Wild Flowers of Pittsburgh

Horse Nettle (Solanum carolinense)

A very prickly member of the nightshade or tomato family. It makes up a little for its thorny disposition by growing attractive white flowers with the brightest yellow stamens you can imagine. The flowers may fade to lavender as they age. This plant was blooming in early June in the plantings outside the Hilton hotel downtown in Gateway Center, where apparently the gardeners have not been adequately paid.

Gray describes the genus and the species:

SOLANUM [Tourn.] L. NIGHTSHADE
Calyx and wheel-shaped corolla 5-parted or 5-cleft (rarely 4-10-parted), the latter plaited in the bud, and valvate or induplicate. Stamens exserted; filaments very short; anthers eonvrnjing around the style, opening at the tip by two pores or chinks. Berry usually 2-celled. Herbs, or shrubs in warm climates, the larger leaves often accompanied by a smaller lateral (rameal) one; the peduncles also mostly lateral and extra-axillary. A vast genus, chiefly in warmer regions. (Name of unknown derivation.)

S. carolinense L. (HORSE NETTLE.) Hirsute or roughish-pubescent with 4-8-rayed hairs; prickles stout, yellowish, copious (rarely scanty); leaves oblong or ovate, obtusely sinuate-toothed or lobed or sinuate-pinnatifid; racemes simple, soon lateral; calyx-lobes acuminate; berry 1-1.5 cm. broad. Sandy soil and waste grounds, N. E. to Ont., westw. and south w.; adventive eastw.

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