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Nature in your Neighborhood Plant Discoveries

Updated: Feb 8, 2021

During the shelter-in-place, Sutro Stewards with partnership from Handson Bay Area created Nature in you Neighborhood a virtual volunteering experience where we challenge volunteers to go out into their backyard and neighborhoods to see what plants they can find near them! Below is one submission from our project with the youth from Handson Tomorrow. We hope you enjoy their discoveries!

By: Dianna Borrison

The Solanum laxum, more commonly known as the potato vine, is a beautiful vine with little white flowers that I found along the fence of my backyard. This plant is ornamental. It is native to South America, but grown in gardens worldwide for its beauty and pleasant aromas. The berries that grow on the vines of the Solanum laxum plants are poisonous to humans as well as to animals and should never be ingested. While it is called a potato vine, this plant is actually a part of the nightshade family which includes plants such as chili peppers, tomatoes and potatoes.

The second plant I found in my yard is called Soleirolia soleirolii, more commonly known as baby tears. They  are tiny green herbs that grow in mats all throughout my yard as weeds. Baby tears are native to the Mediterranean region and are grown ornamentally in gardens, homes, and pet habitats everywhere. These plants prefer shade to thrive, some living in swamps, and are commonly used in amphibian habitats. Their name comes from an 1800s botanist called Joseph-François Soleirol, who was the first to discover and collect these tiny sprouts. For serving no true purpose, baby tears are commonly seen as a pest due to their extreme ease in reproducing.

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