Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 52, fig. 7, as S. sarrachoides.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


*Solanum physalifolium Rusby var. nitidibaccatum (Bitt.)Edmonds, Bot. Jour. Linn. Soc. 92: 27 (1986);

Solanum nitidibaccatum Bitter, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 11: 208 (1912). T: Chile, Poeppig 538 (B, destroyed); lecto: Chile, Poeppig s.n. W fide Edmonds (1986). An image of the type specimen can be seen on the Solanaceae Source  site.

S. sarrachoides auct. non Sendtn.: Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 52, fig. 7

SeeEdmonds, J.E. 1986. Biosystematics of Solanum sarrachoides Sendtner and S. physalifolium Rusby (S. nitidibaccatum Bitter). Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 92: 1–38 for a consideration of the name for this species.


Sprawling annual herb to 50 cm, pale green to dark green, pubescent with glandular hairs; prickles absent.  

Leaves ovate, the lamina to 6 cm long, commonly c. 3 cm, 2–4 cm wide, slightly discolorous, entire or shallowly lobed; petiole 5–15 mm long.  

Inflorescence short, 2–7–flowered; peduncle 1 cm long; pedicels 5–7 mm long. Calyx 1.5–2.5 mm long, enlarged in fruit; lobes narrowly triangular, 1–2 mm long. Corolla stellate, 12–14 mm diam., white. Anthers 1.5–2 mm long.  

Berry globular, 5–8 mm diam., green to purplish-green when ripe. Seeds 1.8–2 mm long, light brown. Stone-cell granules 0.5–0.8 mm diam. n=12.

Distribution and ecology

Native to warm temperate areas of South America; naturalised in North America, Europe, Africa, New Zealand and Australia. Sparingly established in south-eastern Qld, central coast and tablelands of N.S.W., Vic., Tas. and southern S.A.

Weed of cultivation and a possible contaminant of crops. 

Common name

Hairy nightshade, Argentinian nightshade, Green 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. chenopodioides, S. furcatum, S. nigrum, S. opacum, S. douglasii, S. retroflexum, S. sarrachoides, S. scabrum and S. villosum.

The nomenclatural complications of S. physalifolium and S. sarrachoides are discussed at length by J. M. Edmonds: Biosystematics of Solanum sarrachoides Sendtner and S. physalifolium Rusby (S. nitidibaccatum Bitter) Bot. J. Linnean Soc. 92: 1–38 (1986).

A useful reference to this complex 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 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) inAustralia. R. Soc. S. Aust. 124(1): 31-36.


Selected specimens

Qld: Near Stanthorpe, R.J. Henderson & J.W. Parham 1241 (BRI). N.S.W.: Cowra, Jan. 1960, K. Green (NSW). Vic.: Creswick, 30 Mar. 1964, J.H. Willis (MEL). Tas.: National Park, ?Hobart, Apr. 1952, R. Cock (HO).

From the web

A fact sheet for this species can be seen on the eFLORA SA site under the name previously applied to it, S. sarrachoides.

Further information on this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site

Further information about this species can be accessed through the Plants Profile site of the US Department of Agriculture. It is a declared weed in some states of the U.S. Images showing seedlings and fruits can be seen at

The Interactive Flora of NW Europe has images and further links to this species as S. physalifolium.

Further information and links for this species can be found on the Solanaceae Source site where the variety appears not to be recognised.