The nightshade family represents a large plant family, well staffed with multi-faceted characters. Some representatives are literally on everyone’s lips every day, such as potatoes and tomatoes. Other members of the family go unrecognized because they are rarely identified as Solanaceae, like petunias. With a few exceptions, the nightshade family has one attribute in common: under certain circumstances, leaves and fruits are poisonous. The following list of popular genera and species would like to bring you a little closer to the interesting group of plants. It might even contain one or the other inspiration for your home garden.

Nightshade family used as ornamental plants

The pretty flowers in beautiful colors have qualified a large number of genera within the nightshade family as popular ornamental plants in the home garden and in parks. The genera result in enchanting species, which in turn lead to thousands of varieties whose enumeration would go beyond any scope. The following list of popular genera and their species serves as a guide to beautiful hybrids in this regard.

  • Sorcerer’s Tree (Latua pubiflora)
  • Bocksdorne (Lycium)
  • Boucetia (Solanum boucetia)
  • Browalie (Browallia speciosa)
  • Brunfelsie (Brunfelsia pauciflora var. pauciflora)
  • Calibrachoa (Solanum calibrachoa)
  • Carolina nightshade, horse nettle (Solanum carolinense)
  • Don Junan Pflanze (Juanolloa)
  • Triflorum nightshade (Solanum triflorum)
  • Angel Trumpets (Brugmansia)
    • Pink flower angel trumpets (Burgmansia versicolor)
  • Enzianstrauch (Lycianthes rantonnetii)
  • Fabianastrauch (Fabiana)
  • Hammerstrauch (Cestrum elegans)
  • Jasmine Nightshade (Solanum laxum)
  • Imperial Trumpets (Superbissima)
  • Korallenstrauch (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
  • Korkrindenbaum, Peturienbaum (Duboisia)
  • Creeping whitecup (Nierembergia repens)
  • Solanum mammosum
  • Jaborosa (Jaborosa)
  • Lampionblume (Physalis alkekengi)
  • Melon Leaf Nightshade (Solanum citrullifolium)
  • Night Jasmin (Cestrum nocturnum)
  • Petunien (Petunia)
    • Violette Petunie (Petunia integrifolia)
    • Weißblütige Petunie (Petunia axillaris)
  • Saracho nightshade (Solanum sarrachoides)
  • Spaltblumen (Schizanthus)
    • Abgestumpfte Spaltblume (Schizanthus grahamii Gill. Ex Hooker)
    • Pinnate Gap Flower (Schizanthus pinnatus Ruiz & Pav.)
    • Spotted split-flower (Schizanthus × wisetonensis)
  • Stechapfel (Datura)
    • Dorniger Stechapfel (Datura ferox L.)
    • Datura (Datura stramonium L.)
    • Großblütiger Stechapfel (Datura inoxia Mill.)
    • Indian thorn apple (Datura metel)
  • Trompetenzunge (Salpiglossis)
  • Violet bush (Iochroma)
  • White Cup (Nierembergia)
    • Creeping whitecup (Nierembergia repens)
    • Schmalblättriger Weißbecher (Nierembergia linariifolia Grah.)
    • Shrub White Cup (Nierembergia scoparia Sendtn.)
  • Woolly nightshade (Solanum mauritianum)
  • Magic bells (Calibrachoa)
    • ‚Deep Yellow‘ (Calibrachoa Callie ‚Deep Yellow‘)
    • Rapsberry’ (Calibrachoa Celebration Rapsberry’)
    • ‚Million Bells‘ (Calibrachoa ‚Million Bells‘)
    • ‚Sweet Bells Blueberry‘ (Calibrachoa ‚Sweet Bells Blueberry‘)
  • Ziertabak (Nicotiana x sanderae)

Species suitable for consumption

In the assessment of suitability as food, the respective toxin content of nightshade plants always plays a role. With a few exceptions, the fruits are either not intended for consumption at all or only when they are ripe.

  • Duckberries, Fennel (Physalis peruviana)
  • Aubergine, Eierfrucht (Solanum melongena)
    • Thai-Aubergine (Solanum virginianum L.)
  • Bladder Cherries (Physalis)
    • Capstachelbeere (Physalis peruviana L.)
    • Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica Lam.)
  • Wolfberry (Lycium barbarum)
  • Yellow-fruited nightshade, red-fruited nightshade (Solanum villosum)
  • Jerusalemkirsche (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
  • Kartoffel (Solanum tuberosum)
  • Lulo (Solanum quitoense)
  • Paprika/Chili/Peperoni (Capsicum)
    • Chili peppers (Capsicum baccatum, Capsicum chinense, Capsicum pubescens, Capsicum frutescens)
    • Peppers, Chili, Spanish fries (Capsicum annuum)
  • Pepino, Melonenbirne (Solanum muricatum)
  • Tomate ( Solanum Lycorpericon)
    • Pear-shaped tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum var. pyriforme)
    • Tomato Cocktail, Kirsch-Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum var. Cerasiforme)
    • Galapagos Tomate (Lycopersicon cheesmanii)
    • Johannisbeer Tomato (Lycopersicon esculentum var. Pimpinellifolium)
    • Kultur Tomate (Lycopersicon esculentum var. esculentum)
  • Sleeping Berry, Ashwagandha (Sanskrit)
  • Schwarzbeeren (Solanum x burbankii)
  • Sodomsapfel (Solanum linnaeanum)
  • Tamarillo, Baumtomate (Solanum betaceum)
  • Winterbeere (Withania somnifera)

Species with intoxicating effects

Since antiquity, some nightshade plants have been said to have an intoxicating effect. For a few, this fact has been more or less confirmed, such as tobacco. In other species, the wish is more likely to act as the father of the thought. The fact is that no nightshade plant is subject to the German Narcotics Act.

  • Lady of the Night (Cestrum laevigatum)
  • Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna var. lutea)
  • Mandrake, Hangman (Mandragora officinarum)
    • Herbst-Alraune (Mandragora autumnalis)
  • Bilsenkraut (Hyoscyamus official)
    • Black Henbane (Hyoscyamus niger)
    • White Henbane (Hyoscyamus albus)
  • Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna)
  • Stechäpfel (Datura)
    • Toloache (Datura inoxia)
    • Datura stramonium (Datura stramonium)
  • Tabak (Nicotiana tabacum)
    • Farmhouse tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
    • Baumtabak (Nicotiana glauca)
    • Burley Tabak (Nicotiana tabacum)
    • Kentucky Tabak (Nicotiana tabacum)
    • Orienttabak (Nicotiana tabacum)
    • Virginia Tabak (Nicotiana tabacum)

medicinal plants

In homeopathy, various nightshade plants are used to treat all kinds of complaints, such as headaches, vomiting, inflammation or visual disturbances. In view of the high toxin content of this nightshade family, excellent knowledge is required in the preparation.

  • Bittersweet nightshade, viperwood (Solanum dulcamara)
  • Yellow-berry nightshade (Solanum luteum)
  • Krainer Tollkraut (Scopolia carniolica)
  • Black nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
  • Teat-shaped nightshade (Solanum mammosum)

Varieties of the 3 most popular nightshade species

Within the plant family of the nightshade family, potatoes, tomatoes and peppers undisputedly dominate the rankings. As food, they have become indispensable in everyday life. Within these species, hobby gardeners have taken the following varieties particularly to their hearts:

Kartoffel (Solanum tuberosum)

  • Adelina – mid-early, waxy
  • Ackersegen – late, mealy boiling
  • Afra – mehligkochend
  • Agnes – medium early, mostly sticky
  • Agria – boiling, hardy
  • Annabelle – very early, sticky
  • Augusta – nematodenresistent, mehlig
  • Axona – bright red skin, resistant
  • Belana – taste winner, waxy
  • Belinda – mid-early, mostly waxy
  • Bildstar – ideal boiled potatoes
  • Birte – early, mainly waxy
  • Blue Swede – medium early, mainly firm
  • Charlotte – mid-early, sticky
  • Cilena – can be stored for a long time, deep yellow flesh
  • Ditta – mid-early, sticky
  • Elvira – early, sticky
  • Felsina – medium early, mostly firm
  • Finka – very early, mostly waxy
  • Early gold – very early, sticky
  • Gala – early, mostly waxy
  • Gloria – very early, mainly sticky
  • Hansa – mid-early, waxy
  • Gunda – sticky, resistant
  • Laura – waxy, mid-early
  • Krone – medium early, predominantly firm
  • Nicola – mid-early, waxy
  • Princess – early, waxy, delicious
  • Quarta – predominantly waxy, mid-early
  • Sarpo Mira – medium late, waxy
  • Secura – medium early, mostly sticky
  • Selma – mid-early, sticky

Tomate (Solanum Lycorpericon)

  • Agro – medium early bottle tomato
  • Amati – very early stick tomato
  • Aphen – sweet stick tomato
  • Belriccio – aromatic beef tomato
  • Bolzano – orange vine tomato
  • Conqueror – new plum tomato
  • Corazon – particularly resistant, few cores
  • Corianne – high-yielding bottle tomato
  • Country Tase – very large beefsteak tomato
  • Caprese – Italian bottle tomato
  • Cupido – gourmet date tomato, very sweet
  • Dasher – cherry tomato with a sweet flavor
  • Delizia – orange-red fruits with deep grooves
  • Diploma – early stick tomato
  • Dolce Vita – bright red cherry tomatoes
  • Fantasio – Extremely resistant to disease
  • Fourstar – eye-catching oxheart tomatoes
  • Harzglut – very early stick tomato
  • Johannisbeertomate – small Wildtomate
  • Kalimba – very large fruits
  • Maestria – hardy variety with large fruits
  • Maranello – Good quality aromatic tomato
  • Matias – very early beef tomato
  • Olivade – modern egg tomatoes
  • Fantasy – Resistant Stabtomate

Historical Tomatoes

  • Nonna Antonia – very robust variety with huge fruits
  • Sandul Moldovan – pink to light red fruits
  • Black Prince – Exotic tomatoes colored black

Paprika (Capsicum)

  • Agio – brightly colored Hungarian paprika
  • Bendigo – early ripening sweet pepper
  • Bendigo – high-yielding block peppers
  • Gourmet – early, stable pepper
  • Ice Age – very small berries
  • Jalahot – spicy Jalapeno-Paprika
  • Lipari – pointed fruits
  • Monte – blocky fruits, very resistant
  • Multi – very good balcony peppers with yellow fruits
  • Narobi – orangefarbener Blockpaprika
  • Pinocchio – delicious Aroma pepper
  • Tommy – Fruits are similar to tomatoes

Chili – the paprika for hot eaters

Hobby gardeners with a penchant for spicy foods prefer to cultivate varieties with a high proportion of capsaicin. The degree of spiciness is usually rated in steps from 1 for mildly spicy to 10 for mercilessly hot.

  • Apache – high-yielding variety (severity 4)
  • Black Cluster – black, round, razor sharp (severity 10)
  • Bhut Jolokia – orange berries (level 10)
  • Caloro – orange berries (severity 3)
  • Candlelight – red mini pods (level of heat 2)
  • Ciltepin – small red chilies with pep (spiciness level 9)
  • Habanero Red – classic variety in red (severity 10)
  • Jalapeno Jaloro – a classic sharpener (level 5)
  • Jamaican Hot Chocolate – chili with chocolate flavor (level 10)
  • Tequila Sunrise – yellow pods, very mild (degree of heat 1)
  • Trifetti – red to purple pods (level 7 of heat)
  • Yellow Cayenne – elongated, yellow fruits (severity 6)

Never underestimate the poison content

The large plant family of the nightshade family may differ significantly in many respects. With regard to their more or less pronounced venom content, special attention should be paid to each species.

Alkaloids and steroids are of outstanding importance. Nicotine is considered an alkaloid, just like the capsaicin in chili. Consumed in excess, both lead to symptoms of poisoning up to a threat to life and limb. This also applies to potatoes, which have a high solanine content when raw. If potatoes are stored in the cellar, a healthy tuber contains 5 to 7 milligrams of solanine per 100 grams. A lethal dose starts at a level of 400 milligrams, which corresponds to 4 to 10 kilograms of raw potatoes. For sensitive people, unpleasant side effects can occur even with small amounts of solanine. Consequently, raw, green or sprouting potatoes should not be consumed. Sufficiently long cooking reduces the solanine content to a minimum.

This can be transferred to other nightshade plants, such as tomatoes. When they are fully ripe and deep red, they do not pose any health threats. They should not be eaten while they are still green and possibly still pickled.

Hobby gardeners who cultivate a nightshade plant as an ornamental plant take into account the toxin content when caring for it. As allergic reactions can occur, wearing protective clothing, a breathing mask and glasses is essential.

In addition, it is a no-no to grow datura, ornamental tobacco or deadly nightshade where there are children or pets.

Without nightshades, ornamental gardens and kitchen gardens would be significantly poorer. Beautiful flowering plants like the angel’s trumpet and even staple foods like the potato were missing. The poison content, which is common to almost all members, influences the care work and the preparation for consumption. So it is recommended to always wear gloves, respirator and goggles when treating a nightshade plant. In addition, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers and aubergines should not be eaten raw, unripe or sprouting.

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