Biological Sciences Department
Index Herbariourm

The genus Solanum in Kentucky

Solanum is a huge genus containing over 1000 species, most of which are tropical. Several important crop plants belong to this genus, including the tomato, the potato, and the eggplant. Wild Solanums are generally called nightshades, and are usually poisonous. Seven species occur in Kentucky, and though many are introduced from the tropics or other parts of the US, we do have some native species.

Solanum species in Kentucky

"Big" images are 1500 pixels high (and approximately life-sized). "Small" images are 500 pixels high. For scale, the "K" in "KNK" is 3.1 cm high (or 1.25").

S. carolinense: [Big; Small] Horse nettle. Common native perennial. Prickly and has orange berries.
S. dulcamara
[Big; Small] Climbing nightshade; Bittersweet. Introduced perennial vine. Flowers purple; berries glossy red-orange, and poisonous. Sometimes grown as an ornamental.
S. elaeagnifolium
[Big; Small] Silver-leaf nightshade. Common in the more western Midwest and occasionally introduced here. Covered in silvery hairs, so very easy to spot.
S. lycopersicon
[Big; Small] Tomato. Cultivated plant which occasionally pops up in weedy areas. A short-lived perennial but grown as an annual here (not cold hardy).
S. physalifolium
[Big; Small] Hairy nightshade. A South American weed, uncommon here.
S. ptycanthum: [Big; Small] Black nightshade. This our native black nightshade, and belongs to a complex of black-fruited native and introduced species, all of which are difficult to identify. Often confused with S. americanum and S. nigrum.
S. rostratum:
[Big; Small] Buffalo bur. Extremely prickly annual, more common in the southwestern U.S. but sometimes introduced here.

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