Common Names: Bittersweet nightshade, bittersweet, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, woody nightshade
It is an invasive species in North America. It is a semi-woody herbaceous perennial vine, which scrambles over other plants, capable of reaching a height of 4 m where suitable support is available, but more often 1 to 2 meters high. The leaves are 4 to 12 cm long, roughly arrowhead-shaped, and often lobed at the base. The flowers are in loose clusters of 3 to 20, 1 to 1.5 cm across, star-shaped, with five purple petals and yellow stamens and style pointing forward. The fruit is an ovoid red berry about 1 cm long, soft and juicy, with the aspect and odor of a tiny tomato, and edible for some birds, which disperse the seeds widely.
It occurs in a very wide range of habitats, from woodlands to scrubland, hedges and marshes.
Edible Notes: Some sources have suggested that the very ripe (red) berries (not including the seeds) may be edible, however most other sources suggest otherwise. In all cases, I wouldn't eat one of the berries even if I was starving to death. This plant is very toxic.
Warnings: The berry is poisonous to humans and livestock, and the berry's attractive and familiar look make it dangerous for children. (The berries vary in color and look like a bunch of Skittles candy.) The foliage is also poisonous to humans. Although fatal human poisonings are rare, several cases have been documented. The poison is believed to be solanine.