Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Silverleaf nightshade fruit

with 11 comments

Click for greater clarity.

Click for greater clarity.

In 2011 I showed photographs of a bud and the center of a flower of silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, one of the most common wildflowers in central Texas (so common that some people consider it a weed). Now here’s a picture taken at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on December 4th, 2012, showing the small fruits of this native species. If they look a bit like cherry tomatoes it’s not coincidental, as tomatoes are also in the nightshade family (and used to be classified in the same Solanum genus). The shriveled leaves and grayish stalks are part of the nightshade, while the tan stalks and slender brown leaves are from a native grass known as little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium.

© 2012 Steven Schwartzman


Written by Steve Schwartzman

December 21, 2012 at 3:00 PM

11 Responses

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  1. Good ole nightshade. It grows in so many places and is happy to grow just about any where. Just like broom weeds and Johnson grass. Hardy plants that is for sure.


    December 21, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    • Ah yes, this most common of our nightshades really is happy to grow just about anywhere, and throughout most of the year.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 21, 2012 at 8:57 PM

  2. I remember this plant, or at least its fruit. I don’t remember ever seeing the bud and flower. Merry Christmas, Steve.


    December 21, 2012 at 7:42 PM

  3. A bright sunny image deeply appreciated on a dark gloomy day 🙂


    December 21, 2012 at 9:25 PM

  4. This is a solanum? nice golden fruits. I just learned his english name, thanks Steve. Over here we have to cultivate it in big flowerpot and have it inside during Winter.
    see you on my blog or yours


    December 22, 2012 at 5:08 AM

    • Yes, this is in the genus Solanum, and it’s the most common member of that family that I see in Austin. Its flowers can be found here for a large part of the year. Ciao.

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2012 at 8:47 AM

  5. My goodness! Another new friend that I met in person at Anahuac, I didn’t have a clue what it was. Clearly, it wasn’t a gourd, but it certainly was abundant and the fruit seemed a little squishy, like an overripe tomato. Now, I know why.

    “Nightshade” stopped me. The first thing I thought of was Belladonna. Now I know not all nightshades are toxic or lethal. And the wiki paragraph about the alkaloids found in the family was interesting. I especially smiled at this nice bit of euphemism: “Capsaicin extract is used to make pepper spray, a useful deterrent against aggressive mammals.”


    December 22, 2012 at 9:36 AM

    • I’m not surprised that you recognize this from Anahuac, because silverleaf nightshade is quite a common plant, and its fruits can stand out in the undergrowth when they’re still yellow. One familiar Solanum whose fruit is not poisonous but whose leaves can cause trouble is the tomato, which is native to Mexico.

      That wording about “aggressive mammals” is funny, isn’t it?

      Steve Schwartzman

      December 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM

  6. […] little bluestem, Schizachyrium scoparium, played a supporting role behind some nightshade fruits in December of 2012, here’s a mature stand of the grass in its own right and in this new […]

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