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Bluewitch Nightshade
Solanum umbelliferum

About Bluewitch Nightshade (Solanum umbelliferum) Bluewitch Nightshade (Solanum umbelliferum) is a native shrub Solanaceae (Nightshade) family that is widespread in California in various habitats and vegetation communities, at elevations from sea level to 5,200 feet. The stems are densely hairy and branched. The leaves are grey-green, elliptical to oval, and typically smooth edged. The flower is blue to purple in color, consisting of five petals fused together, with contrasting yellow anthers. The fruit is a sphere 12-14 mm in size. Its habit is mounding or sometimes vining, often found climbing up through more woody shrubs. All parts of the plant are toxic to people and some animals. However, it is very attractive to insects. If given occasional summer water it will stay leafed-out and may even continue to flower. If allowed to dry it will be summer deciduous. This is a very tough, hardy plant that will survive on neglect.
Plant Description
Plant Type

Max. Height
3.3 ft (1 m)

Max. Width
3 ft (0.9 m)

Growth Rate

Summer Semi-Deciduous,

Flower Color
Blue, Lavender, Purple, Yellow

Flowering Season
Spring, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Dry, rocky slopes, canyons and mesas throughout the state, in various plant communities including chaparral, sage scrub, grassland, and woodlands

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-247' - 14460'

Annual Precip. ?
3.1" - 117.4"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.91"

Coldest Month ?
17.9° F - 58.8° F

Hottest Month ?
38.4° F - 87.6° F

Humidity ?
0.03 vpd - 43.55 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates a variety of soils

Soil PH
5.5 - 7.5

Soil Toxicity Tolerance
Tolerates Saline Soil, Tolerates Sodic Soil

Fast, Medium

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 0° F

Sunset Zones ?
7*, 8, 9, 10, 14*, 15, 16, 17, 19*, 20*, 21*, 22*, 23*, 24

Wildlife Attracted
The flowers are attractive to a variety of insects, including bees and butterflies

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

Water Requirement ?
Very Low
Extremely Low
Very Low
Moderate - High

Seldom Used

Max. Summer Water ?
No Summer Water, 1x/month
No Summer Water
Keep moist

Organic with Rocks

Propagation ?
For propagating by seed: Stored seeds scarification or hot water for 1 hr. only ( Emery and Frey

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Sources include: Wikipedia. All text shown in the "About" section of these pages is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Plant observation data provided by the participants of the California Consortia of Herbaria, Sunset information provided by Jepson Flora Project. Propogation from seed information provided by the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden from "Seed Propagation of Native California Plants" by Dara E. Emery. Sources of plant photos include CalPhotos, Wikimedia Commons, and independent plant photographers who have agreed to share their images with Calscape. Other general sources of information include Calflora, CNPS Manual of Vegetation Online, Jepson Flora Project, Las Pilitas, Theodore Payne, Tree of Life, The Xerces Society, and information provided by CNPS volunteer editors, with special thanks to Don Rideout. Climate data used in creation of plant range maps is from PRISM Climate Group, Oregon State University, using 30 year (1981-2010) annual "normals" at an 800 meter spatial resolution.

Links:   Jepson eFlora Taxon Page  CalPhotos  Wikipedia  Calflora

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