Solanum pseudocapsicum is a nightshade species with poisonous fruit. It is commonly known as the Jerusalem cherry, Madeira winter cherry, or, ambiguously, “winter cherry”. These perennials can be grown decoratively as house plants, but in some areas of South Africa, Australia and New Zealand it is regarded as a weed.
They generally live up to 10 years, producing fruit usually in their second or third year, and every year after that. They are congeners of tomatoes and the fruit is extremely similar to cherry tomatoes in taste and texture, and are therefore easily confused with them.
The Jerusalem cherry’s poison is primarily solanocapsine, which is similar to other alkaloids found in their genus, such as solanine and atropine. Although the toxin is poisonous, it is generally not life-threatening to humans. It may cause gastric problems, including vomiting and gastroenteritis. Jerusalem cherries are also highly poisonous to dogs, cats, and some birds.