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Bittersweet nightshade Podcast: Extras
Images courtesy of Ari Daniel Shapiro.
Bittersweet nightshade belongs to a diverse family of plants called the Solanaceae. Many are toxic, most notoriously Datura and deadly nightshade. But the family also includes important food crops, including potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants, and chili peppers. It also includes tobacco.
Solanum dulcamara is pollinated by bumblebees. A bumblebee “buzzes” the flower, using her flight muscles to set up vibrations that shake the pollen from the flower onto her body. After visiting several flowers, she will carry the pollen back to the nest and feed it to the colony’s growing larvae.
Check out a rogues’ gallery of some other invasive plants in North America on EOL.
Citizen Science connections:
Find out how to spot invasive species in your own backyard, find lists of native plants to substitute for non-native versions, and even find recipes for “eating the invasives” (being careful to pick them where you can be sure they haven’t been sprayed with herbicides).