Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Eastern Black Nightshade - Solanum emulans   Rafinesque
Members of Solanaceae:
Members of Solanum with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Family Solanaceae
DistributionEssentially throughout the state, with numerous small gaps that do not appear to be real gaps in the range.

This is a wide-ranging species in the East and Midwest, occurring over most of this region.
AbundanceFairly common to common across the state, though much less numerous everywhere than is S. carolinense.
HabitatThis is a native species found in ruderal habitats, somewhat like that of S. carolinense. It grows in weedy fields, roadsides, wooded margins, and similar places -- though is less likely to grow in gardens and croplands as is the other species.
PhenologyBlooms from June to frost, and fruits shortly after flowering.
IdentificationThis is an erect species, with a smooth stem that is unarmed (no spines), and a few branches, growing to about 2 feet tall. It has alternate leaves, mostly triangular to ovate, about 3 inches long and 1.5 inches wide, with variable teeth and lobes. Some leaves can be entire, though most have some teeth, but usually not as strongly lobed as in S. carolinense. The flower clusters are mostly axillary, with several flowers in a cluster. Each is white to lavender-white, with 5 pointed (often reflexed) petals and a spread of only about 1/3-inch across at most. In this species, the berry is shiny black, about 1/3-inch across, very different from the orange-yellow berry in the other species. Be careful to separate this species from the quite similar S. pseudogracile, of coastal habitats. That species is quite hairy/pubescent on the stem and leaves.
Taxonomic CommentsThis species has been shuffled around quite a bit in name over the decades. Most references called it as S. nigrum in the past, and then some moved it to S. americanum, which Weakley (2018) says is a misapplied name. Most recently, in a 2019 paper by Sandra Knapp, it has been treated as S. emulans Rafinesque.

Other Common Name(s)American Black Nightshade, West Indian Nightshade
State Rank[S5]
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
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B.A. SorriePiedmont, bank by Deep River, within flood zone, Sept 2020. MoorePhoto_natural
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