*Solanum nigrum L., Sp. Pl. 1: 186 (1753)
T: Central Asia, Herb. Linnaeus no. 248.18; lecto: LINN n.v., fide R.J.F. Henderson, Contr. Queensland Herb. 16: 25 (1974), microfiche AD. See also the Linnaean Plant Name Typification Project where a photograph of the type specimen can be seen.
Images of 2 specimens in Linnaeus's Herbarium in the Swedish Museum of Natural History (S-LINN) can be seen at http://linnaeus.nrm.se/botany/fbo/s/solan/solanig1.html.en and at http://linnaeus.nrm.se/botany/fbo/s/solan/solanig2.html.en
S. nigrum subsp. schultesii (Opiz) Wessely, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 63: 311 (1960); S. schultesii Opiz, in Bercht., Oekon.-techn. Fl. Bâhm. 3: 20 (1843).
T: Hb. Opiz no. 8188; holo: PR n.v.
[S. opacum auct. non A. Br. & Bouché; E. Cheel, Proc. Linn. Soc. New South Wales 42: 595 (1917)]
Herb or short-lived perennial shrub, dark green or purple-green, pubescent with glandular and simple, non-glandular hairs; prickles absent.
Leaves ovate, the lamina up to 13 cm long and 7 cm wide, concolorous, entire or shallowly lobed; petiole 1–3 (occasionally to 7) cm long, narrowly winged in upper portion.
Inflorescence short, 4–12–flowered; peduncle 1–2 cm long; pedicels c. 7 mm long. Calyx 1.5–2.2 mm long; lobes triangular, 0.3–1.2 mm long. Corolla stellate, 8–12 mm diam., white. Anthers 2 mm long.
Berry globular, 6–8 (sometimes to 11) mm diam., dull black or purple-black; fruiting peduncle sharply deflexed. Seeds 1.8–2.2 mm long, fawn. n=36.
Distribution and ecology
Cosmopolitan weed, naturalised in all Australian States; most common in settled areas with winter rainfall but extending to arid and wet-tropical areas. Also on Lord Howe Is.
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. chenopodioides, S. furcatum, S. douglasii, S. opacum, S. physalifolium, S. retroflexum, S. sarrachoides, S. scabrum and S. villosum.
Reportedly toxic, but since it is often confused with other species the identity of toxic plants is uncertain. Very variable species with many varieties and forms described overseas.
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).
Derivation of epithet
From nigrum, Latin for black, a reference to the colour of the fruits.
W.A.: Kalbarri National Park, P.G. Wilson 6754 (PERTH). S.A.: Yorketown, N.N. Donner 725 (AD). N.S.W.: 58 km NNW of Wilcannia, B.G. Briggs 2724 (NSW). Vic.: Rickett's Point, Port Phillip Bay, H.I. Aston 937 (MEL). Tas: Pittwater, 19 Aug. 1951, W.M. Curtis (HO).
From the webBe aware though that there are a number of closely related species easily confused with S. nigrum.
A line drawing of S. nigrum can be downloaded from www.anbg.gov.au/poison-plants/poison-PDFs/Solanum-nigrum.pdf
John Lewin's early 1800s botanical sketch of S. nigrum can be seen on the New South Wales Library site at http://image.sl.nsw.gov.au/cgi-bin/ebindshow.pl?doc=pxc304/a633;seq=39
Images and information on this species in
A comprehensive fact sheet on S. nigrum in
Limited information, but photographs and images of herbarium specimens, can be found on the Solanaceae Source site.