Bittersweet Solace


This showy bush caught my eye a couple months back but the photos ended up buried in my archive until recently. As the shape of the leaves, flowers, and fruit all suggest, Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) is in the same family as the tomato.

Native to Europe and Asia it has been in North America since the 1800s, probably brought over for its many medicinal purposes, including warding off witchcraft. Necklaces were woven from the branches and worn for protection from the “evil eye”. *

The first part of its binomial actually refers to this attribute, stemming from the Latin root word for solace. The second, describes the taste of the fruit which, while favored by birds, is mildly poisonous to humans.

*Now that I know this maybe I’ll bring some home. I’m not necessarily superstitious but with the way this year is going, it couldn’t hurt. At the very least, it might be pretty.

Categories: Nature Notes

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