Sticky Nightshade Solanum sisymbriifolium

☠ Toxic to humans
🐾 Toxic to pets
🌸 Blooming
🍪 Not edible
‍🌱 Easy-care
sticky nightshade


Solanum sisymbriifolium, commonly known as the sticky nightshade, is an intriguing plant with a distinctive appearance. Its foliage is an eye-catching green, with leaves that showcase a deeply lobed and spiny edge, creating a somewhat prickly visage. The surfaces of the leaves often have a velvety texture, contributing to the plant’s unique tactile feel. The sticky nightshade blooms with radiant flowers that are star-shaped and vivid blue or purple, with striking yellow stamens, which offer a lovely contrast to the petals. These flowers stand out in the garden and can attract pollinators such as bees and butterflies. After the flowering phase, the plant produces fruit that resembles tiny tomatoes, starting as green and turning a lustrous red when ripe. These berries hang from the branches, dangling like small ornaments, yet it’s essential to note they are not edible and should be treated as ornamental only. The sticky nightshade possesses a bushy habit with branching stems that are also armed with thorns, adding to its formidable look. These thorns can span the canes and branches, serving as a deterrent to animals and an aspect to consider when humans interact with the plant. Overall, sticky nightshade is both beautiful and formidable, offering a mix of ornamental appeal and defensive characteristics. Its combination of spiny foliage, charming flowers, and striking fruits makes it a distinctive presence in any area where it is grown.

Plant Info
Common Problems

About this plant

  • memoNames

    • Family


    • Synonyms

      Sticky Nightshade, Litchi Tomato, Morelle De Balbis, Fire And Ice Plant, Red Buffalo-Bur.

    • Common names

      Solanum balbisii, Solanum ciliare, Solanum ciliatum, Solanum lacerum, Solanum lycopersicoides, Solanum morongii, Solanum pyracanthon, Solanum sisymbriifolium var. ciliatum, Solanum sisymbriifolium var. normale, Solanum sisymbriifolium var. subinerme, Solanum validum.

  • skullToxicity

    • To humans

      Solanum sisymbriifolium, commonly known as the sticky nightshade, is a member of the Solanaceae family, which includes some plants that are known to be toxic to humans. The toxicity of sticky nightshade to humans primarily arises from the presence of solanine, a glycoalkaloid that can be found in the plant. Ingesting parts of the plant, especially in large quantities, can lead to solanine poisoning. The symptoms of poisoning from solanine include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, dizziness, and in severe cases, it may cause neurological problems like ataxia or even respiratory failure. Consumption of the berries, leaves, or any other part of the plant can result in these toxic effects. It is therefore advised to avoid eating any part of the sticky nightshade plant.

    • To pets

      The sticky nightshade is also toxic to pets, including dogs and cats. As with humans, the presence of solanine in Solanum sisymbriifolium can cause toxicity. Symptoms of solanine poisoning in pets can include gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting and diarrhea, as well as more severe signs like lethargy, weakness, confusion, and in extreme cases, seizures or respiratory problems. Ingestion of the leaves, stems, or berries of the plant can lead to these symptoms, and therefore any exposure to sticky nightshade should prompt concern and potentially a visit to a veterinarian for pets exhibiting signs of poisoning. It's important to keep pets away from this plant due to its potential toxicity.

  • infoCharacteristics

    • Life cycle


    • Foliage type


    • Color of leaves


    • Flower color


    • Height

      3-4 feet (0.91-1.22 meters)

    • Spread

      2-3 feet (0.61-0.91 meters)

    • Plant type


    • Hardiness zones


    • Native area

      South America


  • money-bagGeneral Benefits

    • Trap crop for nematodes: Solanum sisymbriifolium, commonly known as the sticky nightshade, can attract and trap nematodes, reducing their numbers in the soil and preventing them from damaging other crops.
    • Improves soil health: Its cultivation can improve soil texture and structure due to its deep roots, which helps to prevent soil erosion.
    • Green manure: The plant can be used as green manure, providing nutrients like nitrogen when plowed back into the soil.
    • Companion planting: It can be beneficial as a companion plant, potentially deterring pests from more valuable crops with its thorny stems and foliage.
    • Edible uses: Some parts of the plant, like the fruit, are consumed in certain cultures after proper preparations to remove toxicity.

  • medicalMedical Properties

    This plant is not used for medical purposes.

  • windAir-purifying Qualities

    This plant is not specifically known for air purifying qualities.

  • leavesOther Uses

    • Solanum sisymbriifolium, commonly known as the sticky nightshade, is utilized as a trap crop for potato cyst nematodes, luring these pests away from the actual potato crops.
    • In some regions, farmers grow sticky nightshade as a living barrier to protect other crops from animals due to its thorny nature.
    • Sticky nightshade berries are sometimes used to make a brightly colored dye for textiles, despite the plant's toxicity.
    • Due to its fast-growing and dense foliage, sticky nightshade can be used as a temporary hedge or screen in agricultural settings.
    • Agriculturalists utilize sticky nightshade in crop rotation to improve soil health and reduce pest populations without chemical interventions.
    • The thorny branches of sticky nightshade are sometimes used as a natural protective layer over roofs in rural constructions to deter animals.
    • In some cultures, sticky nightshade is planted around beehives to enhance the defense against honey predators due to its prickly stems.
    • The fibrous material from the stems of sticky nightshade has been used in traditional craftsmanship for making rough-textured items such as ropes or mats.
    • Farmers may employ sticky nightshade to reclaim nutrient-poor soils as it is known for its ability to survive in difficult conditions and enrich the soil.
    • Sticky nightshade's dense growth can be employed to prevent soil erosion on slopes or in areas susceptible to wind and water erosion.

Interesting Facts

  • bedFeng Shui

    The Litchi Tomato is not used in Feng Shui practice.

  • aquariusZodiac Sign Compitability

    The Litchi Tomato is not used in astrology practice.

  • spiralPlant Symbolism

    • Litchi Tomato - Protection: Solanum sisymbriifolium, also known as the litchi tomato, features sharp spines on its stem and leaves, which symbolize protection. It has developed these features as a natural defense mechanism to ward off predators, making it symbolically linked to safeguarding and defense.
    • Resilience and Adaptability: The litchi tomato can grow in poor soil conditions and harsh climates, symbolizing the ability to withstand difficult circumstances and adapt to one's environment.
    • Contradiction and Surprise: With its spiny appearance and delicious fruit, the litchi tomato represents the juxtaposition of danger and reward, mirroring the contradictory facets of life.

Every 7-10 days
2500 - 10000 Lux
Every year
Spring-early summer
As needed
  • water dropWater

    The Litchi Tomato should be watered deeply once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions, with approximately 1 to 2 gallons of water per plant for each watering session. It's essential to allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings to prevent overwatering. During the hot summer months or in particularly dry climates, you might need to water more frequently to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged. Decrease watering in the cooler months to prevent root rot.

  • sunLight

    Litchi Tomato thrives in full sun conditions, meaning it requires at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. The ideal spot for this plant is in an area that receives unobstructed sunlight throughout the day, whether it is planted in the ground or in containers. However, in extremely hot climates, some afternoon shade can help to protect the plant from excessive heat stress.

  • thermometerTemperature

    The Litchi Tomato is a warm-weather plant that prefers temperatures between 70°F and 90°F. It can survive minor frosts, but prolonged exposure to temperatures below 32°F will damage or kill the plant. When grown in areas with hot summers, this plant will thrive; however, it should be protected or brought indoors if the temperature is expected to drop significantly below freezing.

  • scissorsPruning

    Pruning Litchi Tomato is mainly done to maintain plant shape and remove dead or diseased branches, enhancing air circulation and reducing disease risk. It's best to prune these plants early in the season, before they begin their rapid summer growth. Regular pruning isn't necessary, but pinching off the tops of the plants can encourage bushier growth. Any damaged or diseased stems should be removed as soon as they are noticed.

  • broomCleaning

    As needed

  • bambooSoil

    The Litchi Tomato requires well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.5. A mix of loam, sand, and compost works well, providing good aeration and nutrients.

  • plantRepotting

    Litchi Tomatoes should be repotted every 1 to 2 years to prevent root-bound conditions and to replenish nutrients in the soil.

  • water dropsHumidity & Misting

    Litchi Tomato thrives in moderate to high humidity levels; aim for 50-70% relative humidity for optimal growth.

  • pinSuitable locations

    • Indoor

      Place in bright sunlight, well-draining soil, and water when topsoil dries.

    • Outdoor

      Full sun, well-draining soil, harden off seedlings before planting.

    • Hardiness zone

      9-11 USDA

  • circleLife cycle

    The Solanum sisymbriifolium, commonly known as the sticky nightshade, begins its life cycle when its seeds germinate in warm, moist soil, often in the spring. Seedlings emerge and establish a root system, developing into juvenile plants with characteristic spiny stems and leaves. As the plant matures, it enters the vegetative stage, where it grows rapidly and produces more leaves, reaching its full plant size. Following the vegetative phase, the plant enters the flowering stage, producing vivid red to violet blossoms that are pollinated by insects or self-pollinate. Once pollinated, the flowers develop into spiky fruit capsules containing seeds, which mature and are eventually released or dropped near the parent plant to start a new life cycle. Throughout its life, the sticky nightshade can also regenerate from root fragments, contributing to its persistence and spread.

  • sproutPropogation

    • Propogation time

      Spring-early summer

    • Propogation: The Litchi Tomato, or Solanum sisymbriifolium, is commonly propagated through seeds. The best time to sow Litchi Tomato seeds is in early spring, indoors or under glass, as the plant is sensitive to frost. Seeds should be planted in a well-draining soil mix, at a depth of around 1/4 inch (approximately 6 millimeters). The soil temperature should be maintained at about 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit (21-24 degrees Celsius) to ensure good germination. Once the seedlings have grown strong enough and the risk of frost has passed, they can be transplanted to their final growing location outdoors, with each plant spaced approximately 2-3 feet (60-90 centimeters) apart to allow for proper growth and air circulation.