BITTERSWEET (Solanum dulcamara)


bittersweet flowers


Solanum dulcamara, a species of woody vine in the potato family, likes to grow in moist, dark places. It can be robust, scrambling over other plants and covering them with a curtain of matt green arrow-shaped leaves.

Bittersweet and Green Alkanet


Bees Favourite.

Bees pay this wildflower constant attention over its long flowering season, seeking out the star-shaped PURPLE and YELLOW flowers wherever they appear. When pollinated, the flowers become toxic RED berries.


Solanum dulcamara has been valued by herbalists since ancient Greek times. In the Middle Ages the plant was thought to be effective against witchcraft, and was sometimes hung around the neck of cattle to protect them from the “evil eye“.

John Gerard‘s Herball (1597) states that “the juice is good for those that have fallen from high places, and have been thereby bruised or beaten, for it is thought to dissolve blood congealed or cluttered anywhere in the intrals and to heale the hurt places.”


Wikipedia cites biological uses of Bittersweet against chronic eczema, E.Coli and ringworm.



‘The red berries are very attractive, very toxic but, fortunately, very bitter so it is implicated in only a handful of accidental poisonings.’



 bittersweet buds

  Bittersweet’s Irish name is Fuath dubh: …“this scrambling plant trails itself through hedgerows and scrub and is also to be found on maritime shingle…”


Other names: Amara dulcis, Bitter nightshade, Bittersweet nightshade, Blue bindweed, Climbing nightshade, Dwale, Fellenwort, Fevertwig, Fool’s cap, Poisonberry, Poisonflower, Skawcoo, Snakeberry, Tether-devil, Violet-bloom, Wild Potato Flower, Wolfgrape, Woody nightshade


The Bittersweet climber in the Northeast corner of our back garden was there for years, growing to two metres in height. In 2016 a new, self-seeded Bittersweet vine appeared in the front of the house, climbing vigorously through our front garden railings. When flowering time came it was quickly discovered by bees.

Bittersweet front garden crop.

Bittersweet, front garden