do birds eat nightshade berries

Where to find deadly nightshade

Examine woodland and brushy areas, as well as paths and banks. It is primarily found on calcareous (chalky) soil in the southern half of Britain and in disturbed soil areas. If the plant is occasionally found further north, it’s probably a holdover from populations that were once planted for medicinal purposes.

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While birds are more likely to consume the fruits of other plant species, some can consume the berries of deadly nightshade. Although the berries are toxic to many mammals, cows and rabbits eat them!

It was once believed that deadly nightshade belonged to the Devil, and that anyone who eats the berries would suffer the consequences of doing so. In art and poetry, it represents danger and betrayal.

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What does deadly nightshade look like?

Deadly nightshade is a perennial plant with long, thin branches.

Leaves: oval-shaped, untoothed with smooth edges and pointed ends. They are poisonous and grow in an alternating pattern on stalks.

Flowers: bell-shaped with purple and green colouration, around 2. 5–3cm in length.

Fruit: glossy black berries that are visible where the fruit clings to the plant, displaying five sepals. The berries are also highly poisonous.

Not to be confused with woody nightshade, also known as bittersweet, which has flowers the same color as deadly nightshade. On the other hand, bittersweet flowers are suspended from purple stems and have noticeable yellow anthers. The berries are poisonous, but they are red rather than black. Did you know?.

With a bloody past, deadly nightshade is believed to have been used by the first Macbeth to poison Duncan’s soldiers.

Legal status in King County, Washington

The Washington State Noxious Weed List does not include bittersweet nightshade, and property owners are not obligated to eradicate this plant. But in King County, it’s considered a Weed of Concern, so management is advised, particularly in natural areas reverting to their original vegetation and along stream banks where nightshade can impede fish habitat.

See Noxious Weed Lists and Laws for additional details regarding noxious weed definitions and regulations.


Which birds eat nightshade?

Frugivorous birds such as crows, eastern kingbirds, mimic-thrushes, thrushes, white-crowned sparrow, and waxwings eat the fruits of bittersweet nightshade.

What animals eat nightshade berries?

Horses, rabbits, sheep, goats, and pigs have all been observed eating the leaves of Deadly Nightshade without visible negative symptoms, and some birds are able to consume the berries. These animals also aid in the distribution of Atropa belladonna, carrying the seeds around and depositing them in different locations.

Can crows eat nightshade berries?

Photo by Svetlana Foote, Shutterstock. Seeds and fruits make up nearly three-quarters of the American Crow’s diet. This includes: corn, wheat, oats, chokecherries, Poison Ivy, pistachios, grapes, Red Osier Dogwood fruits, Bittersweet Nightshade berries, pecans, and watermelons, among other things.

What is the difference between nightshade and black nightshade?

A comparison of the fruit shows that the black nightshade berries grow in bunches, whereas the deadly nightshade berries grow individually. Another distinction is black nightshade flowers have white petals.