Camouflage and deception on my balcony – a terrorist amongst my chilies…..


A policewoman encouraged me to adopt the strategy  “camouflage and deception” whenever I find myself faced with life’s challenges. Not a natural actress, I have been only moderately successful in following her advice, although I hereby pronounce it very sound indeed. Plants and animals are much better at this type of thing of course. As I discovered recently on my balcony. One day I discovered this enormous plant on my balcony. Like Jack’s bean-stalk it seemed to have grown overnight. Trying to figure out whether it was a friend or foe – I looked at the flowers: 5 petals, white, similar in size and pattern to a chili plant, I looked at the leaves – pointy – similar in size and shape to a habanero plant, the flowers grew in groups rather than on single stalks, but there are so many chilies out there I figured, it’s possible it’s a different kind to the ones I have grown before. I was excited when it suddenly grew, I was excited that it grew so much faster than my chilies, so much more powerfully and with so many more flowers.  I knew that i hadn’t planted it on my balcony, so I decided, a true optimist, that it must have been “planted” by a bird. To note here: I am based in Switzerland, this is not prime chili growing territory…….


So I have loved the plant and coddled it, given it lots of water and fertilizer. And it grew and it grew:

DSC_7907So much like a chili but subtly not (and the leaves did smell funny)

Non Chili

And then the fruit appeared and it was odd, and the seeds were wrong, and the fruit tasted odd (just a small try, yes I know this is not sensible) – and I have identified the plant as a species of Nightshade – not Atropa Belladonna,but some type of Solanum, looks most like Solanum Americanum, but I am not sure we have that here. The berries, when unripe, have nasty side-effects, it’s a weed and you don’t want to eat it……

Looking for flowers and chili plants online I realised there are few resources where the plant is shown with the flower, the fruit and the leaf and so I thought I’d post some of my plants to help others. The plants named – currently unidentified – are either scorpion chiis, naga morichi, or some other deadly chilies, I plant them and label them and by the time I have repotted them a couple of times I lose the identifier. However, as they all bear fruit at some point, it’s easy to identify them then.

some photos of flowers above and some photos of leaves below:


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