Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Western horsenettle

with 12 comments

Western Horsenettle by Mexican Hats 7995

Western horsenettle, Solanum dimidiatum, has flowers quite similar to those of silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium. Either way, the stamens look like five tiny bananas, but don’t eat them, because these plants are poisonous.

I took this picture, the first of western horsenettle to appear here, in Great Hills Park on May 21st. In the background you can vaguely make out some Mexican hats that were flowering nearby.

To see the various places in the (mostly) southern United States where western horsenettle grows, you can check out the state-clickable map at the USDA.

© 2013 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 5, 2013 at 6:15 AM

12 Responses

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  1. They do look like bananas – that was my first thought when I saw them. Not only that, the petals in your photo look rather like a piece of rumpled paper wrapped around them. Still, these don’t seem to be fruits you’d want to take home from the market!


    July 5, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    • I don’t know why the petals of this one were so crumpled; they’re usually more open. I’ve read that American Indians used the fruits of some nightshades to curdle milk in the making of cheese, but why that wouldn’t have caused poisoning I don’t know. Originally Europeans even resisted eating tomatoes, which are in the same botanical family, because they were afraid of being poisoned.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2013 at 6:39 AM

  2. Looks like potato flower, and it seems to be a relative..


    July 5, 2013 at 6:33 AM

    • You’re right, Bente. Even though nightshades are often poisonous, some members of the family have become familiar foods: tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, peppers.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2013 at 6:43 AM

  3. Love the crumpled paper petals.


    July 5, 2013 at 8:47 AM

    • I hadn’t given it much thought, but you’re the second person now to comment on the crumpled petals. You might say I was seeing without seeing, which I suspect happens all too often.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 5, 2013 at 8:50 AM

  4. Terrific photo!


    July 5, 2013 at 7:38 PM

  5. Wow!!!!


    July 6, 2013 at 4:07 PM

  6. […] here’s a fully open flower. Compare this yellow-on-yellow flower to its two-tone genus-mate Solanum dimidiatum (and compare this nine-hyphens-in-three-noun-phrases sentence to any you or I have written […]

  7. […] but rare in the center of the state, where other Solanum species like silverleaf nightshade and western horsenettle […]

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