Native. Annual. Propagates by seeds.
Time of bloom: July to October.
Seed-time: Berries ripe in late August, but frequently are still maturing when plants are winterkilled.
Range: Nova Scotia to the Northwest Territory, southward to Florida and Texas.
The poisonous qualities of this plant are said to vary much with the conditions of its growth, the more dangerous having more of the characteristic musky odor. Some housewives boldly make pies of the fruit-occasionally with unpleasant consequences. Children have been poisoned by it, also calves, sheep, goats, and swine, but "fortunately few cases are fatal,"1
Fig. 254. - Black Nightshade (Sola-num nigrum). X 1/3.
1 Thirty Poisonous Plants, by V. K. Chesnut, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture.
though the illness caused by eating its ripe fruit is one of excessive nausea. (Fig. 254.)
Stem one to two feet high, round, slender, with spreading branches, when old often showing a purple tinge at the joints. Leaves alternate, long ovate, with slim, grooved petioles, thin, dark green, entire or sometimes wavy-edged, often bitten full of tiny holes by a small flea-beetle which infests the plant and makes it a menace to its relative, the potato. Flowers white, in small, umbellate clusters of three to ten on drooping peduncles springing from the side of the stem; corolla wheel-shaped, five-lobed, about a quarter-inch broad; stamens five, with filaments slightly hairy and obtuse anthers united in a cone around the style; calyx-lobes much shorter, obtuse, spreading, persistent at the base of the berry, which is black, globular, smooth, a little more than a quarter-inch in diameter.
Being annual the plants are readily destroyed by pulling or close cutting before the first fruits mature. If near maturity throw the plants on the compost heap, where fermentation will destroy the vitality of the seed; or burn them.