Silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium) is a ‘difficult to kill’ perennial herb that spreads by seeds and root fragments. It reduces crop yields and is poisonous to stock.
- grows to 800mm high
- leaves are silver-green and have approximately 4mm long yellow prickles on the undersides and on the stems
- flowers are to 35mm in diameter, with 5 fused purple petals and prominent yellow stamens
- fruit are round and berry-like, changing from green stripes to motley yellow and orange when mature
- fruit contain up to 150 seeds
- root system can penetrate to a depth of 2 metres.
Why is it a problem?
- poisonous to stock
- not easily controlled by herbicides or standardised management practices
- can reduce the yield of wheat crops by 50%
- competes with winter and perennial grass pastures by taking water and nutrients during the preceding summer.
- Murray Mallee, Northern and Yorke Peninsula – extensive
- South East, Eyre Peninsula – smaller scattered and isolated infestations.
- flowers from November to February
- mainly grows in spring and summer, semi dormant during winter
- grow in high and low rainfall, and in all soil types
- all parts of the plant are toxic.
How it spreads
- machinery (particularly cultivation equipment) transports root fragments from which new plants can grow
- fruits and seeds are consumed and spread by birds and livestock
- transported as a contaminant of hay and fodder products
- spread via floodwaters.