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Common Nightshade
Woody Nightshade, Bittersweet

    Scientific Names

    Common Nightshade
    Solanum nigrum
    Woody Nightshade
    Solanum dulcamara
    • Common Nightshade
      • Solanum nigrum L.
    • Woody Nightshade, Bittersweet
      • Solanum dulcamara L.

    Common Names

    Solanum dulcamara:
    ivyBittersweet nightshade
    ivyBittersweet herb
    ivyBittersweet stems
    ivyBittersweet twigs
    ivyBlue nightshade
    ivyFever twig
    ivyGarden nightshade
    ivyNightshade vine
    ivyScarlet berry
    ivyStaff vine
    ivyViolet bloom
    ivyWoody nightshade

    Solanum nigrum:
    ivyBlack nightshade
    ivyCommon nightshade
    ivyDeadly nightshade
    ivyGarden nightshade
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    Parts Usually Used

    Solanum dulcamara: bark of the root, twigs.

    Solanum nigrum: leaves, herb.
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    Description of Plant(s) and Culture

    Any of several of the plants of the genus Solanum are called nightshade.

    Solanum dulcamara is shrubby, thumb-thick, ashy-green, somewhat angular, climbing stem can reach a length off up to 10 feet. The dark green (or purplish when young) leaves are alternate and variable in shape (may be cordate, landeolate-ovate, or hastate). The purple, star-shaped flowers appear in paniculate clusters on shore lateral or terminal peduncles from May to August. The fruit is a scarlet, bitter berry that hangs on the vine for months after the leaves have fallen.

    Solanum nigrum (black nightshade): its erect, angular, branching stem grows 1 to 2 feet high and may be glabrous or covered with inward bent hairs. The leaves are alternate, dark green, ovate, and wavy-toothed or nearly entire. Drooping, lateral, umbel-like clusters of white or pale violet flowers appear from July to October. The fruit is a many-seeded, pea-sized, purple or black berry.
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    Where Found

    Solanum dulcamara is a perennial woody vine found in moist areas, around houses, and among hedges and thickets in the eastern and north-central states, the Pacific coast, and in Europe. This common woody vine is found around barnyards and waste places.

    Solanum nigrum (black nightshade) is an annual plant found in gardens and along old walls and fences in various parts of the U.S. and southern Canada.
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    Medicinal Properties

    Solanum dulcamara: anodyne, diuretic, emetic, herpatic, purgative.

    Solanum nigrum: diaphoretic, narcotic, purgative.
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    Solanum dulcamara:
    Although bittersweet nightshade is a relatively weak poison, it is used almost exclusively for external problems. Use it as a poultice for gout, herpes, furuncles, warts, ringworms, shingles, old ulcers, and felons. Combined with chamomile it makes a good ointment for swellings, bruises, sprains, and corns. For skin diseases and sores, combine with yellow dock.

    Dulcamara is used as a starting material for steroids and is confirmed by scientists to be significant in anti-cancer activity.

    Solanum nigrum:
    Taken internally in very small amounts, the leaves strongly promote perspiration and purge the bowels the next day. The juice of the fresh herb is sometimes used for fever and to allay pain. In large doses, black nightshade can cause serious, but usually not fatal, poisoning. Externally, the juice or an ointment prepared from the leaves can be used for skin problems, cancers, and tumors. The berries are poisonous, but boiling apparently destroys the toxic substances and makes them usable for preserves, jams, and pies. Extracts used in tea in India, China, Europe, Japan, Africa, etc.
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    Bittersweet nightshade (solanum dulcamara) should not be taken internally without medical supervision. Contains steroids, toxic alkaloids, and glucosides. Will cause vomiting, vertigo, convulsions, weakened heart, and paralysis.

    Take black nightshade internally only under medical supervision. Some varieties contain solanine, steroids; deaths have been reported from use. In India, some varieties are eaten as vegetables, but similar varieties may be violently toxic.

    There is a deadly nightshade; be sure not to confuse them. Even so, use moderately.
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    Buy It! Eastern/Central Medicinal Plants, by Steven Foster and James A. Duke., Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10000

    Buy It! Culpeper's Complete Herbal & English Physician: Updated With 117 Modern Herbs, by Nicholas Culpeper, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1990, (reprint of 1814)

    Buy It! Taber's Cyclopedic Medical Dictionary, 15th Edition, F. A. Davis Company, 1915 Arch Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

    Buy It! Indian Herbalogy of North America, by Alma R. Hutchens, Shambala Publications, Inc., Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, 1973

    Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

    Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

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