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Solanum Plant Family: Information About Solanum Genus

Solanum Plant Family: Information About Solanum Genus


By: Amy Grant

The Solanum family of plants is a large genus under the family umbrella of Solanaceae that includes up to 2,000 species, ranging from food crops, such as the potato and the tomato, to various ornamentals and medicinal species. The following entails interesting information about the Solanum genus and types of Solanum plants.

Information about Solanum Genus

The Solanum plant family is a diverse group containing both annuals to perennials with everything from vine, subshrub, shrub and even small tree habits.

The first mention of its generic name comes from Pliny the Elder at the mention of a plant known as ‘strychnos,’ probably Solanum nigrum. The root word for ‘strychnos’ may have come from the Latin word for sun (sol) or possibly from ‘solare’ (meaning “to soothe”) or ‘solamen’ (meaning “comfort”). The latter definition refers to the soothing effect of the plant upon ingestion.

In either case, the genus was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. Subdivisions have long been disputed with the most recent inclusion of the genera Lycopersicon (tomato) and Cyphomandra into the Solanum plant family as subgenera.

Solanum Family of Plants

Nightshade (Solanum dulcamara), also called bittersweet or woody nightshade as well as S. nigrum, or black nightshade, are members of this genus. Both contain solanine, a toxic alkaloid that, when ingested in large doses, can cause convulsions and even death. Interestingly, the deadly belladonna nightshade (Atropa belladonna) is not in the Solanum genus but is a member of the Solanaceae family.

Other plants within the Solanum genus also contain solanine but are regularly consumed by humans. Potatoes are a prime example. The solanine is most concentrated in the foliage and the green tubers; once the potato is mature, solanine levels are low and safe to consume as long as it is cooked.

Tomato and eggplant are also important food crops that have been cultivated for centuries. They, too, contain toxic alkaloids, but are safe for consumption once they are fully ripe. In fact, many of the food crops of this genus contain this alkaloid. These include:

  • Ethiopian eggplants
  • Gilo
  • Naranjilla or lulo
  • Turkey berry
  • Pepino
  • Tamarillo
  • “Bush tomato” (found in Australia)

Solanum Plant Family Ornamentals

There are a plethora of ornamentals included in this genus. Some of the most familiar are:

  • Kangaroo apple (S. aviculare)
  • False Jerusalem cherry (S. capsicastrum)
  • Chilean potato tree (S. crispum)
  • Potato vine (S. laxum)
  • Christmas cherry (S. pseudocapsicum)
  • Blue potato bush (S. rantonetii)
  • Italian jasmine or St. Vincent lilac (S. seaforthianum)
  • Paradise flower (S. wendlanandii)

There are also a number of Solanum plants used primarily in the past by native people or in folk medicine. Giant devil’s fig is being studied for treatment of seborrhoeic dermatitis, and in the future, who knows what medical uses may be found for Solanum plants. For the most part though, Solanum medical information primarily concerns poisonings which, while rare, can be fatal.

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Solanum Species, Easter Egg Plant, Ornamental Eggplant

Category:

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs Water regularly do not overwater

Sun Exposure:

Foliage:

Foliage Color:

Height:

Spacing:

Hardiness:

Where to Grow:

Danger:

Bloom Color:

Bloom Characteristics:

Bloom Size:

Bloom Time:

Other details:

Soil pH requirements:

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:

From seed sow indoors before last frost

Seed Collecting:

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen clean and dry seeds

Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed clean and dry seeds

Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

Regional

This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Greenville, South Carolina

Cabin Creek, West Virginia

Gardeners' Notes:

On Nov 11, 2013, jrewilmer from Wilmer, TX wrote:

Located in Wilmer, Tx (Dallas) our summer's here can brutal. The egg plant has held up exceptionally well. Kept it well watered during 100 degree temp and it did just fine. It's the middle of November loaded with 13 yellow eggs, 6 white and full of purple blooms. Expecting first frost tonight so I brought it inside to the enclosed patio to see how long I can baby it. With a little luck, can can keep it blooming through most of winter. I'll update as time goes on!

On Aug 19, 2012, kooger from Oostburg, WI (Zone 5b) wrote:

I grew a number of plants from seed received from Badseed six to seven years ago. Seed germinated well even though it had not been stored well. (months in an unheated garage, months in a hot attic, months in a damp basement)
The plant is now about three feet tall and has over 2 dozen eggs. It's fun to grow! It is planted on the west side of my house so has sun from early afternoon till night.

On Oct 5, 2010, smurfwv from Cabin Creek, WV (Zone 6a) wrote:

Nice little veggie, this was my first year growing it. Looks like eggs glued to a tree, spider mites and aphids do like this one so pest control is a must. Several folks have said its not edible, however you can eat them, fried, or mixed in with your favorite stir fry mix. Not much of a taste though, but they are supposed to be good for you.

I'm guessing in Canada your summers may not be warm enough, or long enough to grow this one.

On Nov 30, 2006, SplitSeed from welland,
Canada wrote:

it says there that it grows in the states well I have one here in canada whats with that. if there is any one who is looking for one please contact me [email protected]

On Oct 20, 2005, Evert from Helsinki,
Finland (Zone 4b) wrote:

A cool plant and I am still waiting for the cute white fruits..

Mine started blooming with light purple flowers after I re-potted it and took it in when weather outside started to get colder, but then I noticed it's full of spider mites! >:( I took it to the bathroom, gave it a few good showers with warm and cold water, then took washed it with soap and rinsed well. The sauna was warm - lucky me living in Finland - so I took it there with me :D I let it be there in 90°C while enjoying the warmth myself, went outside and came back, the plant had been there for about 10 minutes now. There was a slight smell of clorophyll in the air, so I took the plant back to shower and showered it well. I cut away all the leaves and most of the stem, then let it be in the bathroom for a few. read more days. After that I noticed new growth on it, and took it back under the growing lamps in the living room. No sign of spider mites anymore! :) "Sauna-treatment" was succesful D

Follow up for last seasons growth. my plant ended up growing to 4 1/2 feet and was continuing to put on flowers and eggs up until we had a frost in December. Even then only the outside bigger leaves were hurt and the smaller inner leaves continued to grow. There were however a very strange "attachment" to the plant. I guess they could be described as scales but they had a 5 sided shape with a whitish/gray/brown outside and in the center of each section was a dark dot of color. When I picked them off the stems, there seemed to be no damage to the plant and the inside of these scales was a green liquid. These scales were not on any other plant in the garden and were in abudance all over the main stem of the easter egg plant. It was easy to knock them off the plant, but I wondered abo. read more ut what was causing this. I have not seen any other comments from other growers regarding this matter.

We had no problem collecting the seeds and already have baby plants growing in peat pots for this spring planting. I am looking forward to adding them to our garden again this year.

This year I intend to leave the plant as a whole as when I pulled up the stubs and roots of the plants from last year, the roots seemed to be healthy. However am not sure they would have even produced another plant. Has anyone had them come back?
Elaine

On Jul 17, 2004, Beaman from Round Rock, TX wrote:

I received baby plants via family from a northern state friend and was curious if it would grow here in Texas. Our summers get very hot and the sun can scorch, but this Eastern Egg Plant has done very well here in central Texas. Happy planting.

Elaine On Mar 8, 2005, Beamanfamily from Round Rock, TX wrote:

Follow up for last seasons growth. my plant ended up growing to 4 1/2 feet and was continuing to put on flowers and eggs up until we had a frost in December. Even then only the outside bigger leaves were hurt and the smaller inner leaves continued to grow. There were however a very strange "attachment" to the plant. I guess they could be described as scales but they had a 5 sided shape with a whitish/gray/brown outside and in the center o. read more f each section was a dark dot of color. When I picked them off the stems, there seemed to be no damage to the plant and the inside of these scales was a green liquid. These scales were not on any other plant in the garden and were in abudance all over the main stem of the easter egg plant. It was easy to knock them off the plant, but I wondered about what was causing this. I have not seen any other comments from other growers regarding this matter.

We had no problem collecting the seeds and already have baby plants growing in peat pots for this spring planting. I am looking forward to adding them to our garden again this year.

This year I intend to leave the plant as a whole as when I pulled up the stubs and roots of the plants from last year, the roots seemed to be healthy.

On Sep 16, 2003, dragonfly29605 from Greenville, SC wrote:

I live in the northern part of South Carolina.

My mother gave me one of her plants that she bought at a WalMart it came with a recipe book, but she threw it away. She does remember that was suppose to be used like eggplant in recipes. My plant is about 3 1/2 feet tall with 9 "eggs" on it. I place Miracle Gro fertilizer sticks in the soil once a month. It receives about 2 hours of morning sun then the rest of the day its in shade. Beautiful plant.

On Jan 28, 2003, btailoring from Stockport, OH (Zone 6b) wrote:

I've been raising these for 4-5 years just as a conversation piece, and it sure works. I plant mine in light shade and they grow fine with plenty of water and plant food about every other week. All the walkers in the neighborhood take a second look when they have eggs hanging on them!lol

I'm very happy with the outcome of this plant. I started them in pots and moved them from full sun to semi-shade for a month and they grew just fine. Feeding them with plant food once a week seems to produce more blooms.

On Sep 11, 2002, ArianesGrandma from Yorkville, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

I think this is a GREAT Plant to have in a Garden or a POT as a Specimen Plant. it's stands ALONE Quit well

. it's just something different to LOOK at and talk about! . and I grow them strictly for looks. (I'd heard they are "Inedible" but I can't verify that.)


You throw seeds in, sit back and watch them grow. no effort at all! What could be easier??


Growing conditions for white eggplant is very similar to that for the more common purple kinds. May be started from seed and are well adapted to container culture. Problems such as spider mites and wilts also affect white eggplant. Eggplants should be grown during the warm seasons.

On Sep 11, 2002, Terry from Murfreesboro, TN (Zone 7a) wrote:

A fact sheet published by the University of Florida's Cooperative Extension Service explains the differences between S. ovigerum (grown as an inedible ornamental plant) and white fruit varieties of S. melongena, which are edible:

Fruit color:
S. ovigerum fruit is white when immature but turn yellow as they mature.

S. melongena fruit remains white at maturity, some with a hint of green.

Fruit size:
S. ovigerum fruit typically remains small, resembling their namesake hen's eggs in size and shape.

S. melongena white varieties grow to typical eggplant size at maturity, significantly larger than the ornamental fruit.

On Oct 11, 2001, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:

Ornamental white eggplant is a rather low-growing, branching plant. Stem and leafstalks are green, or very faintly tinged with purple, and bear a few white spines. Leaves are wavy at the edges. Flowers are lilac. The fruit are very white when immature, but turn yellow when ripe. In shape and size, they greatly resemble an ordinary hen's egg. Larger fruiting and dwarf plant forms have been reported.

Growing conditions for white eggplant is very similar to that for the more common purple kinds. May be started from seed and are well adapted to container culture. Problems such as spider mites and wilts also affect white eggplant. Eggplants should be grown during the warm seasons.

On Aug 29, 2001, Badseed from Hillsboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

I am finding a lack of information on this plant. I will keep searching. I can add that the eggs are inedible. The plant is a member of the night shade family.


List of Solanum species

This is a list of species in the plant genus Solanum. There may be up to approximately 1500 species worldwide. [1] With some 800 accepted specific and infra-specific taxa of the more than 4,000 described, the genus Solanum contains more species than any other genus in the family Solanaceae and it is one of the largest among the angiosperms.

Phylogenetic analysis of molecular data has established or confirmed that the genera Lycopersicon, Cyphomandra, Normania, and Triguera, which were previously classified independently, should in reality be included within the Solanum. In fact, all the species from these four genera have been formally transferred to Solanum. On the other hand, the genus Lycianthes, which is sometimes included within the Solanum, has been shown to be a separate genus. [2] [3] [4] [5]

The following alphabetical list of Solanum species provides the binomial name followed by the name of the species authority, abbreviated according to the appropriate conventions and uses.

The tuberous species within the genus (those related to Solanum tuberosum, the potato, and therefore often called wild potatoes) have been indicated with the letter T. The nothospecies belonging to the genus appear at the end of the list, that is those taxa that have originated from a hybrid between two different species (for example, Solanum × viirsooi, which has been shown to be an interspecific hybrid resulting from the cross between S. acaule and S. infundibuliforme.) [6]


Solanum Habrochaites by Gary Cass

Gary Cass

Taxonomy

Solanum habrochaites is a “wild tomato,” one of about 13 species in the Solanum lycopersicum genus, or tomato “family.” The other, older name for this species is Lycopersicon hirsutum.

Description

There are two types (subspecies) of Solanum habrochaites:

  • Solanum habrochaites
  • Solanum habrochaites f. glabratum

This species is native to Peru and southern parts of Ecuador it has small, green, hairy fruit.
S. habrochaites is often found in higher-elevation river valleys (between 1,800 and 3,300 meters) from southern Ecuador to central Peru. It is a strong outbreeder with a very long exerted stigma. Most are self-incompatible and need siblings nearby for pollination. Self-pollination occasionally occurs but produces weak plants that show inbreeding depression. This subspecies does not readily cross with L. esculentum.

The other subspecies, S. habrochaites f. glabratum, is self-compatible, and its progeny does not suffer from inbreeding depression. It is found in the southwestern parts of Ecuador at lower latitudes (0–6° south). This subspecies is capable of crossing with L. esculentum.

S. habrochaites has been noted for it’s several resistances to pests. One trait is that of resistance to two species of red spider mite. This is a physical rather than biochemical mechanism. The plant’s glandular hairs (trichomes) secrete a sticky substance in which mites become ensnared. S. habrochaites also contains a high concentration of a naturally occurring pesticide called 2-tridecacone. This provides a high degree of protection against pin worm, leaf miners, aphids, and caterpillars. The older the plant, the stronger this resistance becomes.

S. habrochaites has been noted as a source of resistance to pathogens such as early blight, bacterial speck, and root-knot nematodes. This species is also being investigated as a source of cold tolerance and is used in breeding rootstock.
The flavor of S. habrochaites is often very good, with distinct fruity notes.


Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’

Plant does not flower in January

Plant does not flower in February

Plant does not flower in March

Plant does not flower in April

Plant does not flower in May

Plant does not flower in June

Plant does flower in July

Plant does flower in August

Plant does flower in September

Plant does flower in October

Plant does not flower in November

Plant does not flower in December

  • Botanical name:Solanumcrispum 'Glasnevin'
  • Common name: Potato vine
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Plant Type: Climber, Evergreen

The Chilean potato vine, Solanum crispum, is just the thing to give a sunny wall an exotic look. It has wiry stems, which need tying up to wires or trellis for support, clad in small semi-evergreen leaves which remain on the plant in all but bad winters. The potato-like flowers, each with lilac petals around a pointed yellow centre, appear continuously from mid-summer to mid-autumn.

Solanum crispum ‘Glasnevin’ flowers more prolifically, and is hardier than other species. Grow in moist but well-drained soil. To propagate, take cuttings from summer to early autumn. The Royal Horticultural Society has given it its prestigious Award of Garden Merit (AGM).


How to Grow Ornamental Eggplant

Solanum is the botanical name for Ornamental Eggplant
How to Sow Solanum:

  • Sow indoors, 8-10 weeks before last frost, at alternating temperatures of 68 and 86°
  • Seeds will germinate in 10-15 days

How to Grow Solanum:
Transplanting: Transplant when there are at least two sets of true leaves

Spacing: Space 2-3 feet apart in full sun and a slightly acidic to neutral, rich, well-drained soil

Additional Care: Very tolerant of exposure, heat, and humidity, but plants need a long growing season.

Appearance and Use:

Grown primarily for its fruit that is both edible and highly ornamental. The vigorous, bushy plants grow 12-36 inches tall and have 9 inch long, lobed leaves. The 11/2 inch, lavender flowers are not showy, but are followed by a variety of showy fruits. The white- and yellow-fruited types are mostly grown for ornamental purposes, while the purple-fruited types are more tasty for eating


About Solanum:
Pronunciation: so-la’num mel-on-je’nå
Lifecycle: Annual
Origination: Solanaceae native to Africa and Asia
Common Name: Ornamental Eggplant


Solanum Arboreum

Solanum Arboreum - A shrub with handsome flowers, hardy in mild seasons and on sheltered walls near the south coast. The leaves, 8 or 9 inches long, are set with sharp brown spines, and the large flowers in clusters of six to nine together are pale blue or mauve with deep orange anthers.

Solanum Atro-Purpureum

Solanum Atro-Purpureum - An erect plant with purple leaves and stems, 3 to 6 feet high. The deeply-lobed long-spined leaves are threaded with pale veins, and the small purple flowers yield small round berries. Brazil.

Solanum Balbisi

Solanum Balbisi - A shrubby plant hardy against walls in sheltered southern gardens, with slender straggling stems and deeply-cut leaves armed with pale brown spines. The pale mauve flowers are large, succeeded by bright scarlet berries like a small cherry and sweet. Syn., S. sisymbrifolium. This can be treated as a tender annual, or grown from cuttings.

Solanum Betaceum

Solanum Betaceum - A small tree from S. America of distinct appearance, with stout smooth stems and large oval leaves of fleshy texture, veined with purple in the variety purpureum. The flowers are small, followed by orange-red or scarlet fruits like a hens egg for size and shape, hanging in showy clusters and so thickly that a thousand hang on a single mature plant in its own land. This is one of the best, of rapid growth, and easily handled.

Solanum Ciliatum

Solanum Ciliatum - With showy scarlet fruits, round and like a small Tomato, of dry texture, and useful for winter decoration, as they will hang for months among the glossy spined leaves without spoiling. The variety macrocarpum is the best.

Solanum Crinitum

Solanum Crinitum - A stout shrubby plant of 5 or 6 feet, with leaves 2 feet or more long, of velvet texture and tender green tint, threaded with purple veins set with spines. The deep blue flowers are 2 inches across and hang in heavy clusters, followed by fruits an inch or more in diameter. This grows strongly in sheltered southern gardens. Increase by suckers. Guiana.

Potato Tree

Potato Tree (Solanum Crispum) - Reaches 15 or 20 feet as a bush in the open, and exceeds this against a wall. It is one of the hardiest kinds, resisting as far north as the Trent on warm soils, though dying to the ground in a hard winter. The leaves vary in size, being much larger towards the base than at the tips of the shoots, and waved or loosely crisped around the edges. The flowers are a pretty bluish color, fragrant in summer.

Solanum Giganteum

Solanum Giganteum - A tree of 25 feet in its own land, with a trunk as thick as a mans thigh. With us it is 5 or 6 feet high, prickly, and covered in white wool the leaves unarmed, deep green above and whitish beneath the flowers pale blue, not showy the berries red and as large as peas. India.

Jasmine Nightshade

Jasmine Nightshade (Solanum Jasminoides) - A charming summer-leafing climber, and the most beautiful of the family, hardy anywhere in the south of Britain, where its wreaths of starry white flowers are freely borne upon a wall or house-front, even in a north aspect. Grown out of doors and in a strong light, the flowers are more or less shaded with greyish-blue or purple, and there is a charming pale bluish variety in which the color seems fixed. The flowers are pure white if grown in partial shade, or in a north house. The shoots should be well cut in after frost is over in spring. Increase from side-shoots taken with a heel.

Kangaroo Apple

Kangaroo Apple (Solanum Laciniatum) - A stout rapid-growing plant from the antipodes, with dark fleshy stems growing 4 to 6 feet in a season much-divided leaves, dark violet flowers, and fruits the size of a small plum, changing from green to yellow and red. One of the easiest to grow, and nearly hardy on the south coast.

Solanum Lasiostylum

Solanum Lasiostylum - A low shrub of the W. Australian deserts, with white woolly leaves, spiny stems, and purple flowers. The young plants need a warm place and careful watering.

Solanum Marginatum

Solanum Marginatum - A handsome freely-branched species, the stout woody stems coated with white wool and armed with prickles. The leaves are oval, green above with a waved white margin, and white underneath and while young the drooping white flowers are purple at the centre with orange stamens, and give place to yellow fruits like a small Tomato. Abyssinia.

Solanum Platense

Solanum Platense - A true creeper, which instead of rambling over the surrounding vegetation runs over the ground, rooting as it goes and seldom rising more than a foot high. It is found on the banks of the La Plata as a carpet of grey downy leaves, with white bell-shaped flowers on short erect stems, followed by sweet fruits of the same color.

Solanum Robustum

Solanum Robustum - A much-branched shrub of 4 feet, its stems and leaf-ribs set with sharp spines and dense red hairs. The leaves are large, sharply oval, and bluntly lobed, or nearly triangular higher on the stems, green and velvety above, yellow and woolly beneath. The flowers are white with orange stamens, and the rounded brown berries like a small cherry. Brazil.

Solanum Torreyi

Solanum Torreyi - A free-flowering perennial hardy in the south of Britain with root-protection. The violet or white flowers are large and handsome, followed by yellow fruits an inch in diameter. The leaves are waved like an Oak-leaf, 4 to 6 inches long, and covered beneath with mealy down. Texas.

Solanum Wendlandi

Solanum Wendlandi - The noblest of Solanums, and one of the handsomest climbing plants for a cool greenhouse, flowering profusely through a long season, and at its best about August. It has been tried in the open air with some success in warm gardens south of the Thames and in sheltered places along our southern coasts. The fleshy stems climb freely, bearing sparse soft spines. Leaves variable in size and shape, often cut into deep lobes. Flowers in large drooping clusters of a soft lilac-blue color and 2 inches or more across those shown in the engraving form only a small part of the perfect cluster, which often measures a foot across. The leaves fall in winter, when the plant should be kept fairly dry at the root and the shoots well cut back before again starting into growth. Increase by cuttings of tender side-shoots, taken with a heel from plants started early under glass. Costa Rica.


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