Virginia Tech Weed Identification Guide

Bittersweet Nightshade: Solanum dulcamara

Weed Description:  A trailing or climbing perennial vine with purple and yellow flowers and spreading stems that may reach up to 10 feet in length.  Bittersweet nightshade is found throughout most of the United States, most common in the eastern and north-central states.  All parts of the plant are toxic.
Flowers:  Star-shaped, with purple petals and a yellow or orange center, 12-16 mm in diameter.
Leaves:  Dark green to sometimes dark purplish, 1-4 inches long, petiolated, alternate, and often have 2 basal lobes or leaflets at the base.  Leaves not lobed in this manner are ovate to oval.  All leaves have smooth, entire margins and may have an unpleasant odor.  Lobed leaves are a good identifying characteristic, however they are not always present as illustrated here.
Stems:  Becoming semi-woody with age, creeping, prostrate, and rooting at the nodes.

Fruit:  Bright-red, egg-shaped berries arranged in clusters. Berries contain flat, round, yellowish seeds.

Identifying Characteristics:   Perennial vine that roots at the nodes, often with leaves that have 2 basal leaflets at the base. Eastern Black Nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum) is often confused with bittersweet nightshade, but is an annual with an upright growth habit, and has wavy leaf margins and black berries.