Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Western horse-nettle

with 21 comments

Western Horse-Nettle Flowering by Firewheels 4197

The last post brought you a bud of Solanum elaeagnifolium, called silverleaf nightshade. Now you’re seeing a close relative, Solanum dimidiatum, known as western horse-nettle. The flowers of the two species are quite similar, but their leaves are different. If you think these buds look like little eggplants (aubergines, for you of the British persuasion), you’re on to something, because eggplant is Solanum melongena. Still, don’t try eating western horse-nettle or silverleaf nightshade, because they’re poisonous.

The red and orange in the background come from our old friend Gaillardia pulchella, known as firewheel and Indian blanket. The location of this June 16th photograph was another old friend, Great Hills Park.

© 2014 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

July 25, 2014 at 5:55 AM

21 Responses

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  1. Nice bokeh


    July 25, 2014 at 6:20 AM

  2. Warning taken!


    July 25, 2014 at 6:26 AM

    • Many plants in the nightshade family are poisonous, but some of our most familiar foods are also in that family: potatoes, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and of course eggplant.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 25, 2014 at 6:35 AM

  3. Superb coloration! Love the center of the flower, very interesting how for me it shows great resemblance of bananas….beautiful shot!


    July 25, 2014 at 10:50 AM

  4. Eggplant immediately came to mind when I saw this image, Steve. I don’t know if all Solanums have purple flowers and eggs clasped by sepals but ours do and I thought you had raided our garden.

    Steve Gingold

    July 25, 2014 at 4:35 PM

  5. beautiful!

    Michael Vanhille

    July 25, 2014 at 11:10 PM

  6. i was totally surprised to see that image – i was expecting something entirely different for ‘horse nettle.’

    the nightshade flowers are so pretty — i am always amazed that the juice from the berries is effective for treating athlete’s foot? of course the juice is rubbed on the infection and not taken internally!

    it worked for me many many times in costa rica and nicaragua – and a few times in ecuador… each country had a different variety, but they all worked well in stopping the problem….

    • I don’t know how the horse got into the name, but this plant does have some prickles on it, hence the nettle. (You can make out a few prickles to the left of where my name is in the photograph.) I’m glad to see your impression of this wildflower is better than the name suggested to you.

      I hadn’t heard of using juice from the little fruits to treat—externally, as you make clear—athlete’s foot. How nice that a natural remedy worked for you, and in more than one country at that.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 26, 2014 at 8:19 AM

      • i often referred to ‘Rainforest Remedies-100 healing plants of belize’ (Arvigo/Balick)

        my brother-in-law-pharmacist always shakes his head when i tell him how it cures athlete’s foot basically overnight.. he says, ‘that’s unheard of..’

        it works for me!

        i also learned from that book an amazing remedy for dysentery -type problems.. ‘guayava/guava leaf tea… it took a bit of tweaking, but it has helped so many people that i’ve lost count.. when there are no ‘big guns’ available when that affliction hits, almost always a trusty guava tree awaits nearby and saves the day!

  7. Marvelous. Wonderful plant, shown in a very painterly shot!


    July 27, 2014 at 9:50 PM

  8. extremely poisonous fruits. . . said to be a cause of Crazy Cow disease, ( not mad cow). A horrid weed that serves no purpose at all. In the potato family, nothing edible about it though.
    I highly recommend its removal from the landscape before it produces fruit.

    AKA TreadSalve, Treadsad,

    • From a rancher’s point of view, I can see where this plant would be a menace. When I look at it as a nature photographer, however, I find much to appreciate here.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 5, 2015 at 9:16 AM

  9. […] By way of geographic comparison, let me add that Austin is home to several species of Solanum. The two most common with flowers similar to those of S. aviculare are S. elaeagnifolium and S. dimidiatum. […]

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