NIGHTSHADE FAMILY - Solanaceae: Nightshade; Blue Bindweed; Felonwort; Bittersweet; Scarlet or Snake Berry; Poison-flower; Woody Nightshade

Solanum Dulcamara

Flowers--Blue, purple, or, rarely, white with greenish spots on each lobe; about 1/2 in. broad, clustered in slender, drooping cymes. Calyx 5-lobed, oblong, persistent on the berry; corolla deeply, sharply 5-cleft, wheel-shaped, or points curved backward; 5 stamens inserted on throat, yellow, protruding, the anthers united to form a cone; stigma small. Stem: Climbing or straggling, woody below, branched, 2 to 8 ft. long. Leaves: Alternate, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 2 1/2 in. wide, pointed at the apex, usually heart-shaped at base; some with 2 distinct leaflets below on the petiole, others have leaflets united with leaf like lower lobes or wings. Fruit: A bright red, oval berry.

Preferred Habitat--Moist thickets, fence rows.

Flowering Season--May-September.

Distribution--United States east of Kansas, north of New Jersey. Canada, Europe, and Asia.

More beautiful than the graceful flowers are the drooping cymes of bright berries, turning from green to yellow, then to orange and scarlet, in the tangled thicket by the shady roadside in autumn, when the unpretending, shrubby vine, that has crowded its way through the rank midsummer vegetation, becomes a joy to the eye. Another bittersweet, so-called, festoons the hedgerows with yellow berries which, bursting, show their scarlet-coated seeds. Rose hips and mountain-ash berries, among many other conspicuous bits of color, arrest attention, but not for us were they designed. Now the birds are migrating, and, hungry with then-long flight, they gladly stop to feed upon fare so attractive. Hard, indigestible seeds traverse the alimentary canal without alteration and are deposited many miles from the parent that bore them. Nature's methods for widely distributing plants cannot but stir the dullest imagination.