Woolly nightshade - furry, but not friendly!


woolly nightshade showing flower buds and berries
woolly nightshade showing flower buds and berries

Although it may sound quite cute, there is nothing cuddly about the woolly nightshade.

Like much of the nightshade family, it is poisonous - so don’t eat the berries! In addition the fine ‘hairs’ that come off the plant can cause a reaction in some people, by touch or inhalation. It can grow to several metres in height if left unchecked and grows very quickly, outcompeting native plants. It will also shed berries all over the surrounding area. You don't want this growing in your backyard, especially if you’ve got kids or pets, or live close to a reserve.


So, have we convinced you yet that woolly nightshade is a plant to get rid of?

Read on to find out how to get rid of it.


About woolly nightshade

Woolly nightshade, also known as Tobacco weed, Kerosene plant or Solanum maritianum, is an invasive pest plant from Brazil. It spreads easily by seed, forming dense stands and prevents the establishment of native plants. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans (especially the berries) so it’s important to remove it wherever it is found. The plant can cause skin and respiratory irritation where it stands and as it is removed, so care should be taken to cover up the skin, wear eye protection and a dust mask when controlling the pest plant.

Looking up at a woolly nightshade tree
Looking up at a woolly nightshade tree

What does it look like?

A sparse shrub or small tree to 10m tall, with whitish, soft-wooded stems. It’s large, velvety, oval grey-green leaves are covered in dusty hairs and whitish underneath. Dense clusters of mauve to purple flowers with yellow anthers appear from January to December, followed by clusters of ripe round berries (1cm diameter) that ripen from hard green to soft, dull yellow.