Sticky nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifolium)

Sticky nightshade is an erect prickly plant with sticky leaves and bright red berries. It competes with crops, pastures and native plants.


How does this weed affect you?

Sticky nightshade is an invasive plant that:
• competes with crops and pastures
• prevents native plants from growing
• has sharp prickles which can injure people, pets, livestock and native animals
• can make harvesting difficult (for example in vineyards).


Sticky nightshade contains steroidal glycoalkaloids toxins. It is suspected to have caused cattle deaths in the Greater Sydney Region.

What does it look like?

Sticky nightshade is an erect plant to 1.5 m high. Most of the plant is hairy and covered in very sharp prickles. It is an annual or short-lived perennial. Multiple, severe frosts may kill the above ground parts of the plant but it will reshoot from rhizomes in spring. It can flower within 5 weeks of germination or regrowth from rhizomes. Flowering is usually during spring and summer.

Leaves are:

• sticky
• green to yellowish on both sides
• 5–14 cm long and 4–10 cm wide
• with deep lobes
• hairy and prickly on both sides
• on a stalk up to 4 cm long.

Prickles are:

• yellow to red
• 1–10 mm long
• on stems, leaves (top and bottom), leaf stalks and at the base of flowers.

Flowers are:

• white or pale bluish-purple
• star shaped with 5 petals and bright yellow anthers in the centre
• 35–50 mm in diameter
• in groups of 4–12.

Fruit are:

• berries
• bright red when ripe
• 15–20 mm diameter.


• are extensive
• produce horizontal underground stems known as rhizomes.

Where is it found?

Sticky nightshade is mostly found in Western Sydney and the Central Tablelands. However, it has also been found in the Central West, South East, Hunter, Mid-north Coast and Riverina.

It is native to South America.

What type of environment does it grow in?

Sticky nightshade grows in full sun and semi shade. It can grow in a wide variety of soil types and environments including:
• in pastures
• on cultivated land
• along waterways
• along roadsides
• on steep rocky slopes.
It grows best in moist soil conditions.

Maps and records

  • Recorded presence of Sticky nightshade during property inspections (Map: Biosecurity Information System - Weeds, 2017-2022)
    These records are made by authorised officers during property inspections under the Biosecurity Act 2015. Officers record the presence of priority weeds in their council area and provide this to the NSW Department of Primary Industries. Records reflect the presence of the weed on the date of inspection.

How does it spread?

By Seed

The seeds spread by:
• birds and foxes eating ripe fruit and excreting viable seeds
• dead branches with fruit blowing along the ground dispersing seed
• water as the fruit floats and can be carried in runoff, rivers and streams
• slashers
• movement of contaminated soil and fodder
• movement of soil on cultivation equipment and earthmoving equipment.

Many seeds germinate under the parent plants making infestations denser.

By plant parts

Sticky nightshade can grow from root or rhizome fragments. Branches develop roots where they touch moist soil. The plant fragments are spread by:
• contaminated soil
• cultivation equipment
• earth moving equipment.


Deiss, L., Moraes, A., Pelissari, A., Porfirio-Da-Silva, V., & Dominschek, R. (2018). Sticky nightshade infestation and dispersion on an integrated soybean-eucalyptus system at subtropical Brazil. Planta Daninha, 36.

Hili, M. P. & Hulley, P. E. (2000). Aspects of the phenology and ecology of the South American weed, Solanum sisymbriifolium, in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa, African Plant Protection 6(2): 53-59.

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

Sawford, K. (2015). Suspected sticky nightshade (Solanum sisymbriifolium) intoxication in a Greater Sydney Beef Herd in Flock and Herd Case Notes. Greater Sydney Local Land Services. Retrieved 28 February 2020 from

Shukla, R., Srivastava, S., & Dvivedi, A. (2015). Solanum sisymbriifolium Lam.(Solanaceae): a new invasive undershrub of the old-fields of north-eastern Uttar Pradesh. Check list, 11, 3, Article 1643.

More information

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Early detection

Check for plants regularly because sticky nightshade can flower within 5 weeks from sprouting.


Chip or dig out small plants and remove all of the roots. Wear appropriate protective clothing, boots and gloves to avoid injury from the prickles.


Avoid cultivating infested areas as it will move root pieces to clean areas. If it is unavoidable, remove all plant fragments and soil from cultivation machinery before moving it from the infested site.


Avoid slashing as it can spread the weed. Slashing does not control it because the berries can grow close to the ground below the slash height.


Spray plants according to the permit for effective control. Thoroughly spray all leaves and stems and spray the plant from all sides if possible.
Spraying will kill the plant but not the viable seeds. Remove the fruit from each plant and dispose of appropriately to avoid adding to the seed bank in the soil.


Contact your local council for advice on how to dispose of sticky nightshade.

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.

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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.

Regional recommended measure for Central Tablelands from February 2020

Area Duty
All of NSW General Biosecurity Duty
All 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.
Central Tablelands
Exclusion zone: whole of region except core infestation area of Belubula River Catchment in Blayney Council, Cabonne Council and Cowra Shire Council areas.
Regional Recommended Measure* (for Regional Priority - Containment)
Whole region: The plant should not be bought, sold, grown, carried or released into the environment. Exclusion zone: The plant is eradicated from the land and the land kept free of the plant. Land managers should mitigate the risk of the plant being introduced to their land. Core infestation: Land managers reduce impacts from the plant on priority assets. Land managers should mitigate spread from their land.
*To see the Regional Strategic Weeds Management Plans containing demonstrated outcomes that fulfil the general biosecurity duty for this weed click here

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For technical advice and assistance with identification please contact your local council weeds officer.
For further information call the NSW DPI Biosecurity Helpline on 1800 680 244 or send an email to

Reviewed 2021