Slender-stemmed, woody climber growing to 13 ft (4 m). Has deeply lobed oval leaves, dark purple flowers with yellow anthers, and scarlet oval berries.
Habitat & Cultivation
Native to Europe, North Africa, and northern Asia, this herb has been naturalized in North America. A common wayside plant, it flourishes in open areas. The twigs are collected in spring or autumn, and the root bark in autumn.
Twigs, root bark.
Common nightshade contains steroidal alkaloids (including solasodine and soldulcamaridine), steroidal saponins, and about 10% tannins.
History & Folklore
The Swedish botanist Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778) considered the herb to be a valuable remedy for fever and inflammatory disorders. The herb is also called bittersweet, perhaps referring to the initial bitter taste of the berries, followed by a sweet aftertaste.
Medicinal Actions & Uses
This plant has stimulant, expectorant, diuretic, detoxifying, and anti-rheumatic properties. It appears to be most effective taken internally to treat skin problems such as eczema, itchiness, psoriasis, and warts. A decoction of the twigs, applied as a wash, may also help to lessen the severity of these conditions. The herb may also be taken to relieve asthma, chronic bronchitis, and rheumatic conditions, including gout.
Common nightshade is toxic in excess. Take only under professional supervision.