Winter cherry

Alternative names 
Christmas cherry; Ornamental pepper; Tom thumb; Jerusalem cherry

Poisoning caused by consumption of plant material from the Jerusalem cherry.

Poisonous Ingredient

  • solanocapsine

Where Found

  • Jerusalem cherry  
  • The toxin is found throughout the plant but especially in the unripened fruit and leaves.

Note: This list may not be all inclusive.


  • body as a whole       o headache       o drowsiness  
  • respiratory       o slowed breathing  
  • eyes, ears, nose, and throat       o dilated pupils  
  • heart and blood vessels       o slow pulse       o low blood pressure  
  • gastrointestinal       o abdominal pain       o vomiting       o diarrhea  
  • nervous system       o psychosis

Home Treatment
Call the Poison Control center for guidance. Do not induce vomiting unless instructed.

Before Calling Emergency
Determine the following information:

  • the patient’s age, weight, and condition  
  • the name of the plant and parts eaten  
  • the time it was swallowed  
  • the amount swallowed

Poison Control, or a local emergency number
They will instruct you if it is necessary to take the person to the hospital. See Poison Control centers for telephone numbers and addresses. Bring the plant with you to the emergency room.

What to expect at the emergency room
Some or all of the following procedures may be performed:

  • Induce vomiting.  
  • Use gastric lavage.  
  • Activated charcoal.  
  • Treat the symptoms.

Expectations (prognosis)
Death has been reported but is rare.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 8, 2012
by Armen E. Martirosyan, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.