Other common names
Cut-leaf nightshade, small nightshade
Cutleaf nightshade is a hairy plant that grows in a low, mounding form close to the ground or up to about 1½ feet tall. The foliage has an unpleasant odor. It is toxic to humans and animals. Toxicity varies widely, with seedlings, growing tips of plants and green berries being most toxic. Drying does not destroy the toxic alkaloids. Do NOT eat the berries.
Typical plant in disturbed site. Photo by W. Hanson Mazet.
One-half inch to 2 inches long, slightly hairy with deep lobes. The lobes can be toothed.
The leaves have deep lobes. Photo by Photos by S. Donaldson.
Hairy and branched from the base. Flowers are attached to the stems between the leaves.
Small, star-shaped flowers are white with five petals and a yellowish center. Flowers occur in clusters of two or three and have a sweet scent. The tomato-like berries are small, green and somewhat striped or marbled in color.
The small, white flowers have a yellow center. Photo by W. Hanson Mazet.
Grows a taproot.
North and South America
Where it grows
Cultivated fields and disturbed sites; tolerates dry soil
Annual (sprouts, flowers and dies in a single year)
Reproduces by seed
Seedlings leaves are smooth and have a few coarse teeth. Photo by J. DiTomaso, UCCE.
As with all annual plants, successful control relies on preventing seed production.
Dig or pull small patches. Bag and dispose of plants if berries are present. The seeds germinate in the top 1 or 2 inches of soil, so till soils carefully to bury the seeds more deeply.
Encourage thick, competitive vegetation.
No information is available. Grazing should be avoided due to toxicity.
Apply broadleaf-selective herbicides such as 2,4-D + dicamba on young plants. Glyphosate may also be effective but is nonselective and can kill or damage other plants, including lawn grasses.
The toxic berries resemble cherry tomatoes, but do not turn red when mature. Photo by Photos by S. Donaldson.
DiTomaso, J.M. and E.A. Healy. 2007. Weeds of California and Other Western States. University of California Publication 3488.
Miller, T.W. and R. Parker. 2006. Nightshade: Biology and Control in the Pacific Northwest. Pacific Northwest Extension Publication PNW0588, WSU.
UC Berkeley Jepson Manual. 2012. Solanum triflorum Nutt., UC/JEPS.
USDA Plants profile, Solanum triflorum Nutt., USDA.
Whitson, Tom D. (editor). 2009. Weeds of the West. University of Wyoming, Jackson, Wyoming.