The Wild Vegetable Called "Unti" | American Black Nightshade (Solanum americanum))

Hey! You are picking my plant’s shoots. There were two chili pepper plants there two years ago so I thought he was harvesting young chili leaves.

He replied, Are you eating this too? Yes, of course. I do eat chili leaves.

He answered again and said it was not chili leaves. The plants he was harvesting were called “unti“.

It was another unfamiliar word for the taking. I came near and saw what it really was. I could not find the two chili plant that were there. All I see were weeds with succulent looking stems and numerous bead-like fruits.

unti plants distant viewIf my memory serves me right. The fruit bunches become dark violet when ripe.

unti plantsI thought the group of plants are just weeds, growing under the partial shade of nara and himbabao tree. He further told me it is good as bulanglang with ripe tomatoes or as adjunct with other vegetable dishes.

I wanted to try it….

Very little information is available about this plant. Please help me list more. Every little knowledge you share would be of great help.

UPDATE…

Thanks to Elsie for helping identify this weed! See comments below.

It is very similar to Solanum americanum, commonly called as Amarican black nightshade. Hmm.. I never thought it has a nice sounding English name. I am a bit sad as I have no more access to area where I first saw it. Hoping to cross path with this again for double confirmation.

The plants features, history, uses and toxicity are well discussed in eattheweeds.com. Follow the link below if you want to read more about it.

Here are the important things in case you are lazy like me. Fruits are poisonous when green but edible when ripe, colored black. Leaves and stalks are also edible. On the other hand, there are reports that fruits, wether green or ripe and leaves are poisonous. There were also reports of death.

If you are in doubt, don’t eat it.


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7 Comments

  • So these are the other names of this vegetable. Here in our place, Baler, it is called “amsi”. It has a bitter taste yet crunchy when cooked. The typical dish for amsi is the “bulanglang” or boiled vegetables in dark fish sauce, wherein we boil enough water for the recipe together with the dark fish sauce and enough-to-desired amount of quartered ripe tomatoes (the more, the better). Allow the mixture to boil until the tomatoes are very soft and already gave out its juice( the longer the cooking of the tomatoes, the better). Then, we will add the hard vegetables like squash, or sweet potato(camote), string beans, etc. Finally, the young leaves of “amsi” and other leaves like camote tops, squash’s, etc.

    • Thanks for sharing. I really appreciate it !

  • Hello! Just like you I have also been searching the net for information about this plant, whether anyone else recognize it, and also the English name or common name and the scientific name. We also have an abundance of this “Unti” plant growing in our backyard. Previously, I thought they were just ordinary weeds, but fortunately, many years back, a friend of ours told us that this plant is edible and since then we have been enjoying this. It is good in guinisang monggo, in sinigang and also in tinolang manok. Ilocanos call this plant “Am-amsi.” You may check out more information about this plant in these links: http://lessonslearnedthrueverything.blogspot.com/2015/11/must-try-vegetables.html
    http://www.eattheweeds.com/american-nightshade-a-much-maligned-edible/

    • By the way, the common English names are Black Nightshade, Indian Nightshade, and Eastern Black Nightshade. The scientific name is Solanum Ptychantum.

      • Many thanks, Elsie !

  • hello po

  • I also found this plant growing unexpectedly in my backyard (here in the US) a few years back, but understood that it was not edible. It’s leaves, when just starting to grow, look like they are eggplant leaves, but a miniature version. Recently, another of these started growing and I thought it was an eggplant plant, but after it started having the “fruits”, I knew it was this unedible or weed-like plant I had uprooted before, so I pulled out the entire plant again. If only I had come across your article sooner, I would have tried adding it to bulanglang, as suggested. It’s weird that you mention there were chili or pepper plants in that spot before, because this “unti” grew right beside my pepper plant. Maybe the same insects that favor pepper plants are responsible for this “unti” growing out unexpectedly. Please update me if you get more info on this. I am also just as curious.

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