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Useful Tropical Plants

Solanum nigrum

L.

Solanaceae

+ Synonyms

Solanum cestrophyllum Dunal

Solanum decipiens Opiz

Solanum dillenii Schult.

Solanum humile Salisb.

Solanum judaicum Besser

Solanum morella Desv.

Solanum moschatum J.Presl

Solanum papilionaceum Dum.Cours.

Solanum pseudoflavum Pojark.

Solanum schultesii Opiz

Solanum suffruticosum Willd.

Solanum vulgare Hegetschw.

Solanum vulgatum chlorocarpum Spenn.

Solanum vulgatum nigrum (L.) Spenn.

Common Name: Black Nightshade

Solanum nigrum
The plant is often found as a weed, as here in Bupyeong, Korea
Photograph by: Dalgial
Creative Commons License
Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum Solanum nigrum

General Information

Solanum nigrum is an erect, much-branched annual plant growing around 60cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. Some forms of this plant are occasionally cultivated, especially in western Africa and tropical Asia, for their edible fruits or leaves[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. The plant also has potential for use in soil remedial programmes for removing PCB's from the soil.

Known Hazards

There is a lot of disagreement over whether or not the leaves or fruit of this plant are poisonous. Views vary from relatively poisonous to perfectly safe to eat. The plant is cultivated as a food crop, both for its fruit and its leaves, in various parts of the world and it is probably true to say that toxicity can vary considerably according to where the plant is grown and the cultivar that is being grown[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
,
10
Title
Poisonous Plants and Animals.
Publication
 
Author
Altmann. H.
Publisher
Chatto and Windus
Year
1980
ISBN
0-7011-2526-8
Description
A small book, reasonable but not very detailed.
,
13
Title
Hamlyn Encyclopaedia of Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Triska. Dr.
Publisher
Hamlyn
Year
1975
ISBN
0-600-33545-3
Description
Very interesting reading, giving some details of plant uses and quite a lot of folk-lore.
,
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
,
76
Title
Poisonous Plants in Britain and their Effects on Animals and Man.
Publication
 
Author
Cooper. M. and Johnson. A.
Publisher
HMSO
Year
1984
ISBN
0112425291
Description
Concentrates mainly on the effects of poisonous plants to livestock.
]. The unripe fruit contains the highest concentration of toxins[
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
].

Botanical References

17
Title
Flora of the British Isles.
Publication
 
Author
Clapham, Tutin and Warburg.
Publisher
Cambridge University Press
Year
1962
ISBN
-
Description
A very comprehensive flora, the standard reference book but it has no pictures.
,
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.

Range

Found throughout most of the world

Habitat

Uncultivated and waste land[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
]. It is a common garden weed.

Properties

Weed PotentialYes
Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitAnnual
Height0.60 m
PollinatorsInsects
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Wild

Cultivation Details

Black nightshade is found through most of the world from the temperate zone to the tropics. It succeeds in the tropics at elevations from sea level to 3,000 metres[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 28°c, but can tolerate 8 - 40°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,000 - 1,600mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,700mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Grows best in full sun, but plants tolerate a reasonable level of shade[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils[
1
Title
RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956
Publication
 
Author
F. Chittendon.
Publisher
Oxford University Press
Year
1951
ISBN
-
Description
Comprehensive listing of species and how to grow them. Somewhat outdated, it has been replaced in 1992 by a new dictionary (see [200]).
], growing best when there is a high content of organic matter in the soil[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Intolerant of dry conditions according to one report[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
], whilst another says that they are very tolerant of dry soils[
206
Title
Oriental Vegetables
Publication
 
Author
Larkcom J.
Publisher
John Murray
Year
1991
ISBN
0-7195-4781-4
Description
Well written and very informative.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A common weed of many areas of the world, being found in gardens, fields, waste areas and open forests. It is mainly a weed of moist environments, and thrives in areas of low rainfall only where the land is under irrigation[
305
Title
Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.hear.org/pier/scientificnames/index.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
A very good website detailing weed species that have been introduced into the Pacific Islands.
].
A first harvest of the leaves can take place about 2 - 3 months after sowing the seed[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
There are some named forms[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
Caterpillars and slugs are particularly fond of this plant and can totally destroy it[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].
Grows well with clover[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
]. Does not grow well with wormwood or white mustard and, when these plants are growing close to S. Nigra, they increase its content of toxic alkaloids[
18
Title
Companion Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Philbrick H. and Gregg R. B.
Publisher
Watkins
Year
1979
ISBN
-
Description
Details of beneficial and antagonistic relationships between neighbouring plants.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - cooked[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
,
179
Title
Famine Foods listed in the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
Publication
 
Author
Reid. B. E.
Publisher
Southern Materials Centre; Taipei
Year
1977
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
]. Used in preserves, jams and pies[
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. A pleasant musky taste[
85
Title
Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains.
Publication
 
Author
Harrington. H. D.
Publisher
University of New Mexico Press
Year
1967
ISBN
0-8623-0343-9
Description
A superb book. Very readable, it gives the results of the authors experiments with native edible plants.
]. Somewhat like a tomato, but much less pleasant, it improves slightly after a frost[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
]. Only the fully ripe fruits should be used, the unripe fruits contain the toxin solanine[
65
Title
A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Frohne. D. and Pfänder. J.
Publisher
Wolfe
Year
1984
ISBN
0723408394
Description
Brilliant. Goes into technical details but in a very readable way. The best work on the subject that I've come across so far.
,
173
Title
Native Edible Plants of New Zealand.
Publication
 
Author
Crowe. A.
Publisher
Hodder and Stoughton
Year
1990
ISBN
0-340-508302
Description
A very well written and illustrated book based on the authors own experiments with living on a native diet.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. The fruit contains about 2.5% protein, 0.6% fat, 5.6% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash[
179
Title
Famine Foods listed in the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
Publication
 
Author
Reid. B. E.
Publisher
Southern Materials Centre; Taipei
Year
1977
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
]. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter[
200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
].

Young leaves and new shoots - raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups[
2
Title
Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World.
Publication
 
Author
Hedrick. U. P.
Publisher
Dover Publications
Year
1972
ISBN
0-486-20459-6
Description
Lots of entries, quite a lot of information in most entries and references.
,
27
Title
The Vegetable Garden.
Publication
 
Author
Vilmorin. A.
Publisher
Ten Speed Press
Year
 
ISBN
0-89815-041-8
Description
A reprint of a nineteenth century classic, giving details of vegetable varieties. Not really that informative though.
,
85
Title
Edible Native Plants of the Rocky Mountains.
Publication
 
Author
Harrington. H. D.
Publisher
University of New Mexico Press
Year
1967
ISBN
0-8623-0343-9
Description
A superb book. Very readable, it gives the results of the authors experiments with native edible plants.
,
89
Title
Flowers of the Mediterranean.
Publication
 
Author
Polunin. O. and Huxley. A.
Publisher
Hogarth Press
Year
1987
ISBN
0-7012-0784-1
Description
A very readable pocket flora that is well illustrated. Gives some information on plant uses.
,
173
Title
Native Edible Plants of New Zealand.
Publication
 
Author
Crowe. A.
Publisher
Hodder and Stoughton
Year
1990
ISBN
0-340-508302
Description
A very well written and illustrated book based on the authors own experiments with living on a native diet.
,
179
Title
Famine Foods listed in the Chiu-Huang Pen-ts'ao.
Publication
 
Author
Reid. B. E.
Publisher
Southern Materials Centre; Taipei
Year
1977
ISBN
-
Description
A translation of an ancient Chinese book on edible wild foods. Fascinating.
,
183
Title
Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications
Year
1990
ISBN
0-9628087-0-9
Description
Excellent. Contains a very wide range of conventional and unconventional food plants (including tropical) and where they can be obtained (mainly N. American nurseries but also research institutes and a lot of other nurseries from around the world.
]. This plant is cultivated as a leaf crop in some areas, but see the notes at the top of the page regarding possible toxicity.

Medicinal

The whole plant is alterative, antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, aphrodisiac, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, laxative, narcotic, purgative, sedative, stimulant and tonic[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
,
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
,
145
Title
Forest Flora of Srinagar.
Publication
 
Author
Singh. Dr. G. and Kachroo. Prof. Dr. P.
Publisher
Bishen Singh Mahendra Pal Singh
Year
1976
ISBN
-
Description
A good flora of the western Himalayas but poorly illustrated. Some information on plant uses.
,
147
Title
A Barefoot Doctors Manual.
Publication
 
Author
?
Publisher
Running Press; Philadelphica.
Year
1977
ISBN
0-914294-92-X
Description
A very readable herbal from China, combining some modern methods with traditional chinese methods.
,
192
Title
Narcotic Plants
Publication
 
Author
Emboden. W.
Publisher
Studio Vista
Year
1979
ISBN
0-289-70864-8
Description
A lot of details about the history, chemistry and use of narcotic plants, including hallucinogens, stimulants, inebriants and hypnotics.
,
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
,
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use[
4
Title
A Modern Herbal.
Publication
 
Author
Grieve.
Publisher
Penguin
Year
1984
ISBN
0-14-046-440-9
Description
Not so modern (1930's?) but lots of information, mainly temperate plants.
]. Use with caution[
21
Title
The Herb Book.
Publication
 
Author
Lust. J.
Publisher
Bantam books
Year
1983
ISBN
0-553-23827-2
Description
Lots of information tightly crammed into a fairly small book.
], see notes above on toxicity.
The leaves, stems and roots are used externally as a poultice, wash etc in the treatment of cancerous sores, boils, leucoderma and wounds[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
,
257
Title
Native American Ethnobotany
Publication
 
Author
Moerman. D.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-88192-453-9
Description
Very comprehensive but terse guide to the native uses of plants. Excellent bibliography, fully referenced to each plant, giving a pathway to further information. Not for the casual reader.
,
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
].
Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory, sedative, vasodilator and vulnerary[
218
Title
Medicinal Plants of China
Publication
 
Author
Duke. J. A. and Ayensu. E. S.
Publisher
Reference Publications, Inc.
Year
1985
ISBN
0-917256-20-4
Description
Details of over 1,200 medicinal plants of China and brief details of their uses. Often includes an analysis, or at least a list of constituents. Heavy going if you are not into the subject.
,
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
]. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches[
7
Title
Encyclopaedia of Medicinal Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Chiej. R.
Publisher
MacDonald
Year
1984
ISBN
0-356-10541-5
Description
Covers plants growing in Europe. Also gives other interesting information on the plants. Good photographs.
].
A tincture of the leaves is said to alleviate neuralgic pains[
345
Title
Minor Products of Philippine Forests
Publication
 
Author
Brown. W. H.
Publisher
Bureau of Forestry, Manilla.
Year
1920
ISBN
 
Description
A useful guide to some of the plants of the area, though terse on details. The book is out of copyright and can be legally downloaded from the Internet.
].

The ripe fruit is alterative, aphrodisiac, diuretic and laxative[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. It is used in the treatment of fevers, diarrhoea, eye diseases and rabies[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
]. A paste of the unripe fruit is used as a poultice to treat headaches and ringworm[
272
Title
Plants and People of Nepal
Publication
 
Author
Manandhar. N. P.
Publisher
Timber Press. Oregon.
Year
2002
ISBN
0-88192-527-6
Description
Excellent book, covering over 1,500 species of useful plants from Nepal together with information on the geography and peoples of Nepal. Good descriptions of the plants with terse notes on their uses.
].

Other Uses

This species has been found to be effective in removing Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB's) from the soil and detoxifying them[
248
Title
New Scientist
Publication
 
Author
Anderson. A.
Publisher
IPC Magazines Ltd, London
Year
1997
ISBN
0262-4079
Description
A short item on a couple of soil reclamation plants, Atropa belladonna and Solanum nigrum
]. The plant is more effective in doing this if it is infected with the bacterial parasite Agrobacterium tumefaciens[
248
Title
New Scientist
Publication
 
Author
Anderson. A.
Publisher
IPC Magazines Ltd, London
Year
1997
ISBN
0262-4079
Description
A short item on a couple of soil reclamation plants, Atropa belladonna and Solanum nigrum
].

Propagation

Seed - sow spring in situ.
The seed can also be sown in a greenhouse during the spring if required. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and plant out in late spring.
Cite as: Tropical Plants Database, Ken Fern. tropical.theferns.info. 2019-11-14. <tropical.theferns.info/viewtropical.php?id=Solanum%20nigrum>

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