Carolina Horsenettle

Common Name: Carolina Horsenettle.

Scientific Name: Solanum Carolinense.

What to look for?  Lovely lavender, star-shaped flowers with bright yellow stamens on prickly foliage. The Carolina Horsenettle has long stems with scattered white or yellow spines. The alternate green leaves are long and ovate. The upper stems terminate in small clusters of star-shaped, lavender flowers with five (5) petals. Near the center, there are five (5) prominent elongated yellow anthers. The Carolina Horsenettle had no noticeable floral scent. After the blooming period, round fruits develop that contain numerous seeds. The root system has creeping underground rhizomes, which are responsible for the vegetative spread of this plant.

Where can they be found at Carillon Stonegate Pond? The Carolina Horsenettle plant may be found in fields along the edge of forest preserve.

How big are they? The Carolina Horsenettle is typically three (3) feet tall. The ovate leaves are approximately six (6) inches long and three (3) inches across. The flowers are three-quarters (3/4) of an inch across.

Where do they grow and thrive? Carolina Horsenettle is native to the eastern United States but found in most of the states. Habitats include prairies, woodland openings, and edges, abandoned fields, areas along roadsides and railroads, vacant fields, and other waste areas. This plant is typically observed in disturbed areas.

When do they bloom? The blooming period of the Carolina Horsenettle usually occurs from early summer to early fall, and typically lasts about six (6) weeks.

Do birds, insects or other wildlife associate with this plant? Bumblebees visit the flowers to collect pollen. Because of this plant’s scattered spines and toxicity, few birds, insects, or other wildlife feed on Carolina Horsenettle.

Interesting Facts About the Carolina Horsenettle:

  • Carolina Horsenettle - one of the native wildflowers of the prairie - is widely regarded as a weed and with some justification.

  • The berries are toxic or poisonous to humans and livestock.

For more information on the Carolina Horsenettle and sources of information used in this blog (these are several of the sources that I am using to learn as I blog), please visit Illinois Wildflowers, Minnesota Wildflowers, and Kansas Wildflowers.

The Carillon at Stonegate community is very fortunate to have a variety of wetland, forest and prairie environments conducive to a variety of birds and other wildlife, insects and plants. Our community and the Kane County Forest Preserve do an exceptional job in maintaining this natural environment – both for the benefit of the birds and wildlife and for our residents to enjoy.

 

Take a hike and see what you can find – and identify!