Deadly Nightshade?

by Helen
(Germany)




I´ve found several suspect plants apparently camouflaging themselves among my tomato plants. Since the blossoms are similar, I assume that, like tomatoes and potatoes, they also belong to the nightshade family but the question is if they belong to the deadly variety.

Comments for Deadly Nightshade?

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That's exactly what they are!
by: Jacki

Root them out, especially if you have small children or pets.

These plants are related to the edible tomatoes and potatoes that are commonly grown, but when unripe, the fruits and the leaves are poisonous. When ripe, the fruits are irresistible, bright shiny red.

Usually, the plant called Deadly nightshade has purple flowers and is botanically Atropa belladonna - atropine, but this one is the Evening Deadly Nightshade, or Solanum ptychanthum, with white flowers.

As well as going by the name Deadly Nightshade, it's also called Blueberry, Bonewort, Morel and Stubbleberry.

The fruits taste sweet, which is why kids are in such risk from it.

The symptoms of poisoning are dilated pupils, sensitivity to light, blurred vision, heart problems, staggering, headache, rash, flushing, severely dry mouth and throat, slurred speech, inability to pee, constipation, confusion, hallucinations, delirium and convulsions.

Get medical attention right away if a child is suspected of eating the berries or leaves!

Safe to compost?
by: Helen

Well, that's a list of horrors I could do without if I'd ever been rash enough to sample these berries! Thank you for identifying this imposter among my tomatoes.

I'm not sure if it would be safe to compost these plants because, strangely, a whole host of unwanted tomato plants suddenly started popping up in this year's compost which I'd used for sowing flower seeds.

I'd added some damaged tomatoes to my compost bin last summer and it would seem that the composting process doesn't cause the seeds to become infertile. I certainly wouldn't want the tomato's poisonous relative to appear next summer...and that's putting it mildly!

Hot Compost
by: Jacki

You need a really hot compost to get the seeds to die.

They're quite tough, really. If you recognize the leaves, then they're easy to rogue out before they get to fruiting size.

If you pull them before they set seed, they won't reappear - this goes for tomatoes as well - it's not advised to use the volunteer seedlings, they can carry a virus.

Tomato or deadly nightshade
by: Chery

I suspect nightshade has hijacked my tomato plants. Do they cross pollinate? The fruit is large and look like tomato but don't smell or tast of tomato. Biting into one has caused an onset of oral allergy syndrome. I can eat tomatoes and peppers from the store, but not my garden. Any help on this?

Note to Chery
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

As they are both Solanacaea, they most likely could potentially cross-pollinate, but someone would have had to plant the seeds to sell to you, so it's quite unlikely that what you have is a hybrid tomato/deadly nightshade cross.

If you're getting symptoms of poisoning, then stop eating the fruit, just in case.

Without knowing more about where you got the seeds I can't really suggest any other course of action, except to contact the source to see if there have been any other complaints.

Tomato cross garden nightshade.
by: Chery Young

Had an allergic reaction to volunteer tomatoes from last years garden. They produced varying tomatoes. Does garden nightshade produce tomato side fruit?

Don't eat the volunteers!
by: Jacki Cammidge, Certified Horticulturist

My advice is not to use volunteers from the compost pile. They have issues that can create lots of problems in subsequent years, such as viruses.

It's quite possible that they will cross-pollinate with the deadly nightshade if you have that in your garden and it flowers at the same time. Rogue those out too while you're at it.

There isn't much you can do if it's within a few hundred meters as that's how far bees will fly to pollinate the different flowers. Alternately, cover your tomatoes with Reemay or other (bee resistant) cover and pollinate by hand. This only works if you only have a couple of plants or it would be a full time job - that's why we hire the bees to do it!

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