|Botanical Name||Solanum mauritianum|
|Origin||South Brazil, Uruguay|
DescriptionIt is a shrub or small tree up to 5 metres in height with a trunk commonly up to 200mm in diameter. The leaves are ovate, greyish-green on the upper surface and white to yellowish green on the lower surface, densely covered with felty like hairs. This "woolly" or "felty" appearance has given rise to the names woolly nightshade and flannel weed. The leaves are commonly 10 to 250mm long x 35mm to 100mm wide and have a very pungent toxic smell to them, especially when rubbed or crushed. The flowers have 5 purple lobes with a yellow centre, and are 15 to 20mm in diameter. They can appear in clusters at the ends of branches almost year round and turn into round berries 10mm in diameter. The berries are initially green but ripen to a yellow colour several weeks after the flowering period. Each berry contains many seeds, each of which is 1 to 2mm long.
Where is it found?Almost any open situation, tolerant of various soils, and some degree of shade. The species often forms dense stands, shading out most other plants.
Why is it a problem?Also known as tobacco weed, flannel weed or kerosene plant, is a most undesirable plant due to its invasive nature and suppressing action. May invade pastoral land, native forest margins and urban areas. Can form pure colonies in certain situations, crowding out and suppressing all other plants. Seedlings establishing in summer can bear flowers by the autumn, representing how quickly juvenile plants can grow. If left, plants reach several metres in height within 2 to 3 years. Eventually woolly nightshade trees lose thrift after 15 years of age and die branch by branch.
How does it spread?Although the majority of the fruit fall to the ground beneath the parent plant, many berries are still eaten by birds. Birds have spread seed into almost every vacant piece of urban land in Auckland, as well as hedge rows, farm land, gullies and bush margins. Seed is the only means of dispersal. Woolly nightshade is wide spread throughout much of the coastal Bay of Plenty.
How do I get rid of it?
For seedlings and small plants - simply pull or dig out, preferably when soil is damp.
Early detection and destruction of isolated plants appearing in new districts is especially important as it starts to spread seeds in just a few months.
Woolly nightshade is a Progressive control pest plant within the Bay of Plenty Region and landowners are obliged to clear this plant from their properties.
This plant is prohibited from propagation, sale and distribution within the Bay of Plenty Region!