bittersweet nightshade

(Solanum dulcamara)

Conservation Status
bittersweet nightshade
  IUCN Red List

not listed


NNA - Not applicable

SNA - Not applicable


not listed

Wetland Indicator Status
  Great Plains

FACU - Facultative upland


FAC - Facultative

  Northcentral & Northeast

FAC - Facultative


Bittersweet nightshade is a sprawling perennial vine that rises from rhizomes. It may be found trailing over adjacent shrubs and bushes. It often forms colonies.

Young stems are purple and are hairless or sparsely covered with straight, stiff, upward-pointing hairs. Older stems are brown and woody.

The leaves are alternate, triangular in outline, ¾ to 3 long, to 2 wide, on long, slender leaf stalks. Some are unlobed, others are divided into a large terminal leaflet and two small basal leaflets or lobes. The margins are untoothed. The upper surface is hairless or sparsely covered with straight, stiff, upward-pointing hairs.

The inflorescence is a 1 to 3 wide branched cluster of 6 to 12 flowers. The clusters are at the end of purple or violet, to 1½ long stalks arising from the leaf axils and at the end of the stems. The individual flowers are on nodding, closely-clustered stalks.

The flowers are to 1½ wide. There are 5 purple or violet petals that are widely spreading, eventually curving backward, and form no tube at the base. There are 5 stamens with large yellow anthers projecting from the center of the petals. The anthers are fused into a cone around the style. The style is longer than, and protrudes from, the anther cone.

The fruit is an oval, ¼ long berry, green when young, turning yellow, then orange, and finally bright red when ripe.




Climbs 2 to 8


Flower Color


Purple or violet


Similar Species


Moist. Thickets, clearings, wood openings.




June to September






Distribution Map



2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 22, 24, 28.




Native to Northern Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Indian Subcontinent. Introduced and naturalized in North America.





  Kingdom Plantae (green algae and land plants)  
  Subkingdom Viridiplantae (green plants)  
  Infrakingdom Streptophyta (land plants and green algae)  
  Superdivision Embryophyta (land plants)  
  Division Tracheophyta (vascular plants)  
  Subdivision Spermatophytina (seed plants)  
  Class Magnoliopsida (flowering plants)  
  Superorder Asteranae  


Solanales (nightshades, bindweeds, gooseweeds, and allies)  


Solanaceae (nightshades)  
  Subfamily Solanoideae (nightshades and allies)  
  Tribe Solaneae (nightshades and jaltomatas)  


Solanum (nightshade)  
  Subgenus Solanum  
  Section Dulcamara  

Subordinate Taxa






Solanum dulcamara var. dulcamara

Solanum dulcamara var. villosissimum


Common Names


bitter nightshade


bittersweet nightshade

blue nightshade

climbing nightshade

deadly nightshade

european bittersweet


woody nightshade












The upper angle where the leaf stalk meets the stem.

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Alfredo Colon
  bittersweet nightshade   bittersweet nightshade
Robert Briggs

Bittersweet Nightshade at Whitetail Woods Park.

  bittersweet nightshade    
Wayne Rasmussen
  bittersweet nightshade    Photos


  bittersweet nightshade    


  bittersweet nightshade    


  bittersweet nightshade    


  bittersweet nightshade    


  bittersweet nightshade    



  Solanum dulcamara - Bittersweet Nightshade
Virens (Latin for greening)
  Solanum dulcamara - Bittersweet Nightshade  

Solanaceae - Nightshade family.

All parts of the plants are toxic. Bittersweet nightshade is a an invasive perennial plant native to Eurasia.

Source: WeedUS Database of Plants Invading Natural Areas of the US

© 2009 Virens. All rights reserved.

  Woody Nightshade
Andree Reno Sanborn
  Woody Nightshade  

Solanum dulcamara

Woody nightshade is also known as bittersweet nightshade, dulcamara, felonwood, and felonwort. In the Middle Ages the name dulcamara was written more properly as Amaradulcis, and literally means "bittersweet". Felonwood and felonwort are not as sinister as they sound; felon is not referring to criminals, but rather to whitlow, which is inflammation of the toe or finger around the nail. The berries were used to sure this problem when other methods had failed. The plant was used for many medical conditions, including dissolving blood clots (in bruises), for rheumatism, fever, and as a restorative. Farmers used it as a charm around the necks of animals they thought to be under an evil eye. Bittersweet berries are red rather than black like deadly nightshade. .

  Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara var. dulcamara)
Bill Keim
  Climbing Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara var. dulcamara)  
  Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet Nightshade)
Allen Chartier
  Solanum dulcamara (Bittersweet Nightshade)  
Frank Mayfield
  Solanum dulcamara BITTERSWEET NIGHTSHADE  
  Solanum dulcamara L.
Aina Font

Published on May 12, 2013

Plants of future:
GRIN - Taxonomic information:




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Solanum dulcamara, woody nightshade
John Robertson

Uploaded on Sep 2, 2008

The beautiful red berries are capable of causing death if you eat too many. But the name gives the clue to why so few people are killed by its poisons.

  MyNature Apps; Identifying Bittersweet Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara

Uploaded on Jul 4, 2011

How to identify Bittersweet Nightshade, Solanum dulcamara also known as bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, woody nightshade and deadly nightshade.,

  Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum Dulcamara) - 2012-06-13

Published on Jun 15, 2012

Solanum dulcamara, also known as bittersweet, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, 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.

Bitterzoet (Solanum dulcamara) is een vrij algemeen voorkomende, vaste plant uit de nachtschadefamilie (Solanaceae). Volksnamen zijn dolbessen-hout, elf-rank, hoe-langer-hoe-liever, klimmende nachtschade en qualster.

  Solanum dulcamara

Published on Jun 10, 2013

European Bittersweet is a Eurasian species that has established itself in North America. It is distantly related to both the potato and the tomato. The berries and leaves are mildly poisonous and pose a hazard to livestock. It is also related to the nightshades which can be very poisonous.

  Toxic Berries of Climbing Nightshade
Journey Outdoors

Published on Nov 13, 2012

The first video in my series on toxic wild plants and berries to avoid when foraging. This plant is very dangerous to ingest and is important to know how to identify for all woodsman and survivalists. (Solanum dulcamara)




Visitor Sightings

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Diana Dragovich

Location: Rosemount, MN

creeping on fence and in lilac bushes

Alfredo Colon
8/2 and 8/21/2019

Location: Woodbury, Minnesota

bittersweet nightshade

Chris Kelly

Location: NE Brainerd, Crow Wing County, Minnesota

Spotted the purple flowers among the large grapevine on my backyard chainlink fence. Read that the berries can be toxic to dogs, so I removed it. The vines were about 10 feet long, emanating from a woody stock of about 8 branches.

Joe Krause

Location: International Falls

this has been growing at my home since I purchased it in 2010, I didn't know what it was.

Robert Briggs

Location: Whitetail Woods Regional Park

bittersweet nightshade

Wayne Rasmussen

Location: Keller Regional Park

bittersweet nightshade


Location: East of Royalton Mn

Found out what it was and sprayed with Round-Up





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