Solanum nigrum (black nightshade)
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- Habitat List
- Host Plants and Other Plants Affected
- Biology and Ecology
- Notes on Natural Enemies
- Uses List
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Links to Websites
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Solanum nigrum L.
Preferred Common Name
- black nightshade
Other Scientific Names
- Solanum retroflexum Dunal
International Common Names
- English: blackberry nightshade
- Spanish: hierba mora; solane negro; tomatito de moro; tomatitos
- French: creve-chien; morelle noire
- Arabic: anab-el-deeb; kharmah; uyyoub
- Portuguese: erva moira
Local Common Names
- Argentina: yerba mora
- Australia: blackberry nightshade
- Bangladesh: gurki
- Brazil: erva moura
- Cameroon: black nightshade
- Chile: hierba mora; llague
- Colombia: hierba mora
- Denmark: sort natskygge
- East Africa: black nightshade; egwangira; managu; mnavu; ol'momoit; osuga; rinagu
- Egypt: enab el-deib
- El Salvador: yerba mora
- Finland: mustakoiso
- Germany: Schwarzer Nachtschatten
- Honduras: hierba mora
- India: makhoi; nunununia
- Indonesia: anti; leuda; leuntja; leuntja pait; ranti
- Iran: taj rizi
- Iraq: inaib el-theeb
- Italy: ballerina; erba morella; morella minore; solano nero
- Jamaica: black nightshade; branched calalu; guma
- Japan: inuhozuki
- Malaysia: baung-laung-nyo; terong meranti
- Mauritius: brede martin
- Mexico: hierba mora; trompillo
- Morocco: morelle noir
- Netherlands: nachtschade; zwarte nachtschade
- New Zealand: black nightshade
- Norway: sort sotvider
- Pakistan: kanper makoo
- Panama: pintamora
- Peru: yerba mora
- Philippines: kamakamatisan; kunti; malasili
- South Africa: black nightshade; common nightshade; galbessie; hound's berry; inkberry; inkbossie; ixabaxaba; musaka; nagskaal; nagskaduuse; nagtegaalbossie; nastagal; nastergal; petty morel; seshoa-bohloko; stubbleberry; umsobo; umsobosobo
- Sweden: svart nattskatta
- Taiwan: lung-kwei
- Thailand: toem tok; ya-tomtok
- Trinidad and Tobago: agouma
- Tunisia: morelle noir
- Turkey: kopek uzumii
- USA: black nightshade
- USA/Hawaii: black nightshade
- Venezuela: hierba mora; yocoyoco
- Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro): pomocnica
- Zimbabwe: ixabaxaba; musaka; mutsungutsugu
- SOLNI (Solanum nigrum)
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Phylum: Spermatophyta
- Subphylum: Angiospermae
- Class: Dicotyledonae
- Order: Solanales
- Family: Solanaceae
- Genus: Solanum
- Species: Solanum nigrum
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
Solanum nigrum L. (Family Solanaceae; English name: Black night shade) is one of the largest and most variable species groups of the genus. Though this species group is often referred to as Solanum nigrum complex, the section is composed of a large number of morpho-genetically distinct taxa, which show their greatest diversity and concentration in the New World tropics, particularly in South America (Jagatheeswari et al., 2013).
DescriptionTop of page
S. nigrum is a very variable ephemeral, annual or sometimes biennial herb, 0.2–1.0 m tall, reproducing only by seed. It has a strong white taproot, with many lateral roots being produced in moist and fertile surface soils.
Stems vary from prostrate to ascending or erect, and from herbaceous in ephemeral plants to rather woody or even shrubby in those that survive long enough to be biennial. Stems are round or angular, smooth or sparsely hairy, and green to purplish.
Leaves are alternate, ovate and are carried on short stalks, 2–8 cm long, and vary between plants from smooth-edged to shallowly lobed. They are opaque, matt and dark green both above and below, and either smooth or finely hairy.
The small, white, star-shaped flowers are carried in umbels on slender stalks developing directly from the stems between the leaves. Each cluster usually carries from 5–10 flowers, which open sequentially over several days. The flowers are 5-8 mm across, and have prominent yellow centres.
Fruits are globular, dark green, matt berries 5–13 mm across, matt black when ripe, which contain many flattened, finely pitted, yellow to dark brown woody seeds approximately 1.5 mm long.
Seedlings of S. nigrum agg. all exhibit epigeal germination. The hypocotyl is commonly slender, about 1 cm long, green or purplish and distinctly hairy. The spreading cotyledons are slender, about 5 mm long, and taper towards the tips. The epicotyl is slender, smooth to finely hairy, and carries small, ovate, juvenile leaves that gradually assume the adult shape and size.
DistributionTop of page
Species are distributed from temperate to tropical regions, and from sea level to altitudes over 3500 metres. S. nigrum agg. appears to be distributed throughout the world, and one or more members of the complex probably occur in every nation from Finland in the northern hemisphere to New Zealand in the southern hemisphere. Solanum nigrum itself is a predominantly Eurasian species, which does not occur naturally in South America (Jagatheeswari et al., 2013).
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.Last updated: 10 Feb 2022
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Federal Republic of Yugoslavia||Present|
|Trinidad and Tobago||Present|
|-New South Wales||Present|
|New Caledonia||Present||Original citation: Mackee (1985)|
HabitatTop of page
Members of the S. nigrum complex are largely confined to disturbed situations such as cultivated land, roadsides, wasteland, uncompetitive pastures, and exposed river beds and banks. They occur in such places throughout the temperate zones and in subtropical and tropical countries from sea level to 3000 m. In cold and cooler temperate areas they usually grow as summer annuals, but in subtropical and tropical areas either during the moister seasons or throughout the year.
S. nigrum agg. thrive under disturbed moist warm fertile conditions with full or partial sunlight, becoming less competitive where soils are drier, cooler and less fertile or where there is heavy shade from taller crops. It is best adapted to fertile soils, especially those high in nitrogen and phosphorus.
Habitat ListTop of page
Host Plants and Other Plants AffectedTop of page
Biology and EcologyTop of page
Despite the almost global range of S. nigrum agg., little has been written on the biology of this group of weeds. It is likely that scientific literature may only apply to the genotype of the taxon under discussion, due to the considerable genetic variation of the compex, its wide climatic range and apparent phenotypic plasticity.
As many as 178,000 seeds may be produced per year. Seeds germinate best at alternating temperatures of 20-30°C, and there is little initial dormancy (99% of seeds germinate in the spring after collection and stratification). Seeds stored indoors at room temperature retained 27% germination after 2 years, but only 2% and 0% after 8 and 9 years, respectively (Andersen, 1968). In Israel, Givelberg et al. (1984) found a very similar situation, but showed that light improved germination and seed longevity in storage was 2-3 years.
As may be expected, S. nigrum agg. seeds from Europe germinate best in the spring (May–June), cease germination in the autumn (September–October), and remain dormant over the winter (November-March) (Roberts and Lockett, 1978). The same seasonality was observed in local genotypes in New Zealand by Popay et al. (1995). Roberts and Lockett (1978) showed that there was a strict requirement for diurnal temperature fluctuations in their genotype, a view supported by Kazinczi and Hunyadi (1990) who also showed differential germination between seeds from fruits of various colours.
Seeds of the S. nigrum complex appear to be presented for distribution by birds, and Barnea et al. (1990) showed that whereas germination of S. nigrum was unaffected by bird ingestion, that of S. luteum was significantly improved. Seeds in pig manure were killed by heating to 75°C for 3 minutes (Bloemhard et al., 1991).
Sattin et al. (1992) have shown that S. nigrum is a C3 plant.
Notes on Natural EnemiesTop of page
ImpactTop of page
S. nigrum is a serious competitor with the seedling stages of many horticultural and agricultural crops for water, light and nutrients, especially with widely spaced and low-growing horticultural crops such as tomatoes (Burgert et al., 1973, McGiffen et al., 1992) and peppers (Torner et al., 1993), and in nurseries (Gilchrist, 1988).
Seeds of S. nigrum agg. can contaminate similarly-sized crop seeds, for example, those of phlox (Phlox spp.) (Koppenhol, 1986). The purplish juice of the fruits can stain beans during harvest (Burgert et al., 1973).
S. nigrum is an alternate host of the fungus Cercospora albo-marginalis, nematodes (species of Meloidogyne, Rotylenchus reniformis and an unnamed sugarbeet nematode) and of many viral diseases including cucumber mosaic cucumovirus, tobacco mosaic tobamovirus, tomato spotted wilt tospovirus, aster yellows, atropa belladonna mosaic rhabdovirus, beet curly top hybrigeminivirus, cucumber green mottle mosaic tobamovirus, alfalfa mosaic alfamovirus, mosaic, potato A potyvirus, potato leafroll luteovirus, potato T trichovirus, raspberry ringspot nepovirus, tobacco leaf curl bigeminivirus, tobacco ringspot nepovirus, tobacco streak ilarvirus, tobacco yellow dwarf monogeminivirus and potato X potexvirus (Holm et al., 1991).
S. nigrum agg. is a particularly serious weed in mechanically harvested peas, since the (poisonous) green berries which are also harvested are inseparable from the green peas.
The green fruits, and to a lesser extent, the plant itself are toxic to cattle, horses and pigs, as well as humans (Vogel and Gutzwiller, 1993).
S. nigrum has been shown to be highly allelopathic to a number of test plants in bioassays (Souto et al., 1990).
UsesTop of page
Genotypes of the S. nigrum complex with large fruits are sometimes cultivated, the fruit being used in pies, and young shoots are also sometimes eaten as pot herbs (Edmonds and Chweya, 1997; Mabberley, 1997). The taxon is very variable, and edible cultivars could undoubtedly be selected and improved by standard plant breeding methods.
In most parts of the world, particularly in Europe and North America, these species are considered to be troublesome weeds of agriculture, but in many developing countries they constitute a minor food crop, with the shoots and berries not only being used as vegetables and fruits, but also for various medicinal and local uses (Jagatheeswari et al., 2013).
Uses ListTop of page
- Host of pest
- Gene source for disease resistance
Human food and beverage
- Poisonous to mammals
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
S. nigrum is one of a group of similar species (S. nigrum agg.), all of which occur as weeds in similar situations and which sometimes occur together. They are numerous in different parts of the world:
- S. americanum, which has translucent, paler green leaves, glossy immature and mature fruits and is a very widespread weed
- S. luteum, which has yellow berries and occurs in the Middle East
- S. retroflexum, a common weed that is very similar in appearance to S. nigrum, but has shallowly to deeply lobed leaves, paler below than above, and occurs widely as a weed
- S. sarrachoides, which occurs worldwide and can be distinguished by having the greenish fruit enclosed in an enlarged persistent calyx and fine hairs on the stems and leaves
- S. triflorum, another similar weed to S. nigrum, but the flowers are in groups of 1-3 and the mature fruits are marbled white and green (Symon, 1981).
Prevention and ControlTop of page
Due to the variable regulations around (de)registration of pesticides, your national list of registered pesticides or relevant authority should be consulted to determine which products are legally allowed for use in your country when considering chemical control. Pesticides should always be used in a lawful manner, consistent with the product's label.
Plants should be hand pulled or mechanically controlled before flowering, and for some crops grown in rows this has been shown to be quite effective (Dastghieb et al., 1995).
S. nigrum is susceptible to a wide range of herbicides, including:
- acetochlor (preplanting; Lorenzi, 1986)
- aciflourfen (post-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- ametryn (pre- and post-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- atrazine (pre-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- bromacil (post-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- chlorimuron (pre- and post-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- cycloate (pre-plant; Burgert et al., 1973)
- cyanazine (pre-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986; Dastghieb et al., 1995)
- dicamba (post-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- diuron (presowing; Ivens, 1968)
- 2,4-D (seedlings only; Ivens, 1968)
- EPTC (pre-plant; Burgert et al., 1973)
-ethofumesate (post-emergence; Bouverat-Bernier and Gallotte, 1989)
- imazaquin (seedlings; Lorenzi, 1986)
- ioxynil (seedlings; Lorenzi, 1986)
- lactofen (seedlings; Lorenzi, 1986)
- linuron (pre-emergence; Lorenzi, 1986)
- MCPA (seedlings only; Ivens, 1968)
- metobromuron (pre-emergence; Laureti, 1988)
- metribuzin (pre-emergence; Dastghieb et al., 1995)
- paraquat (post-emergence; Ivens, 1968)
- prometryne (post-emergence; Bouverat-Bernier and Gallotte, 1989)
- simazine (pre-sowing; Ivens, 1968; nurseries; Gilchrist, 1988)
- terbacil (seedlings; Lorenzi, 1986)
- terbuthylazine (pre-emergence; Dastghieb et al., 1995)
- trifluralin (pre-sowing; Bouverat-Bernier and Gallotte, 1989)
Hamilton (1997) lists 25 herbicides registered for use against S. nigrum in Australia.
The bacterial-based herbicide pyrithiobac sodium has also been shown to be effective against S. nigrum at the 2-3 leaf stage in cotton by Vargas et al. (1996).
Resistance to regularly-applied herbicides has developed in Solanum nigrum agg. in many locations worldwide, including:
-in China to atrazine (Zhu et al., 1986)
- in Malaysia to paraquat (Itoh et al., 1992)
- in Spain to triazines (Prado et al., 1993)
- in Denmark to atrazine (Andreason and Jensen, 1994)
- in South-East Asia to paraquat (Itoh and Ito, 1994)
- in Poland to triazine herbicides (Ciarka and Gawronski, 1996)
ReferencesTop of page
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