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Purple Nightshade
Solanum xanti

About Purple Nightshade (Solanum xanti) Purple Nightshade or San Diego Nightshade is a semi-evergreen perennial vine in the Solanaceae family. Originally native to California, it can now be found in most of North America. It is found in the Bay Area and the Sierras, but its primary distribution is in the southern California coast and mountains from San Luis Obispo County southward up to 4,000 feet elevation. It grows in shrublands, oak/pine woodlands, deciduous and coniferous forests in sandy, rocky or clay soils. It is found in areas that receive 10-20" of rainfall annually and prefers partial sun. It ranges from two to four feet in height, and two to four feet in width. Purple Nightshade has been observed 'climbing' higher on fences, shrubs and saplings, sometimes 'choking' or blocking sunlight thereby killing off the host plant. Purple Nightshade flowers are a blue purple and approximately an inch wide, and foliage is dark green. It blooms in spring to early summer. The plant is poisonous to humans and some other animals, especially the fruits. Be cautious in using it where children or pets may have access. Due to the poisonous nature of many nightshades, tomatoes (also a member of the Solanaceae) were thought to be equally toxic by many North Americans as late as the early eighteenth century.
Plant Description
Plant Type
Shrub, Perennial herb

Max. Height
2 - 4 ft (0.6 - 1.2 m)

Max. Width
2 - 4 ft (0.6 - 1.2 m)


Summer Semi-Deciduous, Evergreen

Flower Color
Blue, Purple

Flowering Season
Spring, Summer, Winter

Native Status

Natural Setting
Site Type
Semi-arid bluffs, foothills, canyons and valleys, among larger shrubs or trees

Sun, Part Shade

Elevation ?
-3' - 9752'

Annual Precip. ?
5.2" - 117.2"

Summer Precip. ?
0.14" - 3.15"

Coldest Month ?
25.5° F - 56.4° F

Hottest Month ?
50.5° F - 80.6° F

Humidity ?
0.36 vpd - 29.63 vpd

Soil Description
Tolerates many soils, sandy, loamy or clay

Soil PH
6.0 - 8.0

Fast, Medium, Slow

Cold Tolerance(° F)
Tolerates cold to 5° F

Companion Plants
Best used in habitat restoration or "wild" gardens with shrubs such as Chamise (Adenostoma fasciculatum), Manzanita (Arctostaphylos sp. or Xylococcus sp.), Ceanothus sp., Coyote Brush (Baccharis pilularis), Scrub Oak (Quercus dumosa or berberidifolia), and other woody plants.

Landscaping Information
Ease of Care
Moderately Easy

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

Rarely Used

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

Organic with Rocks

Common uses
Deer Resistant, Bird Gardens

Nursery Availability
Commonly Available

Other Names
Common Names
Chaparral Nightshade

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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