Family Solanaceae, composed of at least 2,400 species of flowering plants in about 95 genera. Though found worldwide, the nightshades are most abundant in tropical Latin America. Many are economically important as food or medicinal plants. Among the most important are the potato, eggplant, tomato, garden pepper, tobacco, and many garden ornamentals, including the petunia. The medicinally significant nightshades are potent sources of such alkaloids as nicotine, atropine, and scopolamine; they include deadly nightshade (belladonna), jimsonweed (Datura stramonium), henbane, and mandrake. The genus Solanum contains almost half the species in the family. The species usually called nightshade in North America and England is S. dulcamara, also called bittersweet and woody nightshade.
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Purple Nightshade flowers are a blue purple and approximately an inch wide, and foliage is dark green. It blooms in spring to early summer. The plant is poisonous to humans. Due to Purple Nightshade's poisonous nature, tomatoes (also a member of the Nightshade family) were thought to be as equally toxic by many North Americans as late as the early eighteenth century.