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Important Members of the Nightshade Family

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Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The family, Solanaceae, has the common name of nightshade, which sounds like something to avoid like the plague, includes some of our favorite vegetables. Besides tomatoes, other members are peppers, eggplants, and potatoes, and still an important agricultural crop, tobacco. Flowers include Datura, brugmansia, petunias and nicotiana. One important gardening and farming practice is crop rotation. If you plant the same crop over and over again, diseases that favor that plant family will build up in the soil, you should wait at least a year before planting other members of that family in the same spot. Deadly nightshade is one plant you probably won’t have on your list – it was the source of belladonna which women used to get those dilated pupils – or bedroom eyes. In Italian Belladonna means beautiful woman but too much of it can be deadly.

Amanda McNulty is a Clemson University Extension Horticulture agent and the host of South Carolina ETV’s Making It Grow! gardening program. She studied horticulture at Clemson University as a non-traditional student. “I’m so fortunate that my early attempts at getting a degree got side tracked as I’m a lot better at getting dirty in the garden than practicing diplomacy!” McNulty also studied at South Carolina State University and earned a graduate degree in teaching there.