One of the most familiar objects in the hedge is the trailing stem and variously-shaped leaves of the Bitter Sweet or Woody Nightshade; the singular flowers or the red berries attract our attention at once. This and the Common or Black Nightshade are the sole British representatives of a genus that includes the Potato among other valuable exotic species.

Bitter Sweet is a perennial, with a creeping rootstock, from which arise the long trailing stems that have no means of climbing in the shape of tendrils, hooks, prickles, or the power of twining, but yet by leaning against the stouter hedge plants manage to attain a height of four or five feet. The leaves vary much, the lowest being heart-shaped, the upper more or less spear-shaped, with gradations between these forms. They are very dark green in colour, and all stalked. The calyx is five-parted; the purple corolla with five lobes, each having at its base two small green tubercles. The five yellow anthers have their edges united, so that they form a pyramidal tube, through which the style protrudes. The anthers discharge their pollen by terminal pores. The succeeding berries are egg-shaped, and go through a series of colour-changes from green through yellow and orange to a fine red The popular name is founded upon a peculiarity which we have never tested: it is said the stems when tasted are first bitter, then the sensation changes to one of pleasant sweetness. Flowers June to September.

The Common or Black Nightshade (S. nigrum) is an annual with an erect stem, about 2 feet in height. Its leaves are egg-shaped, the blade gradually narrowing to the stalk, with a waved or toothed margin. The corolla is white, the berries rounder, usually black, but sometimes yellow or red. Fields and waste places. From July to October.

Bitter Sweet.


Solanum dulcamara. - Solanaceae. -