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Book cover - Common Weeds of New ZealandAn Illustrated Guide to
Common Weeds
of New Zealand


Solanum linnaeanum
apple of Sodom


Reproduced from
Common Weeds of New Zealand
by Ian Popay, Paul Champion & Trevor James
ISBN 0 473 09760 5
by kind permission of the
New Zealand Plant Protection Society

Publication or other use of images or descriptive text on these pages is unauthorised unless written permission is obtained from the authors and publisher.
Appropriate acknowledgement of the publication Common Weeds of New Zealand must always be given.

Available from Nationwide Book Distributors

Solanum linnaeanum - apple of Sodom

Short, spreading, strongly spiny, woody perennial shrub up to 1 m or more tall. Mauve or violet flowers 3 cm across, followed by green and white mottled berries, ripening to yellow. Leaves lobed, downy underneath. The most common prickly species of Solanum in NZ.

  • Flowers Mauve or violet, 25-35 mm in diameter, on hairy stalks up to 10 mm long. Anthers 4-6 mm long. Flowers in few-flowered clusters. Flowers Sep-May.
  • Fruit Mottled green and white berries up to 3 cm in diameter. Yellow when mature. Poisonous.
  • Leaves Egg-shaped to oblong, up to 9 cm long by 7 cm wide, dark green on the upper surface, downy underneath. Deeply and irregularly divided into lobes with shallowly-waved margins.
  • Stems Branched, with strong yellow spines up to 1 cm long and scattered, star-shaped hairs.
  • Roots Non-suckering.


Frost-free coastal sands, poor pasture and scrub margins.


NI only, common on coastal and inland lowland North Auckland and Auckland. Less common south to Taranaki and Hawkes Bay. Originally from north Africa.


Generally regarded as a poisonous plant, but not often eaten by stock.

Related species

Solanum marginatum - white-edged nightshadeWhite-edged nightshade (Solanum marginatum) is a taller spiny shrub, up to 5 m tall, distinguished by its white felted branches, leaves with white undersides, and upper sides with a frosted margin. Flowers white, sometimes with purple veins. Found in scrub, forest margins, poor pasture, roadsides, waste places. Widespread and sometimes common in NI, locally common in Nelson and occasional in coastal areas as far south as Banks peninsula. Listed on the National Pest Plant Accord (see Introduction for details).

Derivation of botanical name

Solanum Lat. name of a plant; linnaeanum after Carl von Linné (Linnaeus), 18th cent. Swedish botanist.


Web-notes: Weed Links

On this site

Reproduced from Common Weeds of New Zealand:

External Links

WeedbustersWeedbusters New Zealand
Weedbusters is a weeds awareness and education programme that aims to protect New Zealand's environment from the increasing weed problem.
A free tool to assist farmers and agricultural professionals in decision-making regarding weed and pest identification, biology, impact and management.
Weed keyNew Zealand Weeds Key
An interactive identification key to the weeds of New Zealand. Developed at Landcare Research.

New Zealand Plant Conservation Network naturalised plants
Search for information on more than 2500 naturalised and weedy plants.
NZ Plant Protection SocietyNew Zealand Plant Protection Society
Their main objective: "To pool and exchange information on the biology of weeds, invertebrate and vertebrate pests, pathogens and beneficial organisms and methods for modifying their effects."
Massey UniversityMassey University Weeds Database
A site providing information about New Zealand weeds and weed control. It has a series of pages showing pictures of New Zealand weeds, notes on identification and control. It also provides information on a university paper entitled Controlling Weeds.

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Last updated: March 1, 2021