nightshade? September 14, 2012 by Meadows and More Question from Betsy in Maine: my housekeeper has been waiting to harvest this weed’s leaves for soup. But someone else beat her to it…can you help tell what it is. she calls it “mara” Comments 2 thoughts on “nightshade?” Karl Anderson said: Yeeeah – that’s a nightshade. One of three very hard to distinguish species – American nightshade, West Indian nightshade, and black nightshade. S. americanum has shiny berries, S. nigrum berries are dull. There is a great amount of confusion regarding the edibility or toxicity of the leaves and (especially) the fruits of those three species, possibly because of the difficulty in telling one from the other. There does seem to be consensus the the leaves, especially young leaves, are edible after cooking (sometimes after twice-cooking). What language is “mara”? This might be a chance to learn something from your housekeeper. Karl A. . Karl Anderson said: There’s a pretty good discussion of these nightshades on http://www.eattheweeds.com/ Also a lot of other interesting discussion – maybe you all know this site but I just tripped over it. And from the same site, an interesting approach to any unknown edible “let me watch you harvest it, cook it, and eat it, and if you are still alive in a week I might consider it”. Karl A. Leave a Reply Cancel reply You must be logged in to post a comment.