Common Nightshade

Common Nightshade
Common Nightshade. Solanum americanum.
Solanaceae, the nightshade family.

Plant: Low branched plant 1'-2', with smooth stems and small clusters of white, yellow-beaked flowers.
Flowers: White with five pointed lobes turned back, and central yellow "beak" formed by the five grouped stamens, about 3/8". Flowers downturned in small clusters (umbels).
Leaves: Alternate, ovate, with wavy (sinuous) margins, 2"-4". Leaves have apparent stalk (petiole) but with a narrow leaf edge extending back to the stem.
Fruit: A shiny berry, about 1/4", first green, blue-black when ripe.
Blooming: June-October.
Habitat: Disturbed soil, open woods, clearings and boundaries.

Comments: A native member of the nightshade family. The leaves and unripe fruit contain the toxic alkaloid solanine (as do several members of the family). The ripe berries contain much less of the substance, and some people are apparently able to eat them without ill effects. It is possible that other people are more sensitive, as the berries also have a reputation of being poisonous. In any case, caution is warranted for anyone inclined to experiment.

Where to find it: The only place I have found this plant is growing between the stones that border the parking lot near the lodge. They are periodically weeded out, so they may be difficult to find here.