28 March 2015

Solanum dulcamara is Bittersweet Nightshade vine

Bittersweet Nightshade vine has purple flowers with yellow centers, just as other nightshade plants
Solanum dulcamara in our shade garden
have. Without planting it myself, a vine has sent up a single leaf in the shade garden. No doubt a gift from a bird, squirrel or other creature out there. 

In Germany as in the US the stems and leaves are used to make a topical treatment for eczema so it could be useful to keep it. 

The website Herbs 2000, says
"The homeopathic remedy dulcamara is prepared using the fresh green leaves and stems of the bittersweet plant, which is also known as the bitter nightshade, and used to treat a host of ailments, especially joint problems,skin conditions and complaints that have an influence on the mucus membranes."

On the other hand it has a reputation for creating woody vines that smother out nearby plants - most of which I value and pamper.

Its native ranges include Europe, Africa and Asia, so it is well established around the world. It is also on invasive lists for some states in the US. In WA, for example, it is considered a "weed of concern". 

Solanum dulcamara prefers rich, moist soil but will survive in half shade almost anywhere the birds leave the seeds.

Bittersweet flower
 And, of course since it is a nightshade plant (tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant) it is poisonous though birds are not affected by eating the berries.

For the moment it gets a reprieve since I like the idea of providing cover for wildlife. But, if it gets to stay long-term it will be in a location farther toward the back of the property where wildlife is more likely to hang out.





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