New Mexico Wildflowers: Potato (or Nightshade) Family

(Solanaceae)

 

Flowers are organized alphabetically by genus and species. Hover over a photo series to control the images.


Chinese Thorn-Apple (Datura quercifolia)

Despite this plant's name, it's a native species. The leaves are supposedly shaped somewhat like oak leaves. I don't know about that, but the leaves are definitely different from those on the locally more common sacred datura. The flowers are about the length of a finger, and not nearly as showy as sacred datura flowers. Chinese thorn-apple flowers have an obvious purple tinge but as one of my sacred datura pictures shows, that isn't definitive. Instead, use small, purple-tinged flowers in combination with the dissected leaves to make your ID.

 

Sacred Datura, Thorn-Apple (Datura wrightii)

The flowers of this species of Datura are stunningly white. But as one of my photos show, the flowers rarely have a purplish tinge at the edges. Supposedly this is due to insufficient water. If you see a purple-tinged Datura with leaves vaguely shaped like oak leaves, that's the previous species.

 

Frutilla, Pale Wolfberry (Lycium pallidum)

The branches of this wolfberry have many small thorns, which you may not notice until you grasp them. Later in the year, look for reddish berries.

 

Torrey Wolfberry (Lycium torreyi)

 

Ivy-Leaf Ground Cherry (Physalis hederifolia)

 

Silverleaf Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)

Silverleaf Nightshade is a common New Mexico weed, both in Albuquerque and in rural areas. It's poisonous to livestock (and humans). Once the purple and yellow flowers die away, the plants produce round seed pods that turn yellow and can last into the next year.

 

Buffalobur Nightshade (Solanum rostratum)