Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet, Bitter Nightshade, Blue Bindweed, Climbing Nightshade, Fellenwort, Felonwood, Poisonberry, Poisonflower, Scarlet Berry, Snakeberry, Trailing Bittersweet, Trailing Nightshade, Violet Bloom or, Woody Nightshade) is a species of vine in the potato genus Solanum, family Solanaceae. It is native to Europe and Asia, and widely naturalised elsewhere, including North America, where it is an invasive problem weed. It occurs in a very wide range of habitats, from woodlands to scrubland, hedges and marshes.
The common name bittersweet is also used in some regions for some species in the genus Celastrus (the Staff vines, family Celastraceae), e.g. American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens) and Oriental bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus).
This is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1-2 m high. The leaves are 4-12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3-20, 1-1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, poisonous to humans and livestock but edible for birds, which disperse the seeds widely.
The vine often grows in semi-shaded areas.
As with most Solanum species, the foliage is also poisonous to humans, but it is used in homeopathic medicine and herbalism. Its main usage is for conditions that have an impact on the skin, mucous membrane and the membrane (synovial membrane) around the joints. Bittersweet is considered to be an important remedy for treating herpes infections and allergies.
Pests and Diseases
- Blanchan, Neltje (2005). Wild Flowers Worth Knowing. Project Gutenberg Literary Archive Foundation.