Quick Facts

Quick facts

  • White-edge Nightshade (Solanum marginatum) is a native plant from Africa that is aprickly shrub with white flowers and yellow fruits.
  • It is found in coastal or near coastal areas of south-eastern Australia.
  • Its fruits are toxic to people.
  • It has limited dispersal potential by birds or mammals but may also spread by rhizomes.

What Does It Look Like?

What is it?

White-edge Nightshade (Solanum marginatum) is a shrub that grows to around 1.5 m high and broad. The stems are silvery white with a covering of minute star-shaped hairs  at first, maturing to dull green as the hairs wear away and with scattered prickles about 10mm long. The leaves are arranged alternately along the stem,  stalked (the stalks 15–25 mm long), dull deep green on the upper surface, white underneath with a dense covering of minute star-shaped hairs,  broadly ovate (oval and widest below the middle),  mostly 100–120 mm long and 80–100 mm wide, sometimes up to 200 x 180 mm, with 3–6 shallow rounded lobes along each edge and several, broad-based, straight prickles 10–12 mm long above and below.

The flowers are borne in loose clusters of 2-10 on the stem between the leaves, often below the base of every second leaf; they are stalked, 30–40 mm in diameter, saucer-shaped, pentagonal, with 5 short, pointed lobes, predominantly white, with bright yellow centre (the anthers). The green calyx (cup-shaped outer covering at the base) has 5 long lobes and is often covered in a variable number of prickles.

The lower flowers in each cluster develop into fruits. The  fruits are globular, pale to bright yellow when mature, 30–40 mm diameter and fleshy or juicy rather like a small tomato; they contain several hundred seeds. The seeds are flattish, with a finely granular surface,  light brown in colour and 2–2.5 mm long (Symon 1981).

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

Flower colour

White with a yellow centre

Growth form (weed type/habit)


Where it currently grows? Preferred habitat

White-edge Nightshade has at times been planted as a garden ornamental and may at times escape from cultivation; it can occur as a a weed in gardens or abandoned gardens, on roadsides, in waste places and in coastal dunes (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Tasmanian Government 2019; AVH 2021).

Are there similar species?

White-edge Nightshade is sometimes mistaken for Apple-of-Sodom (Solanum linnaeanum) but that species has brighter green, elliptic leaves that are more deeply lobed, more robust prickles (to 15 mm long), pale purple-blue flowers (sometimes almost white) and smaller berries (20–30 mm diameter).

Why Is It A Weed?

What are its impacts?

Agriculture: White-edge Nightshade is not currently a serious weed of agriculture.

Native ecosystems: This species can invade natural coastal environments in south-eastern Tasmania and has potential to become a serious environmental weed (Tasmanian Government 2019)

Human impacts: There is a human impact because the plant bears prickles and the berries are poisonous (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

How does it spread?

White-edge Nightshade is dispersed by seed but because the berries are not of great interest to birds and other animals and therefore rarely ingested, spread seems to be restricted. Some spread may occur over short distances with local flooding or over longer distances when seeds are present in soil that is moved in roadworks or gardening (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001). There is also potential for spread by rhizomes (creeping underground stems) (Symon 1981).

What is its history in Australia?

White-edge Nightshade was introduced to Australia as an ornamental garden shrub (Symon 1981; Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001); it first became naturalised in Victoria in 1883 and probably about the same time in Tasmania (Symon 1981).  It has probably escaped from cultivation at different sites on several occasions.

How To Manage It?

Best practice management

Non-chemical control: Manual control: If practical, White-edge Nightshade plants should be dug out, taking care to gather any fruits that may be dislodged. 

Chemical control: Mowing or slashing, followed by application of herbicide to the cut stumps is also generally effective where feasible. Alternatively, a foliar herbicide can be applied during periods of active growth (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

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)

Flowers may first appear on White-edge Nightshade when plants are less than 1 year old, but extensive flowering does not occur until the second year. Flowering occurs from October to February, while fruits may be found throughout the year. Plants persist through all seasons (Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001).

Where Is It Found?

Which states and territories is it found?


What areas within states and territories is it found?

White-edge Nightshade is naturalised in near coastal areas of South Australia, Victoria, and particularly in Tasmania. (Symon 1981; Parsons & Cuthbertson 2001; Tasmanian Government 2019).

Where does it originate?

White-edge Nightshade originates from north-east Africa, specifically Eritrea and Ethiopia (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 marginatum

Other scientific names (synonyms)?


Does it have other known common name(s)?

White-edged Nightshade; White Margin Nightshade

Blackberry – a community-driven approach in Victoria

Blackberry the weed (Rubus fruticosus aggregate) was first introduced to Australia by European settlers in the mid-1800s as a fruit. It was recognised as a weed by mid-1880s. Blackberry is a serious issue across Australia. It is estimated that blackberry infests approximately 8.8 million hectares of land at an estimated cost of $103 million in annual control and production losses.

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