Brazilian nightshade (Solanum seaforthianum)

Also known as: Climbing nightshade

Brazilian nightshade is a sprawling shrub or creeper with bright red berries. It is poisonous to people and animals and it smothers other plants.


How does this weed affect you?

Brazilian nightshade:

  • is toxic if eaten
  • smothers other plants 
  • invades forests, riparian areas, roadsides and gardens
  • can host disease for solanum crops such as eggplants. 


The leaves, stems and unripe green fruits of Brazilian nightshade contain solasodine which is a toxic steroidal glycoalkoid. 

Human health

All parts of the plant may be poisonous to humans. Symptoms from eating the leaves or fruit may include gastric irritation, nausea and diarrhoea.

What to do if a person is poisoned:

  • If the patient is unconscious, unresponsive or having difficulty breathing dial 000 or get to the emergency section of a hospital immediately.
  • If the patient is conscious and responsive call the Poisons Information Centre on 13 11 26 or your doctor.
  • If going to a hospital take a piece of the plant for identification or take a photo and take it with you to the hospital.
Animal health

The leaves stems and unripe fruit are poisonous to some animals. 

What does it look like?

Leaves are:

  • green
  • hairless
  • 4–10 cm long and 3–6 cm wide
  • deeply lobed with 3–9 lobes, almost to the midrib
  • on stalks 2–4 cm long
  • alternate on the stem.

Flowers are:

  • mauve-blue
  • 20–30 mm across
  • star-shaped
  • in clusters of 10–100 in the leaf fork
  • present from summer to autumn.

Fruit are:

  • bright red when mature
  • green when young
  • round
  • 8–12 mm across
  • shiny.

Seeds are:

  • reddish-brown to black
  • 2–3 mm long
  • flattened.

Stems are:

  • green
  • mostly hairless
  • with a few sticky hairs on the flowering branches. 

Where is it found?

Brazillian nightshade grows in coastal areas of New South Wales from the Queensland to Victorian borders. It is most common on the North Coast. It has also been found in Tamworth.

It is native to Central America and the Caribbean. 

What type of environment does it grow in?

Brazilian nightshade is an environmental weed in forests, urban bushland, and along waterways (riparian) areas. It is also found along roadsides and trails and in pastures, gardens and parks.

It often grows on disturbed soil, especially fertile soil.

How does it spread?

By seed

Birds and other animals eat the ripe fruit and spread the seed.


Debrot, E. A., Lastra, R., & De Uzcategui, R. C. (1977). Solanum Seaforthianum, a weed host of eggplant mosaic virus in Venezuela. Plant Disease Reporter, 61(8), 628-631.

McKenzie, R. (2012). Australia's poisonous plants, fungi and cyanobacteria: a guide to species of medical and veterinary importance. CSIRO.

PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney. Retrieved 12 February 2020 from:

Richardson, F. J., Richardson, R. G., & Shepherd, R. C. H. (2011). Weeds of the south-east: an identification guide for Australia (No. Ed. 3). CSIRO.

More information

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Successful weed control relies on follow up after the initial efforts. This means looking for and killing regrowth or new seedlings. Using a combination of control methods is usually more successful.

To tackle Brazilian nightshade control the weed before it flowers in spring. 

Physical control

Hand pulling or digging

The seedlings can be pulled out when young. Older plants can be pulled or dug out if the soil is not too hard. Take care to remove all of the roots.

Chemical control


Spray the leaves when the plant is actively growing. If the weed is growing over desired plants it can be pulled down and sprayed on the ground. 

Herbicide options

Users of agricultural or veterinary chemical products must always read the label and any permit, before using the product, and strictly comply with the directions on the label and the conditions of any permit. Users are not absolved from compliance with the directions on the label or the conditions of the permit by reason of any statement made or not made in this information. To view permits or product labels go to the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority website

See Using herbicides for more information.

PERMIT 11916 Expires 31/03/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L (Various products)
Rate: 1 part product to 100 parts water plus surfactant
Comments: Spray. Urban bushland, forests and coastal reserves.
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 12942 Expires 30/08/2025
Glyphosate 360 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 2 L + 10 g per 100 L of water plus wetter
Comments: Riparian areas
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: M, Inhibitors of EPSP synthase
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 12942 Expires 30/08/2025
Picloram 100 g/L + Triclopyr 300 g/L + Aminopyralid 8 g/L (Grazon Extra®)
Rate: 300-500 mL per 100 L water
Comments: Urban bushlands, pastures, rights of way, forests
Withholding period: Where product is used to control woody weeds in pastures there is a restriction of 12 weeks for use of treated pastures for making hay and silage; using hay or other plant material for compost, mulch or mushroom substrate; or using animal waste from animals grazing on treated pastures for compost, mulching, or spreading on pasture/crops.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

PERMIT 12942 Expires 30/08/2025
Triclopyr 300 g/L + Picloram 100 g/L with Metsulfuron-methyl 600 g/kg (Various products)
Rate: 300-500 mL per 100 L water plus 10 g metsulfuron-methyl per 100 L water
Comments: Urban bushland, pastures, rights of way, forests
Withholding period: Nil.
Herbicide group: I, Disruptors of plant cell growth (synthetic auxins)
Resistance risk: Moderate

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Biosecurity duty

The content provided here is for information purposes only and is taken from the Biosecurity Act 2015 and its subordinate legislation, and the Regional Strategic Weed Management Plans (published by each Local Land Services region in NSW). It describes the state and regional priorities for weeds in New South Wales, Australia.

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All pest plants are regulated with a general biosecurity duty to prevent, eliminate or minimise any biosecurity risk they may pose. Any person who deals with any plant, who knows (or ought to know) of any biosecurity risk, has a duty to ensure the risk is prevented, eliminated or minimised, so far as is reasonably practicable.

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.

Reviewed 2020