Horse nettle/ Solanum Carolinense/bull nettle or “Devil’s tomato”

I’ve said this elsewhere, but it bears repeating, how in the world did Henry Flagler and other settlers decide to live in Florida? We’ve got humidity, scorching sun, a plethora of bugs that want to eat you: ticks, mosquitoes, chiggers, yellow flies, biting ants, fire ants, alligators, venomous snakes and toxic toads.

As if that’s not enough, no, we’ve also got invasive plants that are either out to get you or will just swallow everything, or both: poison ivy, green briar, black raspberries (wicked thorns!), stinging nettles, Devil’s walking stick, air potato, wisteria, Virginia creeper, poison oak, and Devil’s tomatoes. And lucky me, I’ve got all but the poison oak on my property.

Devil tomato plant sketch from memory as I couldn’t find one to photograph at the time of this post

The Devil’s tomato was a surprise. I’d never heard of it before. I was clearing an area completely overgrown with weeds and oak saplings when this glimmer of color caught my attention. For all the world, it looked like a little cherry tomato plant…until I got closer and saw the hellish spikes all over it, on the stem, jutting out from the sides of the leaves, and set like daggers coming right out of the leaf surfaces themselves. I carefully dug it out and bagged it. When the area was clear enough, I got the mower in. I felt sure I’d gotten it. But no, the next year, there were more. And now I keep finding little starts coming up around the yard.

Hah! Found a little one after I posted this originally. See the “fuzz” on the leaves? Not friendly fuzz like a geranium. No petting!

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