Solanum carolinense (Horse Nettle)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Solanaceae (Potato)
Life cycle:perennial
Origin:southeast US
  • Weedy
Habitat:part shade, sun; disturbed soil; agricultural fields, roadsides, waste areas
Bloom season:May - September
Plant height:1 to 3 feet
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: UPL MW: FACU NCNE: FACU
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flower] Clusters of stalked flowers opposite a leaf in the upper plant and at the tips of branching stems. Flowers are about ¾ inch across, star-shaped with 5 triangular petals fused in the lower half, white to violet and green at the base. The petals are mostly spreading but may be curled back. Protruding from the center are 5 stout yellow stamens surrounding a straight, slender, green style.

[photo of calyx] The calyx has 5 long lobes with a long taper to a pointed tip and typically spreading at the tip. The calyx and flower stalks are covered in star-shaped hairs and sparse prickles.

Leaves and stems: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: lobed Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are oblong to egg-shaped in outline, 2 to 6 inches long, up to 3 inches wide, both surfaces covered in star-shaped hairs, on a short stalk. Leaf edges are often wavy, and toothless but shallowly lobed, the lobes typically angular and resembling large teeth.

[photo of prickles on stem and leaves] Stems and major veins on the underside of leaves are variously covered in sharp, yellowish prickles. Stems are green and covered in star-shaped hairs. Colonies may be formed from creeping rhizomes.

Fruit: Fruit type: berry/drupe

[photo of developing fruit] Fruit is a round berry, about ½ inch in diameter, that ripens to yellow and becomes wrinkly when mature.


Native to the US farther south and east of Minnesota, Horse Nettle is considered adventive here, but with climate change its natural range will naturally spread northward so in a few years it might treated as a native species after all. It was once an agricultural pest and listed as a county-level noxious weed but Round-up Ready crops took care of that.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dzuik taken at a nursery in Sherburne County.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Cooper C - Kasota Scientific and Natural Area
on: 2017-06-21 17:03:15

Found two of these near the parking lot at Kasota SNA.

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