Here’s a lovely photo which Elodie sent me today of a plant which grows well in Amsterdam. Apple of Peru, Shoofly plant (Nicandra physalodes) is a member of the Nightshade family (Solanacaea) and is somewhat poisonous. It is said to be useful as an insect repellent. I saw some seed heads from this plant at the seed swap yesterday but couldn’t remember the name. The seed heads look like pretty lanterns but the tell take tomato truss like arrangement of the fruit and the kinks in the truss stem, told me instantly that it was a nightshade.
I’m not a big fan of Nightshades but they do have many uses. Not that all Nightshades are poisonous, but all contain quantities of chemicals which should be avoided in excess. Some members of the family are packed with the toxins (such as Belladonna) so just a berry or leaf would give that excess and could kill. Others have it in quantity within the green parts alone and the fruits can be eaten occasionally (such as aubergine and tomato). Others are somewhere in between (such as Bittersweet and Black nightshade). It seems that Apple of Peru is an in between nightshade, though I won’t be testing that. It looks and feels very poisonous to me but is very pretty so it’s easy to see why it has survived.