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GREEN NIGHTSHADES MARTIN SANFORD There has been much confusion in the past about the taxonomy and nomenclature of Green Nightshades. Suffolk records have been made under the names Solanum sarrachoides Sendt., S. nitidibaccatum Bitter and S. chenopodioides auct. These South American nightshades are naturalised in many parts of the world; they are very like the common Black Nightshade, S. nigrum L. in appearance and show similar Variation in leaf shape and degree of hairiness to that species. The Green Nightshades are separated from S. nigrum by the calyx which enlarges in fruit to more or less cover the ripe berry (accrescent) and by the presence of glandulär hairs on the stem. Edmonds (1986) has shown that there are two glandular-haired species of nightshade with accrescent calyces: Solanum sarrachoides Sendtner This species has 'fully accrescent' calyces with sharply triangular sepals which completely enclose and exceed the fruit. It is a more or less erect plant with aromatic, sticky hairs and large (4-7.5 cm), leaves with a wavy toothed outline. The flowers are in umbels of 3-4 with all the flower stalks rising from the same point. The fruits are pale green, dull and opaque with more than 50 seeds. It is a very scarce alien in Britain, only regularly recorded from a tip at Dagenham in Essex. I do not think it has occurred in Suffolk. Solanum physalifolium

Rusby

This corresponds to S. nitidibaccatum Bitter; it has calyces with broadly triangular sepals which enlarge to about half the length of the mature fruit. The plant is not very aromatic or sticky and is usually prostrate or sprawling in habit. The leaves are smaller (2.5 cm), usually wavy toothed in outline, but occasionally entire. The flowers are in groups of 4-8 with their stalks not all arising from the same point. The fruits are dark green to brown or purple/ brown, usually shiny and translucent with less than 25 seeds. All British plants correspond to the variety nitidibaccatum. I think all the Suffolk records of Green Nightshades correspond to this species. Specimens in Cambridge University Herbarium collected at Maidscross Hill, Lakenheath (coli. M. Rutterford & G. Crompton) and at The Denes, Benacre Ness (coli. P. D. Seil) have been determined as this species by Dr. J. M. Edmonds (Edmonds, 1986). Recently there has been an increase in records, mainly from the Ipswich and Felixstowe areas, but also in the Breck and on the coast at Covehithe. Once established at a site it often survives for many years and may spread locally perhaps with the aid of birdsown seed. It shows a preference for light soils and has been found along some arable field margins. Recent warm summers must have aided its spread

Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)


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Suffolk Natural History, Vol. 29

Solanum sarrachoides Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)


GREEN N I G H T S H A D E S

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and we can expect it to become an increasingly common addition to our weed flora. It is a successful weed in many parts of Britain and has occasionally hybridised with 5. nigrum to form large sprawling sterile plants with seedless berries. T h e hybrid was described and named by A . C. Leslie (1978) as S. x procurrens. It has been recorded in Suffolk from Eriswell in a market garden with both parents in 1980 (Hyde, Hyde and Simpson, 1981). References Edmonds, J. M . , 1986. Biosystematics of Solanum sarrachoides Sendtner and S. physalifolium Rusby (S. nitidibaccatum Bitter). Bot. J. Linn. Soc., 92, 1-38." Hyde, E . M . , Hyde, M. A . & Simpson, F. W., 1981. Some recent Suffolk plant records. Trans. Suffolk Nat. Soc. 18, 231-241. Leslie, A . C., 1978. T h e occurrence of Solanum nigrum L. x S. sarrachoides Sendtn. in Britain. Watsonia, 12, 29-32.

Grey Squirrel feeding on Oak Apple Whilst in Minsmere in June 1992, we, my wife and I, heard a Grey Squirrel in an English O a k (Quercus robur). It was feeding on an O a k Apple, the pink gall caused by the wasp Biohiza pallida. O n examining the small amount of dropped gall it was obvious that the animal was actually feeding on the gall and not simply breaking the gall open to feed on any larvae or inquilines which may have been inside. In Squirrels (Monica Shorten (1954), Collins New Naturalist) it states that the most important source of food for the Grey Squirrel is the O a k , but whilst it mentions acorns, catkins and young leaves, no mention is m a d e of any of the numerous galls formed on these trees, perhaps ' A n O a k Apple a day keeps predators away'? Dr Alan B e a u m o n t .

Trans. Suffolk

Nat. Soc. 29 (1993)

Green Nightshades  

Sanford, M. N.

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