Black Nightshade

Solanum nigrum

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:  Fruit, leaves.

Fruit - cooked. Used in preserves, jams and pies. A pleasant musky taste. Somewhat like a tomato, but much less pleasant, it improves slightly after a frost. Only the fully ripe fruits should be used, the unripe fruits contain the toxin solanine. The fruit contains about 2.5% protein, 0.6% fat, 5.6% carbohydrate, 1.2% ash. The fruit is about 9mm in diameter. Young leaves and new shoots - raw or cooked as a potherb or added to soups. This plant is cultivated as a leaf crop in some areas, but see the notes at the top of the page regarding possible toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

The whole plant is anticonvulsant, antiperiodic, antiphlogistic, antipyretic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, diuretic, emollient, febrifuge, narcotic, purgative and sedative. It is harvested in the autumn when both flowers and fruit are upon the plant, and is dried for later use. Use with caution. The leaves, stems and roots are used externally as a poultice, wash etc in the treatment of cancerous sores, boils, leucoderma and wounds. Extracts of the plant are analgesic, antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and vasodilator. The plant has been used in the manufacture of locally analgesic ointments and the juice of the fruit has been used as an analgesic for toothaches. Used in liniments, poultices and decoctions for external use. Collect, rinse, section into pieces, sun-dry. May also use fresh. Leaves applied to skin for treatment of eczema, fruits edible and are used in fever. Constituents; Solanine; saponin; oil; dihydroxystearic, tetrahydroxystearic, linoleic, and oleic acids.

Decoction of 12 to 18 gms dried material or 30 to 60 gms fresh material used for difficulty in urination, lymphatic obstruction, leucorrhea, eczema and furuncle infections, skin eczema, cold and fever, throat pain, cough. Decoction of leaves as wash or poultice of pounded fresh material for skin ulcers, wounds and irritations.

Other Uses

Soil reclaimation.

This species has been found to be effective in removing PCB's from the soil and detoxifying them. The plant is more effective in doing this if it is infected with the bacterial parasite Agrobacterium tumefaciens.