Solanum dulcamara (Scientific name)

General Poisoning Notes:

Climbing nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) is a naturalized woody vine that is found along fencerows, among shrubbery, and at wood edges across most of southern Canada. The plant, especially in its green immature fruits, contains steroidal alkaloids, which have caused poisoning in cattle and sheep. Humans may have been poisoned after ingesting immature berries. Recent experiments show that the mature red berries contain only a small amount of toxin and have little chance of harming children (Alexander et al. 1948, Cooper and Johnson 1984, Hornfeldt and Collins 1989).

References:

  • Alexander, R. F., Forbes, G. B., Hawkins, E. S. 1948. A fatal case of solanine poisoning. Br. Med. J., 2: 518.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Hornfeldt, C. S., Collins, J. E. 1989. Determination of the toxicity of nightshade berries, Solanum dulcamara. Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 31: 363.
  • Hornfeldt, C. S., Collins, J. E. 1990. Toxicity of nightshade berries (Solanum dulcamara) in mice. Clin. Toxicol., 28: 185-192.
  • Keeler, R. F., Baker, D. C., Gaffield, W. 1990. Spirosolane-containing Solanum species and induction of congenital craniofacial malformations. Toxicon, 28: 873-884.

Nomenclature:

Scientific Name:
Solanum dulcamara L.
Vernacular name(s):
climbing nightshade
Scientific family name:
Solanaceae
Vernacular family name:
nightshade

Go to ITIS*ca for more taxonomic information on: Solanum dulcamara

References:

  • Agriculture Quebec. 1975. Noms des maladies des plantes du Canada/ Names of plant diseases in Canada, Quebec City, Que., Canada. 288 pp.
  • Alex, J. F., Cayouette, R., Mulligan, G. A. 1980. Common and botanical names of weeds in Canada/ Noms populaire et scientifiques des plantes nuisibles du Canada. Revised. Agric. Can. Publ., Ottawa, Ont., Canada. 132 pp.
  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Scoggan, H. J. 1978, 1979. The flora of Canada. Nat. Mus. Nat. Sci. (Ottawa) Publ. Bot. 7(1)-7(4). 1711 pp.
  • Van Wijk, H. L. 1911. A dictionary of plant names. Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, The Netherlands. 1444 pp.
  • Victorin, M. 1964. Flore Laurentienne. 2nd ed. Univ. Montreal, Montreal, Que., Canada. 952 pp.

Geographic Information

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland
  • Nova Scotia
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan

References:

  • Bailey, L. H., Bailey, E. Z. 1976. Hortus third. Revised. MacMillan, New York, N.Y., USA. 1290 pp.
  • Boivin, B. 1966, 1967. Énumération des plantes du Canada. Provencheria 6. Nat. Can. (Que.) 93: 253-274; 371-437; 583-646; 989-1063. 94: 131-157; 471-528; 625-655.

Image or Illustration

Images: Solanum dulcamara - Google search

Notes on Poisonous Plant Parts:

The immature green berries of climbing nightshade have been shown to be toxic to hamsters and mice. Mature red berries did not cause symptoms in mice. Doses were administered (8 mg/kg by orogastric needle) and symptoms occurred within 5-24 h when green berries were given. Ripened berries of climbing nightshade do not appear to present a hazard to children (Baker et al. 1989, Hornfeldt and Collins 1989).

Toxic Parts:

  • immature fruit
  • leaves

References:

  • Baker, D. C., Keeler, R. F., Gaffield, W. 1989. Pathology in hamsters administered Solanum plant species that contain steroidal alkaloids. Toxicon, 27: 1331-1337.
  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.
  • Hornfeldt, C. S., Collins, J. E. 1989. Determination of the toxicity of nightshade berries, Solanum dulcamara. Vet. Hum. Toxicol., 31: 363.

Notes on Toxic Plant Chemicals:

Immature green berries of climbing nightshade contain parent steroidal alkaloid aglycones: 50% solasodine and 50% of another aglycone thought to be soladulcidine. The total alkaloid concentration has been found to be 0.030% of dry matter in the green berries. Water gavage of dry green fruit suspension caused some deaths when given at the rate of 1.4-2.0 g per hamster (avg. wt. 190 g) (Baker et al. 1989).

Toxic Plant Chemicals:

  • soladulcidine
  • solanine
  • solasodine

References:

  • Baker, D. C., Keeler, R. F., Gaffield, W. 1989. Pathology in hamsters administered Solanum plant species that contain steroidal alkaloids. Toxicon, 27: 1331-1337.

Animals/Human Poisoning:

Note: When an animal is listed without additional information, the literature (as of 1993) contained no detailed explanation.

Cattle

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

Cattle that ingested the plant in Britain exhibited symptoms of nervousness, rapid pulse, incoordination, and edema to the front part of the body. The flesh of a slaughtered animal smelled strongly of the plant (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

Humans

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

A child who probably ingested the berries of climbing nightshade died 2 days after exhibiting symptoms of vomiting, weakness, thirst, abdominal pain, dyspnea, and cyanosis. Postmortem examination showed acute inflammation of the mucosa of the stomach and intestines. An alkaloid (7 mg) characteristic of solanine was found in the liver. The evidence is not conclusive, but the child was eating blackberries in an area full of climbing nightshade berries (Alexander et al. 1948).

References:

  • Alexander, R. F., Forbes, G. B., Hawkins, E. S. 1948. A fatal case of solanine poisoning. Br. Med. J., 2: 518.
  • Hornfeldt, C. S., Collins, J. E. 1990. Toxicity of nightshade berries (Solanum dulcamara) in mice. Clin. Toxicol., 28: 185-192.

Rodents

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

Tests with mice show that ingesting green (unripe) berries can cause gastroenteritis lesions, labored breathing, and lethargy. Villous atrophy of the small intestine also occurred. The red (ripe) berries did not cause any problems (Hornfeldt and Collins 1990). Tests with unripe berries on pregnant hamsters induced congenital craniofacial malformations in fetuses in 16% of cases. Dosages administered were high, resulting in the death of some dams. Severe gastrointestinal necrosis caused the deaths. Fetuses showed encephalocele with occasional cleft palate and harelip. Another member of the genus (Solanum sarrachoides Sendt.; hairy nightshade) also caused a few problems in fetuses, but the numbers were not statistically significant (Keeler et al. 1990).

References:

  • Hornfeldt, C. S., Collins, J. E. 1990. Toxicity of nightshade berries (Solanum dulcamara) in mice. Clin. Toxicol., 28: 185-192.
  • Keeler, R. F., Baker, D. C., Gaffield, W. 1990. Spirosolane-containing Solanum species and induction of congenital craniofacial malformations. Toxicon, 28: 873-884.

Sheep

General Symptoms of Poisoning:

Notes on Poisoning:

In one case in Britain, sheep ingested climbing nightshade plant material and developed rapid respiration, feeble pulse, elevated temperature, dilated pupils, and green diarrhea, then death. Postmortem findings showed dark, tarry blood, contracted ventricles, and plant material in the stomach (Cooper and Johnson 1984).

References:

  • Cooper, M. R., Johnson, A. W. 1984. Poisonous plants in Britain and their effects on animals and man. Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, England. 305 pp.

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