank you to BlueRidgeKitties@Flickr for submitting today’s photo
(original image | Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool)!

As noted by the photographer on Flickr, Carolina horsenettle is in fact not a nettle, but instead belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. Members of the Solanaceae are known for producing a diverse range of alkaloids, some of which can be toxic. In the case of Solanum carolinense, all parts of the plant contain solanine. Solanine is poisonous to humans and can irritate skin, causing a nettle-like rash. Given that the fruits of this plant look like small tomatoes, it is important not to mistake it!

Carolina horsenettle is considered to be a noxious weed in several states in the USA. It has the ability to spread vegetatively via underground rhizomes, as well as propagate by seed. Carolina horsenettle’s status as a weed is further bolstered by the fact that is resistant to many herbicides; in fact, use of herbicides will often give horsenettle the advantage by removing competing weeds.

Solanum carolinense

11 responses to “Solanum carolinense”

  1. Dottie

    An amazing plant. I have more respect now that I know about it’s toxicity.

  2. Lynne

    Its close cousin the white horsenettle is also a noxious weed here in the desert Southwest. If it weren’t so prickly I would welcome it as a volunteer, since the flowers are beautiful. The white horsenettle’s flowers are a much deeper blue than the Carolina.

  3. Doug

    To see how similar the fruit of S. carolinense is to that of S. lycopersicum (tomato), see this comparison:
    Pretty close, huh?

  4. Cambree

    My mom grows eggplants and these little flowers look similar.
    I didn’t know these are poisonous!
    From Doug’s photo, it looks like a cross between a cherry tomato and eggplant.

  5. Dori

    Now I know why people used to think tomatoes were poisonous.

  6. jan

    We have a couple of Solanaceae in the UK. The ‘worst’ we know as ”Deadly Nightshade”
    Is the same elsewhere that many plants with purple leaves, spots, streaks etc are poisonous in some way? Certianly we have a few here that meet that criteria.

  7. Connie

    Is there a little crab spider hiding just under the yellow part of the blue flower? Are those ovaries or are they stamen parts? It’s really hard for this layman to tell.

  8. Charles Tubesing

    A note of interest to gardeners: This plant is a host for the Colorado potato beetle

  9. elizabeth a airhart

    off todays subject
    we heard here in florida usa that part
    of british clolumbia has had an earthquake
    would it be too much to ask you to check
    in and let us know you are safe please
    thank you yes its a weed here too

  10. Jennifer Frazer

    I believe the yellow parts are the stamens. There should be a single carpel in the center. You can see the style and stigma of one here . The ovary at the base of that single carpel will ripen into a single tomato fruit.

  11. Daniel Mosquin

    Elizabeth, we’re just fine here. I think the earthquakes were in northern coastal BC — it barely made the local news, from what little I saw.

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