5th September 2014

Earlier in the year I blogged about the fascinating Wild Arum (Lords and Ladies, Cuckoo Pint- it has many names!), all parts of which are poisonous, and now the bright, attractive but toxic berries are appearing on their short, upright stalks, along banks and hedgerows. (19th century scientists believed Wild Arum berries poisoned birds so their dead bodies would then fertilise the plants!) The berries change from green, through yellow and orange to red. Another toxic plant, is the Woody Nightshade. It is also known as the Bittersweet, because the  egg-shaped berries, which cause vomiting, have a very bitter taste. Woody nightshade, not to be confused with Deadly Nightshade which is actually unrelated and much less common (though I did once find it growing on a Sheffield residential street!), is in the Solanum family, along with the Potato, Tomato and Aubergine, all of which have similar shaped flowers and have toxic green

The toxic berries of Wild Arum turning from green to red.

The toxic berries of Wild Arum turning from green to red.

The toxic, egg-shaped berries of Woody Nightshade (Bittersweet)

The toxic, egg-shaped berries of Woody Nightshade (Bittersweet)

Flowers of Slanum Crispum Glasnevin, the garden solanum, related to Woody Nightshade and with almost identical flowers.

Flowers of Slanum Crispum Glasnevin, the garden solanum, related to Woody Nightshade and with almost identical flowers. Also related to potato and tomato.

parts. Bees  audibly ‘buzz’ the flowers of  Woody Nightshade,  causing the pollen to fall onto their bodies. They then carry the pollen to other flowers, completing pollination. The resulting bright berries hanging down from their purple stems are out now. Solanum I love having in the garden is Crispum ‘Glasnevin’. It grows several feet tall, is great for wall or fence cover and has almost identical flowers to Woody Nightshade (see photo). Conditions: Another still, dry warm and sunny day. Temperature: Max 21- Min 15 C.

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