Grazing North Texas – Silverleaf Nightshade

Silverleaf nightshade flowers. (Photo by Tony Dean)

By Tony Dean 

Silverleaf nightshade is a native perennial forb that grows from one to three feet in height. It sprouts from deep, woody, creeping roots or from seed. Its silver color is caused in part by tiny densely matted hairs covering the entire plant. Sharp prickles are scattered over the stem and the underside of leaves. The leaves are one to five inches long and silver on the underside with wavy margins.

The flowers are violet to pale purple with five petals united at the base, and the anthers are large and yellow. The fruit is a yellow round berry about a half inch in diameter that turns darker with maturity.

This plant grows in all areas of Texas and in much of the southwestern United States and Mexico. It can be found in most soil types and often appears in disturbed areas.

Silverleaf nightshade is almost useless as forage for livestock because it can be poisonous to many domestic animals. However, deer eat the berries and new growth, quail eat the seeds and turkey consume the berries whole.

Silverleaf nightshade is in the potato family, as are many other plants such as tomatoes, eggplant, peppers, and tobacco. These plants produce a glycoalaloid, a natural pesticide that is normally in highest concentration in leaves, flowers, and fruits.

To read more pick up a copy of the September 2017 NTFR issue. To subscribe call 940-872-5922.

Silverleaf nightshade plant. (Photo by Tony Dean)