Solanum nigrum

Common name: Black Nightshade Family: Solanaceae
Author: L. Botanical references: 17, 200
Known Hazards: There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not the leaves or fruit of this plant are poisonous. Views vary from relatively poisonous to perfectly safe to eat. The plant is cultivated as a food crop, both for its fruit and its leaves, in some parts of the world and it is probably true to say that toxicity can vary considerably according to where the plant is grown and the cultivar that is being grown4, 7, 10, 13, 65, 76. The unripe fruit contains the highest concentration of toxins65.
Range: Found throughout most of the world, including Britain.
Habitat: Uncultivated and waste land7. It is a common garden weed.
Edibility Rating (1-5): 2 Medicinal Rating (1-5): 2
Other Possible Synonyms: From various places across the web, may not be correct. See below.
S. americanumB S. americanum auct. nonP S. nigraE S. nigrum auct. nonP S. ptychanthumB,P S. rubrumB S. rubrum auct. nonP
Other Common Names: From various places around the Web, may not be correct. See below.
Alaman E, Black Nightshade H,P,E,L, Common Nightshade L, E’Nab Adh Dhib E, E’Nab Ath Tha’Lab E, Enab Ez Zhib E, European Black Nightshade B, Gurkamai E, Hierba Mora E, Inu-Hozuki E, Ituzumu E, L’Homme E, Lanman E, Lanman Noir E, Lanment E, Lao Ya Yen Ching Ts’Ao E, Long Kui E, Lung K’Uei E, Manman Lanman E, Morelle Noir E, Morelle Noire E, Morete E, Nightshade P, Nightshade,Black E, Ranti E, Solatro Nero E, T’Ien Ch’Ieh Tzu E, T’Ien P’Ao Ts’Ao E, Terong Meranti E, West Indian Nightshade B, Yerba Mora E, Zwarte Nachtschade D,
Epithets: From a Dictionary of Botanical Epithets
nigrum = black;
Systematics: From a UDSA Plants Database
Order: Solanales. Potato family
Other Range Info: From the Ethnobotany Database
Bahamas; Belgium; China; Dominican Republic; Egypt; France; Guiana; Haiti; Hawaii; India; India(Gujarat); Indochina; Iraq; Italy; Java; Lesotho; Malaya; Mexico; Morocco; Pakistan; Panama(Choco); Panama(Cuna); Philippines; Spain; Sudan; Trinidad; Tunisia;
Noxious, Invasive and Injurious Weeds From UDSA PLANTS database, Weeds Australia , DEFRA Injurious Weeds
Listed as noxious/invasive for: Colorado, Minnesota.

Physical Characteristics

Annual growing to 0.6m by 0.3m . . It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects. We rate it 2/5 for edibility and 2/5 for medicinal use.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and requires well-drained soil. The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It requires dry or moist soil.

Habitats and Possible Locations

Cultivated Beds.

Edible Uses

Fruit; Leaves.

Fruit – cooked

2, 27, 89, 179. Used in preserves, jams and pies183. A pleasant musky taste85. Somewhat like a tomato, but much less pleasant, it improves slightly after a frostK. Only the fully ripe fruits should be used, the unripe fruits contain the toxin solanine65, 173, 183. The fruit contains about 2.5% protein, 0.6% fat, 5.6% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash179. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter200. Young leaves and new shoots – raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups2, 27, 85, 89, 173, 179, 183. This plant is cultivated as a leaf crop in some areas, but see the notes at the top of the page regarding possible toxicity.


Leaves (Fresh weight)
In grammes per 100g weight of food: Water: 86.4 Calories: 42 Protein: 4 Fat: 0.7 Carbohydrate: 7.6 Fibre: 1.6 Ash: 1.7 In milligrammes per 100g weight of food: Calcium: 210 Phosphorus: 70 Iron: 5 VitaminA: 2000 Thiamine: 0.15 Riboflavin: 0.15 Niacin: 1.2 VitaminC: 43 Source: 218 Notes: The figures given here are the median of a wide range given in the report.

Medicinal Uses

Antiperiodic; Antiphlogistic; Diaphoretic; Diuretic; Emollient; Febrifuge; Narcotic; Purgative; Sedative.

The whole plant is antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, narcotic, purgative and sedative

4, 21, 145, 147, 192, 218. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use4. Use with caution21, see notes above on toxicity. The leaves, stems and roots are used externally as a poultice, wash etc in the treatment of cancerous sores, boils, leucoderma and wounds218, 257. Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator218. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches7.

Other Uses

Soil reclamation.

This species has been found to be effective in removing PCB’s from the soil and detoxifying them

248. The plant is more effective in doing this if it is infected with the bacterial parasite Agrobacterium tumefaciens248.

Cultivation details

Succeeds in most soils1. Dislikes shade1. Flowers are formed on the old wood206. Very tolerant of dry conditions206. Caterpillars and slugs are particularly fond of this plant and can totally destroy itK. Grows well with clover18. Does not grow well with wormwood or white mustard and, when these plants are growing close to S. nigra, they increase its content of toxic alkaloids18. Some forms of this plant are cultivated for their edible fruits or leaves200, see notes about possible toxicity at the top of this page. The leaves of one form are sold in local markets in Greece148.


Seed – sow spring in situ. The seed can also be sown in a greenhouse during the spring if required. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out in late spring.


No entries have been made for this species as yet.