10 Weeds That Look Like Tomato Plants


Some weeds that resemble tomato plants include nightshade, ground cherry, and horse nettle. These weeds can be easily confused with tomato plants due to their similar appearance, but can be identified by their distinctive features.


Nightshade has white or purple flowers, while ground cherry has yellow flowers and papery husks around its fruit. Horse nettle has spiny leaves and stems, and produces yellowish green fruit. It is important to identify these weeds accurately as their leaves and fruit can be toxic to humans and animals.

Tomato plants are a common sight in gardens and finding weeds that resemble them can be a cause of concern for gardeners. The weeds that look like tomato plants are able to thrive in the same conditions and can easily overtake the actual plant.

This can cause a significant decrease in crop yield and can be dangerous, as some of these weeds are toxic and can cause harm to humans and animals.

In this article, we will discuss the different types of weeds that look like tomato plants and how to identify them accurately.

Top 10 Weeds That Look Like Tomato Plants

Weed Identification Criteria

Tomato plants are a popular vegetable plant among home gardeners. However, it can be challenging to distinguish them from weeds that have a similar appearance.

Knowing how to differentiate between tomato plants and weeds can help in maintaining a healthy and thriving garden.

Identifying weeds that resemble tomato plants can be a bit tricky. However, by paying attention to specific features, it can be easier to tell them apart. These are some factors to keep in mind:

  • Leaves: The leaves of a tomato plant are smooth and symmetrical, with no serration. On the other hand, weed leaves often have rough and irregular edges that might be serrated.
  • Stems: Tomato plant stems are thick and straight, whereas weed stems are thin and have a zigzag pattern.
  • Flowers: Tomatoes produce small yellow flowers. In contrast, weeds such as nightshade have white or purple flowers that are more significant than tomato flowers.
  • Fruits: Tomato plants bear fruit and are often the reason why people grow them. Weeds also produce fruit, but they appear different from tomato fruits. For instance, nightshade berries are small, bright red, and globe-shaped.

Weeds That Often Resemble Tomato Plants

Various weeds have an appearance similar to tomato plants. Here are some common ones to look out for:

  • Bittersweet nightshade: This weed has purple flowers, followed by small red berries. It resembles tomato plants because it also has smooth leaves that may vary in size.
  • Hairy nightshade: This weed has leaves that are almost identical to tomato leaves. Additionally, it produces small white flowers and spherical green fruit that turns yellow when it ripens.
  • Black nightshade: This weed has leaves that are smooth like tomato leaves. It produces small white flowers and glossy black berries that are similar in appearance to tomato fruits.
  • Ground cherry: This weed has large leaves that resemble tomato leaves. It produces small yellow flowers and yellow-orange fruit with a papery husk.

Knowing how to differentiate between tomato plants and weeds that resemble them can help you keep your garden healthy and thriving.


Keep the above guidelines in mind, and you’ll be able to identify any imposters in no time!

10 Weeds That Look Like Tomato Plants

Here is common 10 weed that is like tomato plant.

1. Common Nightshade (Solanum Nigrum)

If you’re growing tomato plants in your garden, it’s essential to identify weeds that look like tomato plants. Common nightshade is a weed that can be confused with young tomato plants.

Below are some key points to help you distinguish between the two.

  • Appearance: Common nightshade usually has purple stems with pointed leaves that are rounded at the base. They typically grow up to 3.5 feet tall and have small, white flowers. In comparison, tomato plants have fuzzy stems and leaves that are not pointed, and the flowers are yellow.
  • Berries: Common nightshade produces black or green berries, while tomato plants have bright red fruit.
  • Toxicity: Common nightshade is toxic and can cause vomiting, headache, and other harmful effects if ingested in large amounts. It’s crucial to wear gloves when removing this weed and to keep it away from children and pets.

2. Hairy Nightshade (Solanum Physalifolium)

Hairy nightshade plants are part of the solanaceae family, which also includes tomato plants. Although these plants may look similar to tomato plants during their early growth stages, they are considered an invasive weed.

Here are some key points to keep in mind when identifying hairy nightshade:

  • Identification: Hairy nightshade is a short-lived perennial that grows up to 4 feet tall. Its leaves are similar to tomato leaves but are covered in tiny hairs. It produces small, white to pale violet flowers and round, green berries that turn yellow when ripe.
  • Toxicity: Hairy nightshade contains solanine, a toxic alkaloid that can cause gastrointestinal issues and other health problems for both animals and humans. It is important to avoid consuming any part of the plant, including the leaves, flowers, and berries.
  • Habitat: Hairy nightshade prefers disturbed areas such as roadsides, fields, and gardens. It is often found growing near tomato plants, making it crucial to identify correctly to prevent unwanted ingestion.

3. Bittersweet Nightshade (Solanum Dulcamara)

Bittersweet nightshade, or solanum Dulcamara, is a herbaceous vine with woody stems that can climb up to 10 feet long.

It is commonly mistaken for tomato plants due to their similar appearance. Bittersweet nightshade is typically found in wetlands, ditches, and forests.

Some key points to note about bittersweet nightshade are:

  • Leaves: The leaves are dark green and have a distinct elongated shape. They are not as smooth as tomato leaves and have a rough texture.
  • Flowers: The bittersweet nightshade’s flowers are star-shaped and usually have a purple center and five white or pink petals.
  • Berries: This plant has small, red berry-like fruit that looks similar to cherry tomatoes. The fruit grows in clusters and has a sweet, though poisonous taste.

Identifying Characteristics

It is essential to identify the distinguishing characteristics between bittersweet nightshade and tomato plants. Here are some key points to help tell them apart:

  • Leaves: Tomato plants have smoother leaves with a softer texture than those of bittersweet nightshade’s leaves. Also, tomato leaves are entirely green, while bittersweet nightshade leaves have a purple hue at the base.
  • Flowers: Unlike the purple center of bittersweet nightshade flowers, tomato flowers are entirely yellow.
  • Fruit: Cherry tomatoes are typically smaller and less oval-shaped compared to the berries of bittersweet nightshade. Also, tomato fruit has a sweet and delicious taste, while bittersweet nightshade is poisonous.

It is crucial to note that bittersweet nightshade is highly toxic and should not be consumed. Eating even a few of its berries can lead to symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, confusion, and even death.

Knowing the differences between tomato plants and weeds like bittersweet nightshade can help you avoid mistakenly consuming a toxic plant.

4. Black Nightshade (Solanum Americanum)

Black nightshade, or solanum Americanum, is a common weed that resembles tomato plants. It is from the same Solanaceae family, which includes potato, eggplant, and pepper.

Black nightshade can be harmful to both humans and animals, but you can easily identify and remove it.

Here are the key points to keep in mind:

  • Appearance: The plant has small white flowers and dark green leaves that have a pointed tip. The fruit is small, green at first, and black when ripe, containing numerous small round black seeds.
  • Habitat: Black nightshade can grow in a variety of environments. It is often found in gardens, fields, and along roadsides.
  • Toxicity: Beware! The plant can be poisonous to both humans and animals, and every part of the plant is toxic. Children are particularly vulnerable, as they are more likely to ingest the berries.
  • Removing black nightshade: If you find black nightshade growing in your garden, make sure to remove it immediately. Wear gloves and remove the entire plant, including the roots. Dispose of it carefully in the garbage.

5. Ground Cherry (Physalis Spp.)

Ground cherry, also known as husk cherry or gooseberry tomato, is a type of small fruit native to the americas and closely resembling miniature tomatoes. Although they are not a weed, their resemblance to tomato plants can be confusing to gardeners.

Here are some key points to consider:

  • Ground cherry plants have a sprawling growth habit and can grow up to 2 feet tall and wide.
  • The leaves of the ground cherry are soft and fuzzy with a pointed tip and pronounced veins.
  • Ground cherry produces paper-like husks which enclose the fruit. When the fruit is ripe, it falls off from the plant and the husks turn brown.
  • The fruit of a ground cherry is the size of a grape, yellow-orange, and has a sweet and tart flavor that is similar to that of a pineapple or strawberry.
  • Ground cherry is a common garden plant that is relatively easy to grow from seeds in warm climates

If you want to grow ground cherry plants in your garden, they can be a fun and tasty addition. Be sure to take good care of them, as they are prone to certain pests and diseases, just like tomato plants.

However, if you are looking for ways to distinguish ground cherry from tomato plants, focus on their fruit and leaves.

6. Jimsonweed (Datura Stramonium)

Jimsonweed, also known as Datura stramonium, is a highly toxic plant that resembles tomato plants. It contains dangerous chemicals, including atropine, which can lead to serious health conditions, including death.

Here are the key points to know about jimsonweed:

  • Appearance: Jimsonweed is a large, coarse plant that can reach up to 5 feet in height. It has oblong leaves with toothed edges and produces trumpet-shaped white or lavender flowers that bloom in the summer and fall.
  • Toxicity: All parts of the plant, including the seeds, leaves, and flowers, are highly poisonous. A single leaf or seedpod may contain enough toxins to cause hallucinations, seizures, and even death.
  • Health risks: If ingested, jimsonweed can cause dry mouth, fever, confusion, hallucinations, dilated pupils, rapid heartbeat, and other medical issues. In severe cases, it can lead to coma or respiratory failure.
  • Control: Jimsonweed is difficult to control once it becomes established. The best course of action is to prevent it from growing by removing any plants that resemble it in your garden.
  • Prevention: To prevent jimsonweed from sprouting, make sure to remove any potential weeds before they have a chance to grow. Apply mulch to the soil around your plants to prevent new weed growth.

7. Horse Nettle (Solanum Carolinense)

Horse nettle is a common weed that thrives in hot and dry climates. The plant resembles tomato plants in many ways but can be easily distinguished from them if you know what to look for.

Here are some key points to help you recognize horse nettle:

  • Leaves: Horse nettle leaves look similar to those of potato plants. They are dark green, slightly hairy and somewhat lobed.
  • Flowers: Horse nettle flowers are white or pale violet in color and have yellow stamens in the center. They are star-shaped and have five petals, with a diameter of about 1 inch.
  • Fruits: The fruits of horse nettle are yellowish-green berries that are about the size of a grape. They have a slightly bitter taste and are poisonous if ingested.
  • Stem: The stem of horse nettle is covered with thorns that can cause skin irritation. The plant can grow up to 3 feet tall.

If you encounter horse nettle in your garden or farm, here are some tips to get rid of it:

  • Wear protective clothing, such as gloves and long sleeves, to avoid getting pricked by the thorns.
  • Remove the entire plant, including the roots, as they can regenerate if left in the ground.
  • Till the soil to expose any remaining roots and dispose of them properly.
  • Use herbicides that are specifically formulated for horse nettle.

Remember that horse nettle can be toxic to both humans and animals, so handle it with care.

Knowing how to identify and control horse nettle can help you protect your plants and improve your garden’s overall health.

8. Carolina Nightshade (Solanum Carolinense)

Carolina nightshade is an herbaceous plant that looks like a tomato plant. It is commonly found across most of the eastern parts of north America.

Here are some key points to help you identify Carolina nightshade:


  • Carolina nightshade is a herbaceous plant that grows up to 6 feet tall.
  • It has a woody stem and long, dark green leaves.
  • The flowers are white or light purple with a yellow center.
  • The fruit resembles small green tomatoes that turn yellow as they mature.


  • Carolina nightshade is a poisonous plant.
  • All parts of the plant, including the fruit, contain solanine, which can cause severe gastrointestinal issues.
  • It can cause headaches, vomiting, and a slow heartbeat if ingested.


  • If you notice Carolina nightshade in your garden, remove the entire plant, including roots, and dispose of it in a closed bag.
  • Be careful when removing the plant as the sap can cause skin irritation.
  • Avoid composting the plant as the toxic compounds can still be present in the soil for years.

Similar Plants:

  • Carolina nightshade is often confused with and misidentified as actual tomato plants.
  • Other plants that look similar to carolina nightshade include black nightshade, bittersweet nightshade, and horse nettle.

If you’re unsure about the identification of any plant in your garden, consult a local plant expert or extension office. Remember, it’s better to err on the side of caution than to risk consuming or handling a toxic plant.

9. Eastern Black Nightshade (Solanum Ptycanthum)

The nightshade family includes Eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptycanthum), a common weed found in gardens and near tomato farms.

It spreads vertically, reaching a maximum height of three feet and has purple flowers. The leaves and stems of this weed resemble that of tomato plants, making it confusing and challenging to differentiate between the two.

Here are some key points to help you identify eastern black nightshade:

  • Leaves: This weed has oval-shaped leaves that are dark green, have pointed tips, and resemble the leaves of the tomato plant, possibly with slight toothed edges.
  • Flowers: The eastern black nightshade has star-shaped flowers that are purple in color. The flowers grow in clusters and may have white or yellow centers, which are different from tomato plants’ yellow flowers.
  • Berries: The eastern black nightshade has shiny black berries that resemble that of a grape’s size. These fruits are toxic and can be harmful if consumed. However, tomatoes have red or yellow-colored berries.
  • Stems: The stems of the eastern black nightshade exhibit a light green color and possess tiny hairs, distinguishing them from tomato plant stems.
  • Smell: Tomato plants have a distinct aromatic smell that is absent in the eastern black nightshade.

If you are unsure about the plant, it’s best to remove it. Eastern black nightshade can be harmful to children and pets if consumed. It’s essential to identify and get rid of the weed before it spreads.

Now that you know about eastern black nightshade, identifying it should be easy. Remember, the best way to stay safe is to remove any weed that you are unsure of and keep your garden clean.

10. Buffalo Bur (Solanum Rostratum)

Buffalo bur is an annual weed that is of the same genus as tomato plants, which is solanum. Buffalo bur is characterized by its yellow, star-shaped flowers, which bloom from June to October.

Here are some bullet points that describe buffalo bur in detail:

  • Buffalo bur has an erect stem that can grow up to 2 feet tall
  • The flowers of this weed have five pointed petals that are yellow and have black centers
  • The plant produces spiny fruits that form a bur-like structure that can stick to anything that comes in contact with it.
  • The leaves of this plant are also spiny and have a distinctive wavy or toothed shape, with uneven divots running along the edges

Buffalo bur frequently grows in roadside ditches, waste areas, and fields. It can also thrive in gardens, where it may be mistaken for tomato plants.

Due to its invasive nature, it’s best to remove it from your garden or property.

Differences Between Buffalo Bur And Tomato Plants

It’s easy to mistake buffalo bur for tomato plants, especially during their initial growth stages. However, there are some key differences between buffalo bur and tomato plants, such as:

  • Buffalo bur has spines on its fruit while tomato plants have smooth fruit
  • Tomato plants produce round fruit while buffalo bur produces burr-like structures
  • Buffalo bur has a distinct wavy and toothed shape to its leaves while tomato plants typically have smooth leaves

Observing these key differences can help you differentiate between buffalo bur and tomato plants, and eliminate the possibility of confusing them.

How To Get Rid Of Buffalo Bur

If you have buffalo bur growing in your garden or lawn, there are effective ways to get rid of it:

  • Hand-pulling is the most effective method for small areas. Make sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from its spiny thorns
  • Use a hoe or sharp tool to cut or uproot the plant
  • Use a pre-emergent herbicide to prevent buffalo bur seeds from germinating
  • If the infestation is severe, a post-emergent herbicide can be applied to kill the plant

It’s important to remove buffalo bur as soon as possible to prevent it from spreading and damaging your crops or garden.

Tips For Weed Identification

Have you ever planted tomato plants in your garden, only to find out that some of the tall, lanky plants growing next to them are not tomatoes?

In fact, they are weeds! It can be difficult to distinguish weeds from tomato plants, especially in the early stages of growth.

Below are some essential tips for identifying common weeds that look like tomato plants, so you can get rid of them.

1. Pay Attention To Leaf Structure

Plants in the nightshade family, such as tomato plants and weeds that resemble them, often have leaves that are similar in structure.

However, weed leaves tend to be thinner and less robust than those of tomato plants. When identifying a weed that looks like a tomato plant, examine the leaf’s size, shape, and texture.

If the leaves are more delicate or flimsier than those of a tomato plant, it’s likely a weed.

2. Observe The Flowers

Although the flowers of tomato plants and weeds can look similar, certain characteristics can help you differentiate between the two.

Tomato plants create clusters of yellow flowers, while some impostor weeds produce dull-colored flowers.

Closely observe the flowers, and if you notice any inconsistencies in color, shape, or size, you should remove the plant as it is likely a weed.

3. Keep An Eye On The Stem

The stem is another important aspect of plant identification. Tomato plants have sturdy, thick stems, while weed stems are typically weaker and flimsy.

Weed stalks also there are little hairs or fuzz on the stem, unlike the tomato plants. If the stalk’s strength and thickness do not match that of a tomato plant, it is likely a weed.

4. Notice The Growth Pattern

Observing how a plant grows and behaves can also help you determine if it’s a tomato plant or a weed.

Tomato plants grow towards the sun, while weeds tend to grow upward and outward in an uncontrolled manner. If you notice the plant growing erratically, it’s most likely a weed.

5. Smell And Taste

While not every gardener may want to try it, sometimes a plant’s scent or flavor can give you a clue about its identity.

Tomato leaves have a distinctive aroma, while many weeds do not have a scent at all. If you’re brave enough to taste the plant, confirm it by the plant’s flavor and bitterness.

Regardless of what methods you use, be diligent and thorough when identifying weeds. Your tomato plants will thank you in the end!

Frequently Asked Questions

What Weeds Are Commonly Mistaken For Tomato Plants?

Some common weeds that look like tomato plants include nightshade, Horsenettle, and black nightshade.

These weeds can grow very tall and have similar leaf structures and fruit shapes, making them easily confused with tomato plants.

How Can I Identify The Differences Between Tomato Plants And Weeds That Look Like It?

Tomato plants have leaves that are bright green and smooth, while some weed lookalikes have hairy leaves or sharp thorns.

Tomato plants also have distinct flowers and fruits, which can be easily identified. Paying attention to the growth pattern and the time of year the plant is growing can also provide clues.

Are The Weeds That Look Like Tomato Plants Harmful To My Garden?

Yes, some weeds that look like tomato plants can be harmful to your garden.

For example, nightshade can produce toxic fruits that can be harmful if ingested, and Horsenettle can harm other plants by secreting a chemical that prevents their growth.

It’s important to identify and remove these weeds from your garden as soon as possible.

How Can I Prevent Weed Lookalikes From Growing In My Garden?

The best way to prevent weed lookalikes from growing in your garden is by maintaining a clean environment.

Regularly remove weeds before they have a chance to grow and spread. Use organic mulch to cover soil and prevent weed seeds from germinating.

Using a pre-emergent weed control product can also help in preventing weed growth.

What Should I Do If I Accidentally Eat A Weed That Looks Like A Tomato Plant?


If you accidentally ingest a weed that looks like a tomato plant, it’s important to seek medical attention immediately.

Some of these weeds can produce toxic fruits that can be harmful if ingested. Bring a sample of the plant to help your doctor identify the plant and provide proper treatment.

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