Solanum sarrachoides Sendtner, in Martius, Fl. Bras. 10: 18 (1846) pro parte (emend. Bitter, Feddes Rep. 11: 208 (1912)

Lectotype: Brazil, Sellow s.n. (P), n.v. fide J. M. Edmonds, Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 92: 16–23 (1986). For a complete synonymy see there.


More or less bushy, annual short-lived perennial herb to 60 cm (described as to c. 1 m in Australian material), covered with simple, viscid, glandular hairs to 2 mm long and sessile glands.


Leaves (32-) 39–76 (-112)  (27-) 31–51 (-80) mm, ovate; base truncate to rounded, attenuate to the petiole, apex acute, margins regularly sinuate-dentate with 3–9 antrorse lobes; solitary and alternate or geminate (slightly unequal); petioles 16–32 (-38) mm.


Inflorescence a simple umbellate cyme, 3–4 (-5) flowered. Peduncle usually leaf opposed, rarely internodal, 3–13 mm long in flower, 4–16 (-28) mm long in fruit, infructescence rhachis 0–2 mm. Pedicels 7–11 mm. Calyx 3–6 mm long in flower; lobes oblong-triangular slightly acuminate at apex, (2-) 3–5  1 (-2) mm in flower; in fruit lobes narrowly triangular, 5.5–8  3.5–4 mm. Corolla broadly stellate to pentagonal, white with yellow/translucent basal star, 5–7.5 mm diameter, lobes broadly triangular, 3–4.5 (-7 in Australian material) mm  5–7 mm. filaments 1–1.5 mm. Anthers yellowish, (1.5-) 2 mm long. Style 3–3.5 mm long, occasionally exserted beyond anthers, stigma capitate.


Berry globular, pale green, shiny becoming dull, opaque (no information on fruits in the fresh state for Australian material), falling with pedicels still attached, 6–9 mm diameter, usually completely enveloped by enlarged calyces; calyces become papery and strongly reflexed at full maturity, exposing the berry. Seeds 1.3–1.5  1–1.3 mm, pale yellowish, flattened, (23-) 59  69 (-93) per fruit. Sclerotic granules 4–6, c. 1–1.3 mm broad. n=12.


[This description, compiled by RMB, is based on that in Edmonds (1986), Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 92: 1-38 with due reference to the Australian material. The earlier description of this species in Flora of Australia 29: 100 (1982) referred to material now treated as S. physalifolium ssp. nitidibaccatus (q.v.)]

Distribution and ecology

Indigenous to central and southern South America; distributed as a weed in North America (casual) and western Europe (Edmonds 1986).

Known in Australia only from Montague Island which is c. 9 km ESE of Narooma, N.S.W. - see Heyligers & Adams (2004).

Reference: P.C.Heyligers & L.G.Adams (2004). Flora and vegetation of Montague Island - past and present. Cunninghamia 8: 285-305.

Common name

Hairy 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. douglasii, S. opacum, S. physalifolium, S. retroflexum, S. nigrum, 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). 

For a discussion of the differences between S. sarrachoides Sendtner and S. physalifolium Rusby (S. nitidibaccatum Bitter) world-wide, see Edmonds, J.M. (1986), Bot. J. Linn. Soc. 92: 1-38. Many references to S. sarrachoides in the Australian literature are actually to S. physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum (q.v.). 

The description here is based on that in Edmonds (1986), with due reference to the Australian material. For illustrations and photographs of both S. sarrachoides and S. physalifolium (both varieties) see Edmonds (1986).  

Soborino Vesperinas & del Monte Díaz de Guerñeu (1994) review the identification and occurrence of S. sarrachoides and S. physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum in Spain, and provide additional characters for separating the two species.



Specimens previously treated under this name in Symon (1981) and Purdie et al (1982) are now treated as S. physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum. Some authorities consider that the S. sarrachoides and S. physalifolium var. nitidibaccatum are synonymous (see

Clearly more work is needed in this area.

Selected specimens

N.S.W.: Montague Island, P. Heyligers 89025, 4.iv.1989, P. Heyligers 92011, 29.iii.1992 (CANB 2 sheets, NSW).

From the web

Further information on this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site and a fact sheet can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.

Images of S. sarrachoides can be seen on the CalPhotos site and on the Oregon State University Weed Management page.