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Detailed information sheet

Click on the photos for a larger image.

Botanical name :
Solanum mauritianum
Family :
Solanaceae (nightshade) family 
Common name :
woolly nightshade 
Also known as :
tobacco weed, flannel-leaf, kerosene plant, Solanum auriculatum
Where is it originally
from? :
South America
What does it look like? :
Spreading, capsicum-smelling shrub or small tree to 10 m tall with all parts covered in dusty hairs, and whitish, branching, soft-woody stems. Velvety, oval, grey green leaves (10-35 x 3-15 cm) are whitish underneath with prominent ‘ears’ (25mm) at base which clasp the stem. Dense clusters of mauve to purple flowers (15-20 mm diameter) with yellow anthers appear from January to December, followed by clusters of round berries (1 cm diameter) that ripen from hard green to soft, dull yellow. 
Are there any similar
species? :
White-edged nightshade (Solanum marginatum), has spiny leaves and stems. Datura or angels trumpet (Brugmansia species) have similar leaves but giant hanging white (occasionally mauve, red, orange) flowers with a sweet scent.
Why is it weedy? :
Grows and matures rapidly, forming dense tall stands and producing many well-dispersed seeds most of year. Allelopathic (produces toxins that poison the soil), inhibits regeneration. Tolerates wet to dry conditions, salt, all well-drained soils, hot to cool temperatures, semi-shade, damage and grazing. 
How does it spread? :
Birds, especially native pigeon, spread the seeds. Common seed sources are gullies, roadsides, neglected farms, orchards, plantation forests, waste land, and shelter belts. 
What damage does it do? :
Forms dense, often pure stands. Inhibits or prevents establishment of native plant seedlings, and slows regeneration rate of native forests. 
Which habitats is
it likely to invade? :
Heavily disturbed forest and light gaps, shrublands, coastal and estuarine margins, inshore islands, consolidated sand dunes, wetlands, some tussocklands, and places epiphytes would usually be found, especially in well-drained low-frost areas. 
What can I do to get
rid of it? :
1. Pull up all small plants (easiest in winter). Leave on site to rot down.
2. Cut and squirt (all year round): make cuts at regular intervals around the trunk, apply undiluted Tordon Brushkiller (1.5ml per cut).
3. Cut and paint stumps (all year round): Tordon Brushkiller or triclopyr 600 EC (100ml/L) or Vigilant gel.
4. Frilling (all year round): Tordon Brushkiller (100ml /L) or triclopyr 600 g/L (100ml/L) or Yates Woody Weedkiller (200ml/L).
5. Injection method: use either 10 mm wide holes drilled at 45 degree angle down into trunk 50 mm deep spaced at 50 mm around trunk, or a series of 80 mm wide blazes cut to a depth of 15-20 mm, spaced at 20-40 mm. Fill each with Vigilant gel.
6. Spray: Tordon Brushkiller (25ml/10L) or triclopyr 600 EC (60ml/10L) or triclopyr 300 EC (12ml/L). 
What can I do to
stop it coming back? :
Cut stems resprout quickly. Reseeds profusely in bared sites within 1-2 years. Rarely invades intact habitats. Maintain shade by planting dense cover. Usually short-lived seed, follow up three years. Maintain rolling front of control. Exclude livestock, maintain vertebrate pest control.

Description:Solanum mauritianum.Photo:by L.Vervoort.

Description:Woolly nightshade berries.Photo:C.Lewis

Description:Woolly nightshade flowers and berries.Photo:C.Lewis

Description:Solanum mauritianum, woolly nightshade, Auckland.Photo:by J.Boow.

Description:Woolly nightshade infestation.Photo:C.Lewis


For more detailed botanical descriptions of weed species, check out the Plant Conservation Network's website at http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/exotic_plant_life_and_weeds/index.asp

Click here for Herbicides and Trade names

*The chemical control methods in this manual were devised by Department of Conservation staff for Department of Conservation operations and should not be used as a substitute for the pesticide manufacturer's label instructions. The Department of Conservation takes no responsibility for any liability or damage to any person, property or thing which may occur as a result of the use of any pesticide in accordance with the chemical control methods contained on this website.


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