Solanum dimidiatum: Western horsenettle

Family: Solanaceae
Common name: Western horsenettle, Torrey’s nightshade, Robust horsenettle

Though Western horsenettles have beautiful violet flowers and berries, they will never be mistaken for ornamental garden plants. Because they are covered with thorns on the stems, both over and under the leaves; even around stalks of the fruits. Western horsenettle plants are shrubs that can reach a height of 2-3 feet with an erect branching stem.

Leaves are bright green, toothed or lobed at the edges and having sharp thorns on the upper and lower surfaces along the midrib. The thorns are a feature to be described by themselves; about half and inch long, light green at the base, yellow towards the tip, and very sharp.

Flowers are light or dark violet in color with white gradients; and prominent yellow stamens. Western horsenettle plants produce an abundance of flowers with a bell-shaped corolla, flowering almost throughout the year. The flowers then form small green berries that are about half an inch in diameter, with some green gradient colors on the surface. These berries then turn yellow as they mature.

Western horsenettles plants are obviously not good grazing plants because of the abundant thorns; they are also extremely toxic to animals and humans. It can cause staggering, tremors and lack of coordination in livestock, though in most cases, the animals recover after some time.

Propagation is through seeds.

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