Punk Rock Solanum atop Buena Vista Park
Sitting at the highest point of Buena Vista Park is one of my favorite plants in San Francisco.
I love him because he’s a weed. A poisonous, spiky, punk rock weed. Solanum marginatum is native to Ethiopia and in the nightshade family, like tomatoes. Think of them as the tomato’s badass distant cousin.
He first appeared a couple years ago, probably from a seed in a blob of bird poop, the descendant of another plant far from home. Buena Vista is a dog park, but even as a seedling, he was tough. His prickles kept the dogs at bay. They could smell that he was bad news.
The gardeners let the young plant live because he formed a barrier on the hillside, preventing dogs from trampling the smaller plants on their way down the hill, chasing balls. So, in a way, this brute is the protector of the plants below.
What started as a little weed is now the size of a minivan, covered in green-yellow fruit, and menacing as hell. You’ve gotta respect that.
I don’t know how long he’ll be there, but if you go to the top of Buena Vista Park now, you can’t miss him. Go say hi. Just don’t get too close. He could totally kick your ass.