Solanum dulcamara L.

climbing nightshade

New England Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

Where native and non-native distributions co-occur in a county, only the native distribution is shown.

North America Distribution

Adapted from BONAP data

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Facts About

Climbing nightshade is an invasive perennial vine that colonizes waste areas and stream banks, sometimes growing across small streams and affecting hydrology. All parts of the plant are toxic, including the bright red fruits.

Habitat

Anthropogenic (man-made or disturbed habitats), forest edges, forests, shores of rivers or lakes, swamps, wetland margins (edges of wetlands)

Characteristics

Habitat
  • terrestrial
  • wetlands
New England state
  • Connecticut
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • Vermont
Flower petal color
blue to purple
Leaf type
  • the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
  • the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
Leaf arrangement
alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
Leaf blade edges
  • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
  • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
Flower symmetry
there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
Number of sepals, petals or tepals
there are five petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
Fusion of petals
the petals are fused into a corolla tube
Stamen number
5
Fruit type (general)
the fruit is fleshy
Fruit length
10–15 mm
Show All Characteristics
  • Clonal plantlets
    Bulbils
    the plant does not appear to have bulbils
    Bulblets replace flowers
    there are no bulblets where the flowers are located
  • Flowers
    Anther color
    the anthers show no hint of a pink, reddish or purplish tint
    Anther length
    4–6 mm
    Anther opening
    the anthers have small holes or openings at the tips
    Anther spurs
    the anthers do not have spurs on them
    Calyx symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the calyx (the calyx is radially symmetrical)
    Carpels fused
    the carpels are fused to one another
    Cleistogamous flowers
    there are no cleistogamous flowers on the plan
    Corolla palate
    no
    Corona lobe length
    0 mm
    Epicalyx
    the flower does not have an epicalyx
    Epicalyx number of parts
    0
    Filament length
    0.5 mm
    Filament surface
    the filament has rough hairs or scales on it
    Flower description
    the flower has a superior ovary, and lacks a hypanthium
    Flower diameter
    10–20 mm
    Flower number
    10–25
    Flower petal color
    blue to purple
    Flower reproductive parts
    the flower has both pollen- and seed-producing parts
    Flower symmetry
    there are two or more ways to evenly divide the flower (the flower is radially symmetrical)
    Flowers sunken into stem
    no
    Form of style
    the style is knob-like at the tip, and unbranched
    Fused stamen clusters
    NA
    Fusion of petals
    the petals are fused into a corolla tube
    Hairs on flower stalk
    the flower stalk has hairs on it
    Horns in hoods (Asclepias)
    NA
    Hypanthium
    the flower does not have a hypanthium
    Hypanthium length
    0 mm
    Inflorescence one-sided
    the flowers are arrayed in a spiral around the inflorescence axis or branches, or occur singly, or in several ranks
    Inflorescence width
    30–80 mm
    Inner tepals (Rumex)
    NA
    Length of flower stalk
    5–12 mm
    Length of peduncle
    10–30 mm
    Marks on petals
    the petals have spots or streaks on them
    Nectar spur
    the flower has no nectar spurs
    Number of branches in umbel
    0
    Number of carpels
    2
    Number of pistils
    1
    Number of sepals, petals or tepals
    there are five petals, sepals or tepals in the flower
    Number of styles
    1
    Ovary position
    the ovary is above the point of petal and/or sepal attachment
    Perianth shape
    the perianth is rotate (platter-shaped, the corolla flattened, circular, with nearly horizontally spreading lobes)
    Petal and sepal arrangement
    the flower includes two cycles of petal- or sepal-like structures
    Petal appearance
    the petals are thin and delicate, and pigmented (colored other than green or brown)
    Petal folding in bud
    • the petals are arranged some other way in bud
    • the petals in bud meet exactly at the margins without overlapping (valvate)
    Petal hairs (Viola)
    NA
    Petal length
    7–10 mm
    Petal number
    5
    Petal shape
    • the petal outline is elliptic (shaped like an ellipse; widest near the middle and tapering at both ends)
    • the petal outline is lanceolate (lance-shaped; narrow, gradually tapering from the base to the tip)
    Petal tips (Cuscuta)
    NA
    Raceme attachment (Veronica)
    NA
    Reproductive system
    all the flowers have both carpels and stamens (synoecious)
    Sepal and petal color
    the sepals are different from the petals
    Sepal appearance
    the sepals are green or brown, and leaf-like in texture
    Sepal appendages (Oenothera)
    NA
    Sepal color
    blue to purple
    Sepal length
    1.5–2 mm
    Sepal number
    5
    Sepal shape
    the sepal outline is roughly triangular
    Sepal tip shape
    the sepal tip is rounded
    Sepals fused only to sepals
    the sepals are fused to each other (not other flower parts), at least near their bases
    Stamen attachment
    the stamens are attached at or near the bases of the petals or tepals
    Stamen number
    5
    Stamen position relative to petals
    the stamens are centered on the sepals
    Stamen relative length
    anything
    Stamens fused
    • the stamens are attached to one another at or near their bases
    • the stamens are not attached to one another
    Style length
    5.5 mm
    Style petal-like
    the styles are not petal-like
    Umbel flower reproductive parts
    NA
    Upper lip of bilabiate corolla
    NA
  • Fruits or seeds
    Achene relative orientation
    NA
    Achene shape
    NA
    Achene surface (Polygonum)
    NA
    Achene type
    NA
    Berry color
    red
    Capsule color (Viola)
    NA
    Capsule ribs
    NA
    Capsule splitting
    NA
    Carpel beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit (pyxis) dehiscence
    NA
    Fruit beak length
    0 mm
    Fruit cross-section
    the fruit is round in cross-section
    Fruit features (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Fruit length
    10–15 mm
    Fruit length relative to sepals
    the fruit is longer than its associated sepals
    Fruit locules
    two
    Fruit shape
    the fruit is ovoid (egg-shaped)
    Fruit type (general)
    the fruit is fleshy
    Fruit type (specific)
    the fruit is a berry (fleshy, with the wall enclosing one or more sections, with two or more seeds)
    Fruit width
    7.5–10 mm
    Legumes (Fabaceae)
    NA
    Mericarp length
    0 mm
    Mericarp segment shape (Desmodium)
    NA
    Other markings on berry
    the ripe berries are mostly one color without spots or streaks
    Placenta arrangement
    the plant has axile placentation, in which the ovules are attached where the septa of a compound ovary are united, usually on the central axis, or to the septa themselves
    Rows of seeds in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit compression
    NA
    Schizocarpic fruit segments
    0
    Seed length
    1.5–2 mm
    Seed relative length
    the seed is about as long as it is wide
    Septum in fruit (Brassicaceae)
    NA
    Wings on fruit
    the fruit does not have wings on it
    prickles on fruits
    the fruits do not have thorn-like defensive structures
  • Glands or sap
    Glands on leaf blade
    the leaf blades do not have glandular dots or scales
    Sap
    the sap is clear and watery
    Sap color
    the sap is clear
  • Growth form
    Growth form
    • the plant is a subshrub (small shrub with partially herbaceous stems)
    • the plant is a vine (it cannot support its own weight)
    • the plant is an herb (it has self-supporting stems)
    Horizontal rooting stem
    the plant does not have stolons
    Lifespan
    the plant lives more than two years
    Parasitism
    the plant is not parasitic
    Plant color
    the leaves or young stems of the plant are green
    Plants darken when dry
    no
    Spines on plant
    the plant has no spines
    Underground organs
    the plant has a rhizome (a horizontal underground stem with roots growing from it)
  • Leaves
    Bracteole edges
    NA
    Bracteole length
    0 mm
    Bracteole number (Apiaceae)
    0
    Bracteole shape
    NA
    Bracteoles
    there are no bracteoles on the plant
    Bracts in plantain (Plantago)
    NA
    Floral bract texture
    NA
    Floral bracts
    the flower does not have bracts
    Flower bract length
    0 mm
    Hairs on leaf stalk
    the petiole has hairs on it
    Hairs on underside of leaf
    the underside of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hairs on upper side of leaf
    the upper side of the leaf is fuzzy or hairy
    Hooked hairs on underside of leaf
    no
    Inflated hairs on leaf
    the leaf blade does not have inflated hairs on it
    Leaf arrangement
    alternate: there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Leaf blade base
    the leaf has a distinct leaf stalk (petiole)
    Leaf blade base shape
    • the base of the leaf blade is cordate (heart-shaped, has rounded lobes at the base)
    • the base of the leaf blade is hastate (halberd-shaped, with outward-pointing basal lobes)
    • the base of the leaf blade is truncate (ends abruptly in a more or less straight line as though cut off)
    Leaf blade bloom
    the underside of the leaf has no noticeable bloom
    Leaf blade edges
    • the edge of the leaf blade has lobes, or it has both teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    Leaf blade flatness
    the leaf is flat (planar) at the edges
    Leaf blade hairs
    the leaf blade has simple hairs with no glands, and not tangled or wooly
    Leaf blade length
    30–90 mm
    Leaf blade primary vein pattern
    the secondary veins branch off at intervals from the primary vein
    Leaf blade shape
    the leaf blade is ovate (widest below the middle and broadly tapering at both ends)
    Leaf blade surface colors
    the upper side of the leaf blade is relatively uniform in color
    Leaf blade texture
    the leaf blade is herbaceous (has a leafy texture)
    Leaf blade vein pattern
    the major veins of the leaf blade branch, but do not rejoin
    Leaf blade veins
    the leaf blade has one main vein running from the base towards the tip (it may or may not have secondary veins)
    Leaf blade width
    15–90 mm
    Leaf duration
    the leaves drop off in winter (or they whither but persist on the plant)
    Leaf form
    the leaves are green, with an expanded blade and a leaf-like texture
    Leaf shiny
    the upper side of the leaf is dull or slightly shiny
    Leaf spines
    there are no spines on the leaf edges
    Leaf stalk
    the leaves have leaf stalks
    Leaf stalk attachment to leaf
    the petiole attaches at the basal margin of the leaf blade
    Leaf stalk length
    20–50 mm
    Leaf teeth and lobes
    • the edge of the leaf blade is entire (has no teeth or lobes)
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    Leaf tip
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acuminate (tapers to a long, thin point)
    • the tip of the leaf blade is acute (sharply pointed)
    Leaf type
    • the leaves are compound (made up of two or more discrete leaflets
    • the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Leaf types
    • NA
    • There is a gradual change in appearance of the leaves from the base (or near the base) of the plant to those from further up on the stem, with leaves progressively changing as one moves higher on the stem (often becoming shorter, or less toothed/lobed, and/or with shorter petioles).
    Leaf variation
    the leaves are nearly similar in size, prominence of teeth, and length of stalks throughout the stem
    Leaflet number
    0–3
    Leaflet petiolules
    NA
    Leaves per node
    there is one leaf per node along the stem
    Pinnately compound leaf type
    the pinnately compound leaves have a terminal leaflet (and usually have an odd number of leaflets per axis)
    Specific leaf type
    • the leaf has a row of two or more lobes on each side of the central axis
    • the leaves are simple (lobed or unlobed but not separated into leaflets)
    Stipels
    • NA
    • there are no stipels at the bases of the petiolules
    Stipule edges
    NA
    Stipule features
    NA
    Stipule fused to leaf stalk
    NA
    Stipule length
    0 mm
    Stipule shape
    NA
    Stipules
    there are no stipules on the plant
    Teeth per side of leaf blade
    0
  • Place
    Habitat
    • terrestrial
    • wetlands
    New England state
    • Connecticut
    • Maine
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Rhode Island
    • Vermont
    Specific habitat
    • edges of forests
    • edges of wetlands
    • forests
    • man-made or disturbed habitats
    • shores of rivers or lakes
    • swamps
  • Stem, shoot, branch
    Branched tendrils
    NA
    Hair between stem nodes
    • the stem has hairs between the nodes
    • the stem has no hairs between the nodes
    Hairs between stem nodes
    the hairs on the stem are plain, without glands or branches, and not tangled
    Hooked hairs on stem between nodes
    no
    Leaves on stem
    there is at least one full leaf above the base of the flowering stem
    Plant height
    30–200 cm
    Stem bloom
    there is no powdery or waxy film on the stem
    Stem nodes swollen
    the stem is not swollen at the nodes
    Stem orientation
    the stems trail at the base, but may turn upwards at the tips
    Stem roughness between nodes
    the stem does not feel rough
    Stem succulence
    the stems are not succulent
    Tendril origin
    NA
    Tendrils
    the plant does not have tendrils
    Wings on stem
    the stem does not have wings on it

Wetland Status

Occurs in wetlands or non-wetlands. (Wetland indicator code: FAC-)

New England Distribution and Conservation Status

Distribution

Connecticut
present, invasive, prohibited
Maine
present
Massachusetts
present
New Hampshire
absent
Rhode Island
present
Vermont
present

Conservation Status

Exact status definitions can vary from state to state. For details, please check with your state.

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. dulcamara

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

var. villosissimum

Massachusetts
unranked (S-rank: SNR)

Native to North America?

No

Family

Solanaceae

Genus

Solanum

Notes on Subspecies and Varieties in New England

Solanum dulcamara L. var. dulcamara is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. S. dulcamara var. villosissimum Desv. is known from CT, MA, ME, VT.

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Information from Dichotomous Key of Flora Novae Angliae

3.  Solanum dulcamara L. E

climbing nightshade. CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Swamps, stream banks, shorelines, forests fragments, roadsides, waste areas.

1a.  Branchlets and leaf blades glabrous or nearly so … 3a. S. dulcamara var. dulcamara

1b.  Branchlets and leaf blades conspicuously pubescent 
 … 3b. S. dulcamara var. villosissimum Desv.

Variety dulcamara is known from CT, MA, ME, NH, RI, VT. Variety villosissimum is known from CT, MA, ME, VT; also reported from RI by George (1992), but specimens are unknown.