Carolina Horsenettle

So, last fall I discovered what I thought was a gooseberry was actually Solanum carolinense (a member of the nightshade family). Yes, I know it’s poisonous. It’s growing in the field where we’ll be planting out our orchard, and it’s in 2 neighboring fields that I know of. I’m surprised it’s growing here in a zone 4a/4b location. I understand it’s common in more southern climates. I’m wondering if anyone can relate their experience with trying to eliminate or control it. I know it spreads by rhizomes. Would spot spraying glyphosate be effective? I’d like to work on eliminating it before we begin planting out the trees from the nursery bed. We’re regularly mowing the field now, and that’s stopped the fruits from forming, so I hope we have the spread by seed under control. Just mowing has seemed to reduce it’s vigor.

2 herbicides I know of that work on rhizomatous weeds:

retail - Turflon Ester
commercial - Triclopyr 4E

Hey Andy, Horsenettle is extremely common and widespread here in the southeastern USA. The yellow extremely stinky berries cause it to spread by seeds, and of course a piece of the rhizome and voila a new plant is created. Glysphosphate (which is not a favorite of mine) is only marginally effective usually only damaging the leaves a bit.
Best method is probably just continue to mow/hoe the above portions of the plant. This does slowly weaken it. Good luck…at least your growing season is shorter! Randy/GA

Thank you Richard!

Thanks Randy! Regular mowing is definitely on the agenda!

I don’t have experience with horsenettle, but I can say that stuff with rhizomes or stolons just laughs at glyphosate. Gly may burn down the top growth, but it won’t kill it. Generic triclopyr or brand name Crossbow (there are generic equivalents of Crossbow, I just don’t know what you’ll find locally) will get the job done.


Randy, as a barefoot boy I recall hoeing it in the tobacco patches…and stepping on the spines. But unless it was an older tough plant, my feet were usually tougher!

Those spines are nasty! I dig up a bare section below ground so I have something to grab.


I’ve seen those out in our south pasture. I didn’t know what they were until I did a little web research and found out. I thought they looked like little tomatoes, then noticed the name for them was Solanum carolinense, so that was interesting to see. But, as you mentioned they are poisonous. And they have very nasty thorns, I tried to pick up some of the vines and got nipped, even through gloves.

Since we don’t grow anything out there, I just let them be. I’ve seen very few of them in our gardens, but not enough to worry about.