Invasive Speciesbittersweet nightshade

Solanum dulcamara
FOUND by sucrose
2015-09-24
Bangor
ID Confirmed
Quality checked by aceticacid
Peer reviewed by calcuim chromate
Field Notes
I am happy because we get to take our laptops home this week, and we have fun activities we're planning to do. I'm also happy we get to be making observations outside in science class. I see my classmates, nightshade, the fence, and our school. I hear some crickets, voices of my classmates, and cars. I smell gasoline and grass. I am surprised to find something poisonous on school grounds, and amazed at how dangerous bittersweet nightshade can be. It was also interesting how the berries spread so quickly. I wonder if nightshade affects animals that aren't birds, and how. How come it doesn't affect birds? What in the bird's digestive system keeps it from dying? Why is there something so poisonous on school grounds?
A sketch of our study site.
Supporting Evidence
Photo of my evidence.
The organism we found looks exactly like the photos and descriptions on the photo identification card, and fits the description of bittersweet nightshade. Also, the bittersweet nightshade a slim stem that is brown and looks similar to wood. The red berries hang in large clumps on the slender stalks.
Photo of my evidence.
The plant we found has dark green leaves, and a long skinny stem. The berries are small, red, and egg-shaped. The leaves are arrow shaped, and have lobes at the start of each leaf.
Photo of my evidence.
We are positive we found the woody/bittersweet nightshade because of its telltale red berries and dark green arrow-shaped leaves. The stem of this species is flexible and thin. Around the species' developed habitat, there are vines and shrubs that climb over the plants. Inside the berries are seeds that birds eat and digest to plant new berries. This is our evidence that we found the invasive species bittersweet nightshade.
Species Observation: Species Looked For
Did you find it?: 
I think I found it
Scientific name:
Solanum dulcamara
Common name:
bittersweet nightshade
Count of individuals: 
20-50
Coverage: 
Between 1/4 and 1/2
Reproduction: 
Fruit (plants)
Sampling method: 
Just looking around
Photo of our sampling method.
Place Studied
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Map this species
Latitude: 
N 44.811309 °
Longitude: 
W -68.755743 °
Observation Site Information
A photo of our study site.
Habitat: 
Upland - Developed areas
Trip Information
Name:
William S. Cohen Middle School
Trip date: 
Thu, 2015-09-24 10:38
Town or city: 
Bangor
Type of investigation: 
Species and Habitat Survey
Ecosystem: 
Upland
Watershed: 
Penobscot
Habitat Observations
Species diversity: 
4 different species
Evidence of vectors: 
Paved road
People
Tree canopy cover: 
Between 1/2 and 3/4
Soil moisture: 
Moist

Comments

First in your field notes you gave A LOT of detail about where you were and what you saw and hear. You also have some nice question in you field notes. In your supporting evidence you added tons of details about what it looks like and how you found it. All around great job!!

Great pictures plus awesome data. You could not have done any better

I agree. I think this is bittersweet nightshade. Your questions are really interesting. In particular, your questions about bird digestive systems and other animals. If you find anything out, I hope you will share it here.

Thanks for sharing!
-Christine

Hi Christine!
Thank you for you for commenting on our report. We found out that bird digestive systems can sometimes be harmed by nightshade. That doesn't stop them from eating them though. A study by Kent State University examined the contents of stomachs of dead birds. Four of these birds had eaten the nightshade berries. It also depends on the type of nightshade. The berries of the Deadly Nightshade are much more poisonous than those of the Woody and Bittersweet Nightshade. Birds can ingest the berries of the Woody and Bittersweet nightshades without having too much harm come to them, while eating Deadly Nightshade may have a higher probability of poisoning. Of course, this may vary from bird to bird or species to species, because some birds have stronger and more tolerant stomachs. But on the other hand, you would have to ingest quite a few of those little berries to go on to the point of death. So if eaten in moderation, the birds will not be harmed by them venom and will, um, "poop out" the seeds so the nightshade can reproduce.
Thanks for looking at our report!
Team Sucrose

Wow!! You did a ton of research. That's really interesting. Did you enjoy researching this? Did you get ideas for future research or investigations you would like to do?

One little science vocabulary note - venom is a toxin that is injected, like by a snake, and poison is a toxin that is eaten or absorbed. I used to study rattlesnakes which are venomous (just their DNA, so I never handled live snakes) and salamanders (which are often poisonous if eaten), so I just like to share that when I see people use poison and venom interchangeably.

Thanks for sharing your research!!

-Christine