Nightshade

Solanum spp.

Nightshade

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Introduction

The Solanaceae plant family includes a very large genus of herbs, shrubs, trees and even climbing plants.  It also contains plants such as tomato, potato, eggplant, petunia, and many invasive species such as tropical soda apple, aquatic soda apple and horsenettle. Plants in this family are usually hairy and often prickly, with a distinctive tomato-like smell. Most species within the genera Solanum are poisonous and should not be consumed by humans or wildlife. Many Solanum species are listed as Category II exotic invasives by the Florida Exotic Pest Plant Council.

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Description

Solanum spp. that comprises the nightshades are erect, multi-branching, herbaceous perennial shrubs able to grow up to 13 feet in height.  Stems are covered with short, dense hairs that are often armed with thorns.  Leaves are alternate and vary in morphology, often ovate to elliptic with an acute tip and rounded to oblique base. Leaf margins are shallowly and irregularly lobed. Flowers are borne in corymbs at intervals on the stems. Yellow, globose fruit contain many seeds. Frugivorous birds eat the fruit and spread the seeds.

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Impacts

Solanum spp. are prolific seed producers which may produce seed throughout the year. New plants can emerge from seed or roots. Root buds on existing plants are able to generate shoots, producing new plants. Root systems can be fairly extensive, reaching as far as 3 to 6 feet into the ground.

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Management

 

Preventative:

The most effective means of controlling Solanum is the prevention of fruit production.

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Cultural:

Mulches may provide control of emerging seedlings.

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Mechanical:

Remove the entire plant by hand.  Mowing will be effective but frequency is critical for complete control and is particularly effective prior to fruiting.

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Biological:

The leaf-eating chrysomelid beetle Leptinotarsa undecimlineata, is reported to be host-specific and might be a useful control agent.

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Chemical:  

: Susceptible to translocated herbicides, including glyphosate, 2,4-D, and triclopyr applied to the foliage.  Repeat applications will be necessary to control plants from seedlings.

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Helpful Notes:

Surfactant – 0.25% is the standard rate for all foliar herbicide applications, 2 teaspoons per gallon.

Dry time – generally 4-6 hours is adequate, but the longer the better for glyphosate

Pay particular attention to herbicide labels near wetlands or bodies of water.

The use of trade names in these publications is solely for the purpose of providing specific information. UF/IFAS does not guarantee or warranty the products named, and references to them in this publication does not signify our approval to the exclusion of other products of suitable composition. All chemicals should be used in accordance with directions on the manufacturer's label.

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References and Useful Links:

Environmental Protection Agency

Florida's Division of Plant Industry

Florida's Cooperative Extension Electronic Data Information Source

University of Florida

United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)/ Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS)

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