Stem. - Usually somewhat climbing or twining. Leaves. - Heart-shaped, the upper halberd-shaped or with ear-like lobes or leaflets at the base. Flowers. - Purple, in small clusters. Calyx. - Five-parted. Corolla. - Five-parted, wheel-shaped. Stamens. - Five, yellow, protruding. Pistil. - One. Fruit. - A red berry.
The purple flowers, which at once betray their kinship with the potato plant, and, in late summer, the bright red berries of the nightshade, cluster about the fences and clamber over the moist banks which line the highway. This plant, which was imported from Europe, usually indicates the presence of civilization. It is not poisonous to the touch, as is often supposed, and it is doubtful if the berries have the baneful power attributed to them.
Thoreau writes regarding them: "The Solarium Dulcamara berries are another kind which grow in drooping clusters. I do not know any clusters more graceful and beautiful than these drooping cymes of scented or translucent, cherry-colored elliptical berries. . . . They hang more gracefully over the river's brim than any pendant in a lady's ear. Yet they are considered poisonous; not to look at surely. . . . But why should they not be poisonous ? Would it not be bad taste to eat these berries which are ready to feed another sense ? "