From Fear to Feast: The Truth About Edible Black Nightshade Berries



When I was first told black nightshade berries were edible, my first reaction was skepticism and disbelief. I think this a common reaction, as the word “nightshade” is riddled with fear and lore as it’s believed to be a deadly poisonous plant.

I aim to clear up  the misinformation a bout this important wild edible, explain where the misconceptions come from, and give you all of its distinguishing characteristics so you can safely harvest and enjoy this tasty plant for yourself.

What Is Black Nightshade?

While black nightshade is a common name for a few species in the Solanum genus, in this article, I am specifically referring to the edible Solanum species that go by that common name. These species include Solanum nigrum, S. ptychanthum, and S. americanuum.

Why Is Black Nightshade Considered Poisonous?

The study showed that moderate amounts of black nightshade (30-60g) rarely resulted in any side effects. I assume they gave the ripe berries to the mice, but which part of the plant was administered is unclear, as they also explain the slight toxicity found in the leaves.

How to Identify

Black nightshade is a somewhat bushy, spreading annual. Its growth habit depends on where it’s growing; in compact soil such as a dirt driveway, it spreads close to the ground.

Poisonous Look-Alikes

The first is belladonna (Atropa belladonna), which goes by the common name deadly nightshade but can also go by the name black nightshade. The other toxic nightshade plant that grows in the same habitat as black nightshade is bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara).

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