Winter cherry plants are scientifically known as both Solanum pseudocapsicum and Solanum capsicastrum. The plants originate in Brazil and Peru. Winter cherry plants are a variety of nightshade plants that are noteworthy for their toxic berry fruit. Other common names for the plant include the Madeira Winter Cherry and the Jerusalem Cherry. The perennial plants are often used as ornamental houseplants, but are classified as an invasive weed in some parts of the world, such as Australia.
Winter cherry plants usually grow to heights of between 1 1/2 and 2 feet, with spacing of 9 to 12 inches. Winter cherry plants feature deep bluish-green and evergreen leaves that have soft and smooth textures. The leaves can be lanceolate or oblong, and are 2 to 3 inches in length, with wavy margins. The evergreen, upright and bushy shrub is small and has tiny, inconspicuous and white flowers that are shaped similarly to stars. The flowers are approximately 1/2 inch across. The plant's poisonous fruit is ellipsoid and small, with a colour that ranges from red to orange-red. The lifespan of the plant is approximately one decade.
Winter cherry plants are highly tolerant to both humidity and heat, and require protection against frost, although they can survive in cold climates. Winter cherry plants thrive when grown in full sun, within evenly moist soil that has some sand or some clay. For indoor growth, bright light is optimal. The necessary moisture levels can be anything from normal to on the dry side. The plants bloom from the middle to the end of the summer season, and are beneficial for indoor growth. Winter cherry plants call for regular watering, although it is vital to avoid watering them excessively. They can easily be propagated via seeds and stem cuttings. In the second of third year of the plant's life, it generally starts producing fruit.
Winter cherry plants are poisonous. All of the plant's parts, including its seeds and its fruit, are toxic upon ingestion. Swallowing any parts of winter cherry plants could lead to stomach upset. Other signs of ingestion include abdominal pain, drowsiness, salivation, throwing up, nausea respiratory depression and weakness. It is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible in any cases of ingesting the plant. The plants are toxic due to containing alkaloids such as solanocapsine.
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