BlackBerry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum) is a common plant that suffers from a common misconception.
Many people believe that, because the common name contains ‘nightshade’, it is as poisonous as the unrelated Deadly Nightshade (Atropa belladonna), which it isn’t at all.
BlackBerry Nightshade is one of the Solanum family, so is related to more commonly eaten vegetables such as Tomatoes and Potatoes.
Like many Solanums, you must be careful which part you eat and when. In the case of BlackBerry Nightshade, we eat the ripe berries. When ripe, they are a purple – black colour and very soft. They fall easily from the plant when ready.
Whatever you do, don’t eat the green berries. They can make you pretty ill.
The leaves can are eaten in some parts of the world, cooked like Spinach but I don’t find them that tasty.
The juice of the leaves has been used on ulcers and can be made into an ointment for skin complaints and tumors and herpes. Small doses of the juice can be drunk to ease pain and kick off a sweat, though I’m not sure of safe doses. I have tried small amounts as a pain killer and it works a bit and it did kick off a heavy sweat. Caution is advised here.
Blackberry Nightshade has been used to induce sleep and as a narcotic, but I don’t recommend it at all due to the chemistry of the plant.