Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Genus:Solanum
Family:Solanaceae (Potato)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:southeast US
Status:
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; agricultural fields, roadsides, waste areas
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Clusters of stalked flowers opposite a leaf in the upper plant and at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are about ¾ inch across, star-shaped with 5 triangular petals fused in the lower half, white to violet and green at the base. The petals are mostly spreading but may be curled back. Protruding from the center are 5 stout yellow stamens surrounding a straight, slender, green style.

[photo of calyx] The calyx has 5 long lobes with a long taper to a pointed tip and typically spreading at the tip. The calyx and flower stalks are covered in star-shaped hairs and sparse prickles.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oblong to egg-shaped in outline, 2 to 6 inches long, up to 3 inches wide, both surfaces covered in star-shaped hairs, on a short stalk. Leaf edges are often wavy, and toothless but shallowly lobed, the lobes typically angular and resembling large teeth.

[photo of prickles on stem and leaves] Stems and major veins on the underside of leaves are variously covered in sharp, yellowish prickles. Stems are green and covered in star-shaped hairs. Colonies may be formed from creeping rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a round berry, about ½ inch in diameter, that ripens to yellow and becomes wrinkly when mature.

Notes:

Native to the US farther south and east of Minnesota, Horse Nettle is considered adventive here, but with climate change its natural range will naturally spread northward so in a few years it might treated as a native species after all. It was once an agricultural pest and listed as a county-level noxious weed but Round-up Ready crops took care of that.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dzuik taken at a nursery in Sherburne County.

Comments

Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Cooper C - Kasota Scientific and Natural Area
on: 2017-06-21 17:03:15

Found two of these near the parking lot at Kasota SNA.

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