Hi, Dr. Hill,
This plant is growing in partly shady conditions in mixed pine-oak woods on the Fall Line and photographed Dec. 5. The leaves have short hairs (not coarse) scattered across the top leaf surface. There are three berries, one is still green and two are black. The plant is young and the stem isn’t woody, at least at this time. There also appear to be soft hairs on the main stem.
Thank you so much for the many plant IDs you’ve provided to me and everyone on this site. I know I’ve learned an enormous amount about native plants this past year.
your mystery plant looks like Solanum ptycanthum, a close relative to Solanum nigrum. There are mixed messages on its edibility. One variety is grown under the name ‘wonderberry’ or ‘garden huckleberry’, but other sources say the berries are toxic, so it is probably not a good idea to test them without more research. It is a common native weed in disturbed areas.
Thank you very much for the compliment! I’m glad I could help.
Steve Hill, Botanist, SCNPS