Can you identify these plants?
August 24, 2009 6:03 PM   Subscribe

Can you help me identify this berry plant in my backyard?

I am in Santa Fe, NM at about 7500 feet. The whole plant is about 3 feet high and spreading to around 10 feet around. My Curious-George inspired 3 year old is picking them and who knows if she is eating them...

Thanks in advance!
posted by H. Roark to Home & Garden (8 answers total)
Nightshade. The black, ripe berries are edible, but the unripe ones are NOT.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:10 PM on August 24, 2009

Info here. It may be difficult to tell from other species, so you're probably better off getting them out of there.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:16 PM on August 24, 2009

Best answer: oops. I meant HERE.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 6:17 PM on August 24, 2009

Nightshade. The black, ripe berries are edible, but the unripe ones are NOT.

First, I'm assuming we're talking about a garden huckleberry, and not some other nightshade.

The couple of citations I've found indicate that they're non-toxic if and only if they're both perfectly ripe and cooked.

In any other state, they're apparently quite toxic.
posted by Netzapper at 6:21 PM on August 24, 2009

Response by poster: thanks guys, I think I'm gonna pull 'um out.
posted by H. Roark at 6:22 PM on August 24, 2009

Seconding Netzapper. (I have these growing wild in my yard, right alongside S. dulcamara - didn't know what they were. My "Hmm... those look like itty bitty gooseberries, only they turn purple. Probably poisonous," was on track.) Get rid of it, but be prepared for both self-seeding and a deep root system.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 8:00 PM on August 24, 2009


The ripe berries are not poisonous, but they will leave a strong coppery aftertaste, which is why you blanche them with baking soda.

Use about 1 tbsp baking soda per 2 cups water. Boil, add berries, wait 30 seconds, then drain. Makes excellent jam.
posted by yesster at 1:54 AM on August 25, 2009

Isn't "nightshade" a pretty unspecific id?

Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, and Eggplants are all "nightshades" and we generally don't look on them as poison.

There's a "deadly nightshade" and that sounds bad. The first link in kalessin's post says this:
Human poisoning is usually accidental.The huckleberry looks very similar to black nightshade;it is even thoughtto be a domesticated form of the deadly nightshade plant. Children who eat huckleberries may mistake the purple-blackberries of the black nightshade for the delicious huckleberry and become poisoned.
posted by malphigian at 7:25 AM on August 25, 2009

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