Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gards 4 (1981) 45, fig. 4.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


*Solanum chenopodioides Lam., Tabl. Encycl. 2: 18 (1794)

T: Mauritius; holo: P, Herb. Lam., n.v., fide C.D. Morton, Revision Argentine Sp. Solanum 145 (1976), photo ADW.

S. gracile Dunal, in DC., Prodr. 13(1): 54 (1852), non S. gracile Sendtner, in Martius, Fl. Bras. 10: 13 (1846); S. gracilius Herter, Rev. Sudam. Bot. 7: 226 (1943), based on S. gracile Dunal.

T: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Gaudichaud 520; syn: G–DC, P n.v., fide J.M. Edmonds, J. Arnold Arbor. 52: 226 (1971); Buenos-Aires, Argentina, Commerson; syn: P n.v., fide J.M. Edmonds, loc. cit.; Montevideo, Uruguay, Commerson & Gay; syn: P n.v., fide J.M. Edmonds, loc. cit.; cultivated Montpellier; lecto: G–DC n.v., fide R.J.F. Henderson, Contr. Queensland Herb. 16: 46 (1974), Austrobaileya 1: 20 (1977).


Sprawling perennial herb to 1 m, green or grey-green, pubescent with simple hairs; prickles absent.

Leaves ovate to lanceolate, the lamina usually 4–7 cm long, and 2–4 cm wide, discolorous, entire or shallowly lobed; petiole to 5 cm long.

Inflorescence short, 5–10–flowered; peduncle 1–2 cm long, slightly longer in fruit; pedicels 5–8 mm long. Calyx 1–3.5 mm long; lobes rounded, 0.5–1.5 mm long. Corolla deeply incised, 12–20 mm diam., white. Anthers 2.5–3.5 mm long.

Berry globular, 5–9 mm diam., black. Seeds 1–1.8 mm long, light brownish-yellow. n=12. 

Distribution and ecology

Native to Argentina; naturalised in North America, Europe, Australia and N.Z.

Occurs in coastal and subcoastal areas of south-eastern Qld, N.S.W. and eastern Vic. Grows in gullies and on river banks.

Common name

Whitetip Nightshade


Part of the S. nigrum or "Black nightshade" group of species, usually referred to as cosmopolitan weeds and usually thought to have originated in the Americas. They are characterised by their lack of prickles and stellate hairs, their white flowers and their green or black fruits arranged in an umbelliform fashion.

The species can be difficult to distinguish. Other species to occur in Australia are S. americanum, S. douglasii, S. furcatum, S. nigrum, S. opacum, S. physalifolium, S. retroflexum, S. sarrachoides, S. scabrum and S. villosum.

A useful reference to the Black Nightshades is J. M. Edmonds & J. A. Chweya, The Black Nightshades. Solanum nigrum and its related species. Int. Plant. Genetic Res. Inst. Rome (1997).

Some members of the complex have long been important food and medical sources in parts of Africa,India, Indonesia and China. Leaves are used as herbs or as vegetables, fruits are edible and provide dye and the plants have been used for various medicinal treatments. However other parts of the complex are poisonous. Because of this it is important to develop techniques for distinguishing between the species and the work to develop genetic markers is ongoing, particularly in Africa where these plants can provide a more easily obtained food resource than imported foods. Of the species which occur in Australia S. americanum, S. scabrum and S. villosum are all considered to be edible.


References: Keller, G.B. (2004). African nightshade, eggplant, spiderflower et al. - production and consumption of traditional vegetables in Tanzania from the farmer's point of view. MSc dissertation, George-August University, Gottingen.; Mwai GJ, Onyango, JC & Abukusta-Onyango, M (2007) Taxonomic identification and characterisation of African nightshades (Solanum L. Section Solanum). AJFAND Online 7(4); Olet EA, Heun M, & Lye KA (2005). African crop or poisonous nightshade; the enigma of poisonous or edible black nightshade solved. African Journal of Ecology 2005; 43: 158-161.



Asphondylia obscura Kolesik, a gall midge, causes galls in the fruits of S. chenopodioides and S. physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum.


Kolesik, P., McFadyen, R.E.C. & Wapshere, A.J. (2000). New gall midges (Diptera: Cecidomyiidae) infesting native and introduced Solanum spp. (Solanaceae) in  Australia. R. Soc. S. Aust. 124(1): 31-36.


Selected specimens

Qld: Brisbane, R. Henderson 301 (BRI). N.S.W.: near Bodalla, L. Haegi 1756 (AD, NSW); near Nelligen, R. Pullen 3964 (CANB). Vic: East Gippsland, A.C. Beauglehole 37803 (MEL). S.A.: Lower Torrens Valley, Feb. 1997, D. Symon 15462 (AD).

From the web

Further information and images of this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site.

Further photographs and images of herbarium specimens of S. chenopodioides can be found on the Solanaceae Source site.

Pictures of flowers and fruits can be seen in the Botany Section of the La Société Guernesiaise website.

An early engraving of the species can be seen in the JCB Archive of Early American Images