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Buffalo Burr

Buffalo burr plant

Buffalo burr leaf

Buffalo burr burrs

Apple of sodom plant

Apple of sodom ripe fruit

Apple of sodom green fruit & leaf

Forest nightshade green fruit

Forest nightshade flower




Buffalo burr or pincushion nightshade (Solanum rostratum) is listed as noxious in class 4 in Southern Slopes LCA.


An annual herb to 1 metre high, green or grey-green with short fine stellate hairs (in clusters, may need magnification to be visible) and numerous long prickles on most parts of the plant (stems, leaves and leaf stalks, flower calyx). Leaves are 2-10cm by 1-8cm in size, alternately arranged on the stems, with deeply lobed margins, the lobes rounded rather than pointed, both sides of the leaf greyish hairy as well as prickly. Flowers are yellow, 2-3cm across and carried in the leaf axils in clusters of up to 10. The 5 fused petals form a star shape. The fruit is a 1cm diameter berry, blackish when ripe and enclosed in the prickly calyx.

Preferred habitat and impacts

Naturalised in cereal growing areas and recorded from the NSW southern tablelands, central western slopes, south western slopes and more northern parts of the state, and occasional on floodplains in the arid zone. Like most members of the nightshade family it proliferates after disturbance (such as cultivation or fire). Plants germinate in autumn and grow through the winter, flowering in late spring and summer.

Fruits are poisonous but stock losses are rare because the prickles deter stock from eating it. Prickles can cause face and mouth wounds in stock. It contributes to vegetable fault in wool.


Seed is mostly spread as a contaminant of grain crops. The prickly calyx which grasps the fruit can stick to wool and bags and can float on water. The old plants can snap off and blow around as tumble-weeds.


There are many native and naturalised nightshades with dense prickles on the stems, leaves and flowers. All have purple flowers. Buffalo burr is distinctive in being the only yellow-flowered nightshade in Australia. A more common weed with similar deeply lobed leaves is apple of sodom (Solanum linnaeanum), which has large purple flowers and fruits which are yellow when ripe.

The native forest nightshade (Solanum prinophyllum) is illustrated above and is typical of native prickly nightshade plants.


Chip seedlings before they produce seed or cultivate dense infestations, although mature plants are hard to kill by cultivation. Herbicides may be effective.