Brazilian Nightshade
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Brazilian Nightshade
aturalized Photo: P.S. Sivaprasad
Common name: Brazilian Nightshade, climbing nightshade, deadly nightshade, • Kannada: Balli sunde
Botanical name: Solanum seaforthianum    Family: Solanaceae (Potato family)
Synonyms: Solanum venustum, Solanum prunifolium, Solanum cyrrhosum

Brazilian Nightshade is a flowering evergreen sprawling shurb or climber native to tropical South America. It is characterized by clusters of four to seven leaves and can climb to a height of 20 ft given enough room. Leaves are mostly pinnately cut into almost leaflets. Leaves are ovate in outline, 4-10 cm long, 3-6 cm wide, deeply lobed, both surfaces green and smooth except for hairs on margins and veins on lower surface. Leaf-stalk is 2-4 cm long. The plant blooms in the mid to late summer with clusters of star-shaped purple inflorescence followed by scarlet marble-sized berries. Inflorescences are 10-50-flowered, carried on 1-6 cm long stalks. The rachis is up to 10 cm long, flower-stalks 1-1.5 cm long. Sepal tube is 1.5-2.5 mm long, sepals about 1 mm long. Flowers are deeply incised, 2-3 cm across, mauve-blue. The plant is highly heat resistant, but cannot tolerate frost conditions. The plant contains modest amounts of various tropane alkaloids such as atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine and should be considered mildly toxic and inedible. The species has become widely naturalised outside its native range and is an invasive species in Australia, Africa, Indochina, the Pacific Islands and India, choking native vegetation and poisoning livestock.

Identification credit: Deepti Chauhan Photographed at Palakkad distt., Kerala & Nashik, Maharashtra.

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