Erect perennial, herb or shrub (short-lived), 0.3-1 m high. Fl. white, Jan to Dec.
Alternative Names. Nightshade, Potato Bush, Tomato Bush, Wild Currants, Petty Morel, Poisonberry, Garden Nightshade.
General Biology. Growth form. Herb. Life form. Annual. Reproduction. Seed. Dispersal. Birds, water, soil, machinery. Toxicity. Variably toxic. Green fruit and leaves may at times contain toxic alkaloids. Seedbank persistence. 5+ years.
Notes. Common agricultural and bushland weed. May be biennial particularly in milder conditions, where it may live from 2-5 years. Competes vigorously for space and nutrients. Morphologically variable. Has a taproot and many lateral roots, with a high shoot to root ratio. Flowering occurs 5-9 weeks after germination and continues until the plant dies. Early germinating plants take several weeks more to flower compared to late germinating plants. Produces prolific seed. Seed can have high germination rates (>90%) and germination is usually staggered. Alternating temperatures are required to break dormancy and lower light intensities or darkness are generally more favourable for germination. There is vigorous recruitment from soil stored seed in burnt and unburnt areas after rain. Levels of primary seed dormancy among populations, enabling it to maximise its chance of survival by regulating germination timing to favourable conditions. It is therefore best to time weed control measures to larger seedling flushes. Host to nematodes, fungi and viruses. Produces alkaloids, glycosides and accumulates nitrates.
Additional information. Origin. Likely Europe. History of use/introduction. Medicines. Similar exotic species. Solanum americanum.
Suggested method of management and control. Prevent seed set for several years. Hand weed small infestations. In bushland situations, manually remove plants before flowering. For large infestations, 1 L/ha Starane® (20 ml/10 L) applied when actively growing in summer, will provide reasonably selective control. Do not use in or near wetlands. Control infestations within 5 km of the target area to reduce dispersal of seed by birds. 1 L/ha 2,4-D amine (500 g/L) or 20 ml/10 L can also be used for control of young plants in early summer. Read the manufacturers' labels and material safety data sheets before using herbicides. For further information consult the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority to determine the status of permits for your situation or state.
Legend: Y = Yes, regularly, O = Occasionally, U = Uncertain, referred by others but not confirmed.
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Western Australian Herbarium (1998–). FloraBase—the Western Australian Flora. Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. https://florabase.dpaw.wa.gov.au/