Invasive Speciesbittersweet nightshade

Solanum dulcamara
FOUND by chem
Cape Elizabeth
ID Confirmed
Quality checked by gardenerguy
Peer reviewed by victorioussecret
Field Notes
At first when trying to find our plant we mistook it for another bush. After looking at the bush, we discovered the size and leaves were wrong. So, we then moved on to a different area around our school grounds. Attached to a fence we found our plant. To make sure we were right this time we checked the leaves and examined the stem/vine. Also the season we're in is October so we made sure the plant contained red/orange berries. After checking the plant with our notes, we confirmed we had found the right plant. Then we took pictures in the cool afternoon air, and measured the plant with the quadrat user placement method.
A sketch of our study site.
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
Our group believes we found our plant, bittersweet nightshade. One piece of evidence that led us to believe we found it was the oval shaped berries. The plant grows purple flowers in the spring, but during October, the month we're in while doing the research, the plant has shiny red/orange berries. These tiny rain drop shaped berries are dangerous to humans/pets, but can be spread around by the birds.
Photo of my evidence.
Another piece of evidence that we found were the leaves. During the spring, the leaves are green and healthy while the purple flowers bloom. When the fall and winter come the leaves turn a purple color so some are green and some are purple. Also the leaves are arrow shaped that contains an earlobe-like base. Finally, all of the stems have multiple leaves attached.
Photo of my evidence.
Our final piece of evidence was the stem/vine. The stem wrapped itself around the black wired fence and allowed the plant to be flexible. The bottom of the plant looks like a piece of wood, but the upper part moves easily and very flexible. One last piece of evidence is that when the stems break off and are crushed, the smell is horrible.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Solanum dulcamara
Common name:
bittersweet nightshade
Sampling method: 
Quadrat (user-placement)
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
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Map this species
N 43.595084 °
W -70.230880 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Upland - Field
Trip Information
CEMS School Grounds 2012
Trip date: 
Mon, 2012-10-15 08:34
Town or city: 
Cape Elizabeth
Type of investigation: 
Species Survey


Tell us more about that horrible smell! I'm impressed with your work, and hope you report more species in Cape Elizabeth.

You can use your scientific nose to ID sweet fern, gray birch, ....

That's a lot of berries with great potential to be eaten and transported by birds. Do you think the Cape community should do anything about this species, or let it grow where it may?

I don't know if we are going to do another invasive species report in Cape Elizabeth, we might! I don't think that Cape Elizabeth needs to worry to much about this invasive species because it hasn't been a great threat to people. If it gets to be a problem, then we should address this problem.

Thanks for your comment back! Do you think it's a threat to the native plants and animals in that habitat? Or do you think we should just be concerned when humans are impacted by invasive species?

You can do VS observations on your own outside of class. Share more of chem's sketches and great photos!

Awesome sketch. I think you captured the shape of the leaf really nicely. Aren't the leaves a funky shape?

I wonder why these berries can be eaten by birds but not mammals. I wonder what chemical is toxic to us and not birds?


The berries are very toxic to us humans and pets. It has caused a lot of poisoning and deaths. Although, it has a very strong unpleasant smell that keeps things away from it a lot of the time.

It has solanine in it, which is also found in green tomatoes, and not very deadly. It also has a glycoside called dulcamarine, which is a bad toxin found also in deadly nightshade, so it is very poisonous.

I hope this helps with your questions!

Chem :)

We'd love to know why! Do you know?

I think this article and you guys are really awesome! I also think that if this is a school project, you guys should get an A+!!!


Thank you!