Potato vine – flower bittersweet nightshade

Recently traveled to wild places under Kirovo-Chepetsk, to take samples of the water. And, here, on the banks of the river Prosnitsa, overgrown with willows, poured a sample of river water from the sampling bucket into the jar, straighten, and right in front of the face, the height of human growth, see natural flower of the potato.

On willow Bush. This is difficult with something confused: stellate Corolla lilac-purple, yellow column of fused stamens in the centre. And only then notice a twining stem with leaves, resembles the shape of an elongated heart like a loach. What is this vine growing in our area in the wild, of the nightshade family? As it turned out, this is a typical species of the family, bittersweet nightshade (lat. Solanum dulcamara), some consider him a creeper, some polukustarnikovoe. But here he uses willow thickets for support. It’s poisonous (like most Solanaceae) plant used in folk medicine.

Bittersweet nightshade (lat. Solanum dulcamara) is a species of Nightshade (Solanum) of the Nightshade family (Solanaceae). The species name of the plant connected with his fruit – berries that are first green, then yellow, and as they Mature turn red, and if they crack, then felt the taste at first sweet, then bitter. Vernacular names, mostly dissonant and not cause the big respect to this plant: Herald berries, wolf berries, listewnik, rattlesnake grass. But there are names suggestive of a its medicinal properties: scrofula, mother-grass.

Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara) belongs to the family Solanaceae and is distributed in temperate and subtropical regions of Europe, North Africa, Eastern and Western Asia, and North America. In our country it can be found throughout the European part of Russia (except the far North, the Volga and the Lower Volga), the Caucasus, South of Western and Eastern Siberia. The plant prefers rich and fertile soil in damp woods and thickets, especially in willows and black alder forests, banks of ponds, wet meadows, often weedy places and in housing.

Life form of plant – shrub, but some authors consider it a vine. Rhizome woody, creeping, much branched, sometimes tuberous-thickened. Stems climbing, perennial, 0.3 to 1.5 (2-3, up to 5) m tall, with woody lower part, up to 2-2,5(5) cm thick. Young shoots are buff-yellow, older is covered with grey wrinkled bark, at the base much branched, with divaricate branches, glabrous or sparsely covered with appressed hairs.

The leaves are large, to 2.5-12 cm long and 0.6-10 cm wide, alternate, oblong-ovate, entire, at base sometimes with ears. The flowers are purple, resembling the flowers of the potato, collected 8-18 in an almost corymbose inflorescence drooping. The fruit is juicy, seeded, ovoid, bright red berries. It blooms from may to September. The fruits ripen in July-September.

The plant is poisonous. The nightshade sweet-bitter glycoalkaloid contain solanine and glycoside, dulcomarin, like atropine pupil-dilation. Also found in the leaves of carotene, starch, protein substances. Green berries contain up to 2% steroid glycosides. Ripe fruits are much smaller. But in the old literature describes cases of poisoning with a fatal outcome, even red fruits. Poisoning most often occurs when eating (especially children) attractive red berries. Unlike black nightshade, nightshade fruits red when ripe do not lose their poisonous properties. There are the cases of poisoning careless lovers of herbal medicine.

Nightshade sweet-bitter – medicinal, poisonous, insecticidal, Candidaturas ornamental plant. The stems and leaves have insecticidal action, a decoction of them (5-6 kg of fresh stems in a bucket of water) used for spraying against caterpillars, and larvae of different insect species. In folk medicine, with the medical purpose apply young herbaceous shoots with leaves for skin diseases, especially itchy eczema and inflammation, bronchial asthma, colds, inflammation of the bladder, diarrhea, irregular menstruation, wound healing and as an anthelmintic.

The leaves are also used in dropsy, jaundice, whooping cough; externally – with scrofula and rheumatism; berries – sexually transmitted diseases, epilepsy, migraines, a decoction of the flowers – in lung diseases and catarrh of the respiratory tract.

The leaves and berries of nightshade sweet-bitter poisonous, they need to be treated only under medical supervision. They contain solanine glycoalkaloid, glucoside, dulcomarin, starch, resin, protein-substances. Dulcomarin, in its action similar to atropine. There are known cases of poisoning of animals and birds. Poisoning disrupts the coordination of movements in cattle causes diarrhea, palpitations.

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