Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • Cutleaf Nightshade (Solanum triflorum) is a prostrate herb with divided leaves and green streaked fruits.
  • It is native to Canada, the United States and Argentina.
  • It is found in temperate areas of southern Australia.
  • It is currently a minor weed in agricultural areas in Australia but in Europe is much more problematic.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

Cutleaf Nightshade (Solanum triflorum) is a low, sprawling or prostrate, annual herb, 0.3–1.5 m in diameter. The stems are mid green, covered in scattered, simple (not star-shaped), bristly hairs and are lacking prickles; they may be attached to the soil by roots produced at some of  the  nodes (where the leaves are attached). The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem, shortly stalked (the stalks 5–10 mm long), mid green to bright green on the upper and lower sides and covered in scattered bristly hairs (denser on the younger growth); they are ovate (oval and widest below the middle) to elliptic (widest at the middle) in outline, 20–40 mm long and 10–25 mm wide, deeply lobed (cut from three quarters of the way to almost all the way to the midrib), with 3–4, smooth or toothed, narrow, pointed lobes on each side; sometimes the leaves are only shortly lobed, when the lobes are angular and toothed. The leaves are tightly folded under at the edges, making them appear thick; they are always lacking prickles.  

The flowers are borne in stalked clusters of 1–3 along the stems between the leaves; they are small and inconspicuous, shortly stalked, star-shaped, with 5 narrowly triangular lobes, 5–6 mm diameter overall, white. The calyx (cup-shaped outer covering at the base) is green, very small and star-shaped; it lacks prickles. 

Most of the flowers in each cluster develop into fruits. The fruits are globular, 8–12 mm across, mid green and streaked or marbled pale green or greenish-white when mature; they are fleshy rather like a small tomato and contain 100–150 seeds. The seeds are more or less circular, with a rough surface, pale yellow or brownish yellow and 1.5–2 mm in diameter (Symon 1981; Purdie et al. 1982; VICFLORA 2018).

For further information or assistance with the identification of Cutleaf Nightshade contact the herbarium in your state or territory.

Flower colour


Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

Cutleaf Nightshade grows in sub-humid, warm-temperate, temperate and montane regions, with an annual rainfall of 400-1600 mm and with cold winters. It prefers open disturbed habitats in sandy to sandy loam soils. It has become naturalised along riverbanks, in stockyards, footpaths, paddocks and fallow areas after removal of crops (AVH 2021).

Are there similar species?

There are no  species similar to Cutleaf Nightshade in Australia.

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Agriculture: Cutleaf Nightshade occurs as a weed of agricultural districts in Australia, often associated with irrigated crops and at other times on nearby disturbed sites such as around dams, along farm tracks and along roadsides. However it does not appear to have become a problematic weed. In Europe Cutleaf Nightshade affects crop yields (through competition for nutrients and water) and crop quality, for example, as seed impurities. It can seriously reduce yields and quality of harvested crops, especially vegetables and legumes, fruits, etc (EPPO 2002). Although the ripe fruits of Cutleaf Nightshade are reportedly edible and ar a traditional food source used by the indigenous peoples of North American (Anon. 2007a) they have also been suspected of poisoning sheep and cattle (Purdie et al. 1982).

Native ecosystems:  Cutleaf Nightshade has been recorded as a weed from forest areas in New South Wales, especially in alluvial soils along stream sides, with other invasive weeds. It does not appear to have become aggressively invasive. 


How does it spread?

The seeds of Cutleaf Nightshade may be dispersed as a contaminant of legume and vegetable seeds, or in soil or other growing media (EPPO 2002).

What is its history in Australia?

Cutleaf Nightshade was first recorded as a naturalised plant in 1916 from Cooma, New South Wales (Symon 1981). The method of introduction is unknown.

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

There is currently no information available on control methods of Cutleaf Nightshade in Australia.

Chemical control: In Europe control is difficult and it is known to be resistant to many commonly used herbicides (EPPO 2002).

Please see the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority for chemical information http://www.apvma.gov.au 

Does it have a biological control agent?


When does it grow? (lifecycle/growth calendar)

Cutleaf Nightshade is an annual herb (Purdie et al. 1982; EPPO 2002). It flowers in late spring and summer (AVH 2021).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

Cutleaf Nightshade is naturalised in the wheatbelt region of south-western Western Australia; in southern agricultural districts of South Australia; at scattered sites widely in Victoria; and widely in montane and temperate areas in and west of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales.  It has been recorded in the border ranges region of far south-eastern Queensland and from around Hobart in Tasmania. but there are no recent records from either state (Purdie et al. 1982; DPIW 2007; AVH 2021). 

Where does it originate?

Cutleaf Nightshade originates from south-western Canada, the western half of the United States of America and Argentina (GRIN 2007).

National And State Weed Listings

Is it a Weed of National Significance (WONS)?


Where is it a declared weed?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the National Alert List for Environmental Weeds?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Is it on the Agricultural Sleeper List?


Government weed strategies and lists – Weeds Australia

Names And Taxonomy

Main scientific name

Solanum triflorum

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

Three-flowered Nightshade

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