Definition of nightshade in US English:



  • A plant related to the potato, typically having poisonous black or red berries. Several kinds of nightshade have been used in the production of herbal medicines.

    Solanum and other genera, family Solanaceae (the nightshade family): several species, including the European woody nightshade (S. dulcamara), a climber with purple flowers and red berries. The nightshade family includes many commercially important plants (potato, tomato, capsicum peppers, tobacco) as well as a number of highly poisonous ones (henbane, jimson weed). See also deadly nightshade

    • ‘Chiles are members of the nightshade family, and are the fruits of the plant Solanaceae Capsicum.’
    • ‘Sensitive plants include legumes such as clover, peas and beans; Asteracea such as thistles, dandelions and sunflowers; and Solenacea such as nightshade, tomatoes and potatoes.’
    • ‘A keen botanical eye might also have picked out pepperweed, yellow woodsorrel, soapwort, horseweed, ironweed, black nightshade, sheep sorrel, curly dock, and small eyebane.’
    • ‘Some members of this family are historically notorious such as belladonna, now used for treating asthma, and the nightshades.’
    • ‘Confusing mugwort with wormwood is at the level of confusing potato with black nightshade because they share the genus Solanum.’
    • ‘He also identified certain plants with pharmacological action such as mandragora or nightshade, opium and henbane and gives various recipes for inducing both anesthesia and analgesia before surgery.’
    • ‘Hemlock, hellbane, fox glove, and nightshade as well as other dangerous and poisonous herbs rested in dried, fresh, and powdered form next to those very jars.’
    • ‘Certain common weeds, such as black nightshade, redroot pigweed, lamb's-quarters, and horsenettle will also support growth of the Verticillium fungus, and fields with a high population of these weeds should also be avoided.’
    • ‘Weed populations were dense and consisted of common lambsquarters, hairy nightshade, redroot pigweed, stinkgrass, and common purslane.’
    • ‘Dock, foxtail, jimsonweed, johnsongrass, morning glory, wild nightshades and ragweed indicate a soil low in calcium and phosphorus.’
    • ‘As it is, the potato belongs to the botanical family, Solanacea, to which poisonous plants like the nightshade belong.’
    • ‘The Europeans were not open to trying tomatoes, as a lot of members of the nightshade family are poisonous.’
    • ‘Used in shamanism, witchcraft, and even poisonous murder, nightshades have a history of both mystical danger and scientific caution.’
    • ‘Chewing insects can spread the disease from weeds as they feed, so be sure to remove all nearby pokeweed, nightshade, catnip, horsenettle and motherwort.’
    • ‘Bessey disarmingly recounts how: I was lecturing on the properties of the plants constituting the Solanaceae, and, as a matter of course, said that the berries of the black nightshade were poisonous.’
    • ‘While these introduced species have benefited from extensive breeding and selection, traditional vegetables such as amaranth, African nightshade, jute mallow, and cassava leaves have been virtually ignored.’
    • ‘In July, when the nightshades all kick in - offering eggplant and peppers, tomatoes and potatoes - there's almost nothing left to wish for.’
    • ‘I could taste the smoke in my mouth and smell the nightshade growing up the embankment and feel my mum's hand on my arm.’
    • ‘Experts recommend that tomatoes or any other member of the nightshade family (which includes potato, pepper and eggplant) not be planted in the same area any more often than once every four years.’
    • ‘New to southern Florida's cypress domes is wetland nightshade, also known as aquatic soda apple.’


Old English nihtscada, apparently from night + shade, probably with reference to the dark color and poisonous properties of the berries. Compare with German Nachtschatten.