Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Bittersweet Nightshade: So Sadly We Part


For a while now, I had been admiring some vines growing in various areas of my yard.  They had large, beautiful leaves, and gorgeous flowers with five brilliantly purple petals.  When I first moved here in the winter, I saw that they were berry producing vines, since the berries from the previous season had clung to one of the stems, even after the stem had died.

They've now come to bloom again, and have begun producing new, bright red berries.  I decided that it was time to find out exactly what they were.

I discovered the answer, and then I sat in sad silence.

Bittersweet Nightshade.
Solanum dulcamara


Why does this upset me so much?  Well, aside from the fact that this variety of nightshade is mildly poisonous, there's also the fact that it's on the Invasive Species list for the state.  It's not native to North America, and so it does a great job of destroying the native plant life.



Yep, capital letters and all.

I would love to allow the bitter nightshade to stay in my yard.  They're absolutely gorgeous, and they bring vibrant color into the scenery.  I can't keep it, though.

The fact is that a mildly poisonous berry is a danger to my daughter.

Like me, she enjoys picking berries and vegetables from the garden and popping them into her mouth within a few short moments.  I love this, and I refuse to stop allowing it.  It's good for her.

Unfortunately, as long as the bittersweet nightshade is in my yard, there's a chance she'll pick their berries, as well.  And who could blame her?  The berries look delicious.  She's too young to realize that they'll make her sick, even if she only has one.  At this age, words like "that's poisonous" mean very little, and are quickly forgotten.

Another reason that removal is necessary is that this isn't truly my yard.

I rent.  Allowing an invasive species to grow within the boundaries of a property that I'm supposed to care for in the absence of the owner is just wrong.  I have a responsibility in this regard, and I will not shirk it.

Not to mention that the DNR says I need to remove it.

This is actually the least important justification, in my mind, but it's a reason nonetheless.

So this beautiful, elegant, and smile forming vine needs to go.  This saddens me quite a bit.  At least I was able to enjoy it for a short while.  Oh, bittersweet nightshade...

Have you ever had to make a painful decision like this, regarding your yard?  How did you handle it?

Bittersweet indeed!


  1. I feel kind of the same way about Jimson weed. It's highly poisonous and used as a hallucinogen, but it's very pretty, with trumpeting white flowers that are almost like a lily.

    When my boyfriend and I were visiting the Botanical Gardens in Edinburgh Scotland, they had a greenhouse set up with plants from the arid American Southwest. Surprise! Jimson weed was one of the featured plants, along with an agave that was in bloom, with a stalk so tall they had to remove a portion of the glass roof. :D

    1. You're right - jimson weed really is beautiful.

      And the Botanical Gardens sound like an amazing experience! I've always loved the towering stalks of agave. The one there must have been awe-inspiring!