One of the newer, yet very invasive, weeds encountered in the Dawn Road Reserve has been Brazilian nightshade (Solanum seaforthianum), a deceptively pretty creeper with lavender florets and berries that are green when immature and bright red when ripe.
A native of Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean and tropical South America, the Brazilian nightshade has become a weed species after being introduced here then escaping from domestic gardens to invade surrounding bushland, choking out a range of native plant species.
Brazilian nightshade can grow to 5m in height (that is taller than a single-storey house!). It has three- to nine-lobed leaves, with mauve or purple flowers that have petals 10-15 mm long, and relatively large shiny red berries (8-12 mm across) that contain the plant’s seeds.
Like most pest species with berries, their seeds are widely spread by birds who eat the berries. However, the berries are poisonous to humans!!
Images: Trina McLellan