Nightshade, Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

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"And God saw all that He had made, and behold, it was very good.   And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day" (Genesis 1:31)

Wild Flowers of Sleepy Hollow Lake
Nightshade, Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)
(To enlarge the photos, click on the photos or links)

(Nightshade - 01)  Nightshade, also called bittersweet nightshade, is a climbing and twisting vine that grows along the ground and on low plants or climbs into trees and shrubs to heights of about eight feet.





(Nightshade - 01a)  In this photo we can observe the various stages in the development of the nightshade flower from a green bud to a deep purple bud as it prepares to open into a flower.






(Nightshade - 01b)  In this photo, we can observe the stages of the nightshade flowers' opening.  As the deep purple buds open the five petals of the nightshade flower face forward, as in the top flower; as the flower matures, the petals begin to open wider, as in the flower to the left; and finally the petals fold back from the stamens and pistil, as in the flower to the right.  The five stamens stay close together, forming a beak shape with the single pistil protruding like a white tongue.



(Nightshade - 02)  At the base of each of the five nightshade flower petals are two greenish-yellow dots, each surrounded by a white ring.  The actual size of the nightshade flower is about 1/2 inch across.




(Nightshade - 03)  In this photo of the nightshade flower, we are focusing on the little hairs that grow on the underside of the open petals and can be seen on the edge curl.  We are also focusing on the tip of the five stamen "beak" with its projecting single pistil.




(Nightshade - 04)  Once the nightshade flowers are pollinated, they soon form green berries, which mature to a bright red color.  In this photo, we can also observe another characteristic of the nightshade:  Each flower and each berry has its own stem which grows alternately from the notch or bend of the vine.




(Nightshade - 04a)  In this photo, we have a close up view of two of the nightshade berries, showing the way their individual stems grow separately from the notch or bend of the vine.






(Nightshade - 05)  The leaves of the nightshade are ovate and have irregular toothing or notching.  In the leaf at the top of the photo the notches are almost to the stem, giving the leaf the appearance of having three leaflets (one large and two small); but this is only one deeply notched leaf.  The nightshade leaves grow alternately along the vine.  We can also observe the trumpet-shaped corolla in the side view of the flower in the lower left of the photo.




(Nightshade - 06)  Both the foliage and the berries of the nightshade are somewhat poisonous, the berries causing nausea; however in diluted form the berries were used by Native Americans to treat nervousness and diarrhea.  The dried stems were used as a sedative, diuretic and hypnotic.  The chewed roots had an initial bitter taste which became sweet as they continued to be chewed.  This characteristic led to the name, bittersweet nightshade.




(Nightshade - 07)  In this photo we get another look at the beautifully created details of the nightshade flower.





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Presented here are just a few of the countless components of God's creation.  Just as we cannot have human and animal life without water and plants, neither can we have lasting peace without love and compassion.  It is our hope and prayer that this series will motivate people to live and act in a cruelty-free manner; that we would no longer hurt or destroy each other, the animals or our environment.

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