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Weed Identification

bittersweet nightshade



Scientific Name

Solanum dulcamara

Other Common Names:

climbing nightshade


Leaves: Dark green to sometimes dark purplish, 1-4 inches long, petiolated, alternate, and often have 2 basal lobes or leaflets at the base. Leaves not lobed in this manner are ovate to oval. All leaves have smooth, entire margins and may have an unpleasant odor. Lobed leaves are a good identifying characteristic, however they are not always present as illustrated here.

Identifying Characteristics

A trailing or climbing perennial vine with purple and yellow flowers and spreading stems that may reach up to 10 feet in length. All parts of the plant are toxic. Perennial vine that roots at the nodes, often with leaves that have 2 basal leaflets at the base. Eastern Black Nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum) is often confused with bittersweet nightshade, but is an annual with an upright growth habit, and has wavy leaf margins and black berries.

Flower Seed Head

Flowers: Star-shaped, with purple petals and a yellow or orange center, 12-16 mm in diameter.

Seed Fruit

Stems: Becoming semi-woody with age, creeping, prostrate, and rooting at the nodes. Fruit: Bright-red, egg-shaped berries arranged in clusters. Berries contain flat, round, yellowish seeds.

Where Found

Bittersweet nightshade is found throughout most of the United States, most common in the eastern and north-central states.

Growth Habit

woody bush or tree

Thorns or Spines

not present

Approximate Flower Diameter


Dominant Flower Color


Flower Symmetry

bilateral symmetry

Leaf Hairs

no hairs

Leaf Shape


Leaf Margin


Leaf Structure


Leaf Stalk

shorter than leaf

Stem Hairs

no hairs

Stem Cross Section

round or oval

Milky Sap

not present

Life Cycle



not present

Plant Type