Solanum carolinense L.

Horse Nettle

Solanum carolinense plant

Family - Solanaceae

Stems - To 1m tall but typically shorter, armed with spines, pubescent with spreading and stellate hairs, greenish to purple, from thick rhizome, herbaceous, erect.

Solanum carolinense stem

Leaves - Alternate, petiolate. Petiole to +/-2cm long, spiny. Blade to +20cm long, +7cm broad, typically lance-ovate in outline, often lobed, with spines on midrib and veins, stellate pubescent.

Solanum carolinense leaves

Inflorescence - Axillary racemes (sometimes branching) compact in flower but quickly elongating in fruit to +/-20cm long. Pedicels +/-1cm long, stellate pubescent.

Flowers - Corolla white to lilac or purple at anthesis, drying darker, 5-lobed, to 3cm broad, stellate pubescent externally, glabrous internally. Stamens 5, alternating with corolla lobes, adnate at base of corolla tube, erect. Filaments yellowish-green, 2mm long, glabrous. Anthers yellow, 7-8mm long, 2mm broad, loosely connivent around style or not. Style greenish, glabrous, -1.5cm long. Stigma dark green. Ovary superior, glandular pubescent, whitish, 2mm in diameter, 2-locular. Placentation axile. Ovules many. Calyx deeply 5-lobed. Calyx tube to 3mm long, purplish-green, stellate pubescent. Lobes lance-acuminate, 7-8mm long, 2-3mm broad at base, stellate pubescent, entire, scarious in basal half. Fruits yellowish, globose, +/- 1.5cm in diameter.

Solanum carolinense calyxCalyx.

Solanum carolinense flowers

Solanum carolinense fruitDeveloping fruit.

Flowering - May - October.

Habitat - Waste ground, disturbed sites, pastures, roadsides, railroads.

Origin - Native to U.S.

Other info. - The flowers of this species are fairly showy. They can range in color from white to purple. The plant is toxic and the spines can be painful if the plant is handled carelessly.
Steyermark lists two forms for the species. Form albiflorum Benke has white flowers and is shown above. Form carolinense has purple-blue or violet petals. Both forms are common in Missouri.

Photographs taken off Hwy 106, Shannon County, MO., 5-26-03, and in Springfield, MO., 7-5-03.