[NAFEX] Poisonous Garden Huckleberry?

Jim Fruth jfruth at tds.net
Mon May 28 09:00:20 EDT 2007


John Smith wrote:  "I obtained some wonderberry seed from another gardener
which I planted this spring.  The plants I have look
similar to weeds that I always thought was some type
of poisonous nightshade.  Does anyone have some
identifying characteristics that would help me become
more confident that these plants are not producing
fruit that will poison me when consumed?"

John,
    Britton & Brown (Botanical Keys) list two Solanum species as poisonous. 
One is sometimes called "Garden Huckleberry" and one is not.  The one that 
is not is S. Dulcamara.  Its flowers are blue, with a yellow center, and its 
berries are red.  It is free-standing but will climb like a vine.
    One common name for Solanum nigrum is "Deadly Nightshade."  "Deadly" 
couldn't possibly refer to the ripe berries because I, and a lot of folks I 
know, would be dead.  Perhaps the vegetative parts are poisonous; I don't 
know.  People who make pie out of the berries all say to have a minimum (or 
none) of green berries in it.  I know someone who claims to have fed a 
rabbit a diet of green nightshade berries and it died.  We who make pie from 
these berries sometimes jokingly refer to it as "Poison Pie."  Anyway, 
Solanum nigrum, aka Garden Huckleberry has white flowers with a yellow 
center.
    Ever wonder what the Colorado Potato Beetle ate before potatoes were 
grown in America?  It was a close relative of  the potato, Solanum 
rostratum, aka Prickly Nightshade.  It grows on the prairies from South 
Dakota to Texas and Mexico and also in waste places from Ontario to New 
Hampshire and points South.

Jim Fruth
Brambleberry Farm
Pequot Lakes, MN  56472
For jams, jellies & syrups:
www.bberryfarm.com
(218)568-8483 [Store]
(218)831-7018 [My Cell]




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