Ball Nightshade: A Rare and Deadly Plant
Ball nightshade (Solanum mammosum) is a tropical plant that belongs to the same family as tomatoes, potatoes and eggplants. It is also known as nipplefruit, cow’s udder, or apple of Sodom. It has yellow flowers and distinctive fruits that resemble human breasts or animal udders. The fruits are poisonous and can cause vomiting, diarrhea, convulsions and death if ingested.
Ball nightshade is native to South America, but it has been introduced to other regions of the world as an ornamental plant or a weed. It can grow up to 1.5 meters tall and prefers sunny and moist habitats. It is often found in gardens, roadsides, fields and waste areas. It can also be used as a natural pesticide, as it repels insects and rodents with its unpleasant odor.
Despite its toxicity, ball nightshade has some medicinal and cultural uses. In traditional medicine, it is used to treat skin diseases, ulcers, wounds, asthma, coughs and rheumatism. Some people also believe that it can ward off evil spirits or bring good luck. However, these uses are not recommended without proper guidance from a qualified practitioner, as the plant can be very dangerous if mishandled or consumed.
Ball nightshade is a rare and deadly plant that should be avoided by humans and animals alike. It is not edible and has no nutritional value. It can cause serious harm or even death if ingested or touched. If you encounter this plant in your area, do not touch it or pick it. If you suspect that you or someone else has been poisoned by it, seek medical attention immediately.
How to Identify and Avoid Ball Nightshade
Ball nightshade can be easily recognized by its distinctive fruits that resemble human breasts or animal udders. The fruits are green when immature and turn yellow or orange when ripe. They have a smooth and shiny surface and are covered with small bumps. They are usually arranged in clusters of three to five at the end of the branches. The fruits are about 5 to 10 cm long and 4 to 6 cm wide.
The leaves of ball nightshade are oval-shaped and have wavy edges. They are dark green on the upper surface and lighter green on the lower surface. They are about 10 to 20 cm long and 5 to 15 cm wide. The flowers of ball nightshade are star-shaped and have five petals. They are yellow with purple or brown spots at the base. They are about 2 to 3 cm in diameter and appear in clusters of 10 to 20 at the leaf axils.
Ball nightshade can be confused with other plants that have similar fruits, such as eggplants, tomatoes or peppers. However, these plants have different flowers, leaves and stems. Ball nightshade has yellow flowers with purple or brown spots, while eggplants, tomatoes and peppers have white, yellow or purple flowers without spots. Ball nightshade has oval leaves with wavy edges, while eggplants, tomatoes and peppers have lobed or toothed leaves. Ball nightshade has a woody stem with spines, while eggplants, tomatoes and peppers have a herbaceous stem without spines.
To avoid ball nightshade, do not touch or pick any plant that has fruits that resemble human breasts or animal udders. Do not eat any fruit that you are not sure of its identity or origin. Do not use any plant as a natural pesticide or medicine without proper guidance from a qualified practitioner. If you see ball nightshade growing in your area, report it to the local authorities or remove it carefully with gloves and dispose of it safely.