Its attractive red berries, succulent leaves and brightly colored flowers might look like a tasty snack for a hungry herbivore.
But while the berries of the bittersweet nightshade already hold enough poison to put off even the most enthusiastic of grazers, it seems the plant also has another trick to defend itself – ant bodyguards.
The bittersweet nightshade, also called Solanum dulcamara, produces a sugary nectar directly from wounds inflicted on its leaves by animals chewing on them in a bid to attract ants.
A poisonous woodland plant called bittersweet nightshade has been found to ‘bled’ a sugary nectar from wounds when slugs and insect larvae eat its leaves. These secretions attract three different species of ant (red ants pictured) which attack the herbivores and protect the plant from suffering further damage