Caution: Poisonous plant. Like most plants in the nightshade genus, silver-leaf nightshade is poisonous to cattle, but rarely consumed. Solanum is a huge genus with 1,200-1,800 species worldwide, but only 20 are found in Texas (all poisonous). The green portions of its domestic cousin, the potato, are also poisonous. Wildlife value of this plant is minimal.
It is a perennial 10 cm to 1 m in height. The stems are covered with nettle-like prickles, ranging from very few on some plants to very dense on others. Leaves and stems are covered with downy hairs (trichomes) that lie against and hide the surface, giving a silvery or grayish appearance.
Closeup of S. elaeagnifolium flower
Closeup of S. elaeagnifolium berries
The leaves are up to 15 cm long and 0.5 to 2.5 cm wide, with shallowly waved edges, which distinguish it from the closely related Carolina Horsenettle (S. carolinense), which has wider, more deeply indented leaves. The flowers, appearing from April to August, have five petals united to form a star, ranging from blue to pale lavender or occasionally white; five yellow stamens and a pistil form a projecting center. The plant produces glossy yellow, orange, or red berries that last all winter and may turn brown as they dry.
Solanum elaeagnifolium var. leprosum (Ortega) Dunal
Solanum elaeagnifolium var. obtusifolium (Dunal) Dunal
S. elaeagnifolium var. ovalifolium does not refer to the S. ovalifolium as described by Dunal and does not belong to the present species; it is actually S. aridum. Meanwhile, S. crispum var. elaeagnifolium is just the normal S. crispum of Ruiz and Pavón Jiménez.
Cronquist, Arthur; Holmgren, Arthur H.; Holmgren, Noel H.; Reveal, James L. & Holmgren, Patricia K. (1984): Intermountain Flora; Vascular Plants of the Intermountain West, U.S.A. (Vol. 4. Subclass Asteridae except Asteraceae). The New York Botanical Garden. ISBN 0-89327-248-5
Niehaus, Theodore F.; Ripper, Charles L. & Savage, Virginia (1984): A Field Guide to Southwestern and Texas Wildflowers. Houghton Mifflin Company, ISBN 0-395-36640-2
Nugent, Martin (ed.) (2005): Oregon Invasive Species Action Plan. PDF fulltext
A perennial branched herb up to 1 m tall. Stem and branches dense stellate-tomentose, prickly. Prickles sparse, acicular, 2-5 mm long, yellow. Leaves alternate, 1.5-11 x 3.0 cm, ovate-lanceolate to lanceolate, repand-sinuate, base cuneate to oblique. Flowers 1-5 in number, violet-blue to purplish, in extra-axillary cymes. Pedicel up to 20 mm long. Calyx ± 5 mm long deeply 5-lobed, enlarging in fruit. Corolla 20-25 mm broad. Anthers yellow. Filaments 3 mm long. Berry globose, 11-12 mm broad, yellow. Seed subreniform, c. 3 mm long.