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Useful Tropical Plants

Solanum macrocarpon

L.

Solanaceae


It is widely accepted that Solanum macrocarpon is the cultivated form of the wild Solanum dasyphyllum. Opinions on whether to maintain them as distinct species differ, any distinctions between them are largely artificial, but they are maintained as distinct here for practical purposes.

+ Synonyms

Solanum atropo Schumach. & Thonn.

Solanum crassifolium Salisb.

Solanum dimorphum Matsum.

Solanum mors-elephantum Dammann

Solanum thonningianum J.Jacq.

Solanum zanonii Gouan

Common Name: African Eggplant

Solanum macrocarpon
Ripening fruit
Photograph by: Vinayaraj
Creative Commons License
Solanum macrocarpon Solanum macrocarpon Solanum macrocarpon Solanum macrocarpon Solanum macrocarpon Solanum macrocarpon

General Information

African eggplant is an erect, herbaceous, perennial plant growing around 30 - 150cm tall. The branches can become more or less woody, especially at the base; they are unarmed, or with occasional prickles[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
,
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
].
A popular vegetable in west Africa, where the leaves are a regular part of the diet. The plant also supplies an edible fruit and has a range of local medicinal uses. The plant is sometimes cultivated in the tropics, especially western Africa and southeast Asia, for its edible fruit and leaves, which are sold in local markets[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
]. It is sometimes grown as an ornamental[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Known Hazards

Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most plants in the family Solanaceae also contain poisonous alkaloids. Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
,
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.

Range

Tropical western Africa - Sierra Leone to Nigeria.

Habitat

Evergreen forest edges, floodplains, riverbanks, cultivated ground, in ± dry or sometimes moist situations at elevations up to 1,765 metres[
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitPerennial
Height1.50 m
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the moist tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,765 metres, though it is generally only cultivated below 600 metres[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. At higher elevations the plant tends to be more sturdy and growth is slower[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 26°c, but can tolerate 10 - 32°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 700 - 1,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 4,000mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a sunny position[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Plants are tolerant of a wide range of soil conditions, but grow best in fertile, humus-rich conditions[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7.5, tolerating 4.3 - 8.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Plants are relatively drought tolerant once established[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].
When grown for its leaves, the plant is trimmed when about 20cm tall in order to promote the production of new shoots. This trimming also results in abundant fruit production[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Selective harvesting of the leaves can commence 40 - 50 days after the plant germinates, about a week after the first flowers appear. Harvesting continues at two weekly intervals and, depending on the availability of water, continues for up to a year[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Leaves can be harvested for several seasons from regrowths, but a new crop each year gives the best yield[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The fruit starts to ripen after about 3 - 4 months[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
An average leaf yield of 2.9 kilos per square metre, with a crop spacing of 50cm × 50cm, has been recorded in Nigeria[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The cultivar ‘Newubaar’ has given 1.5 kilos of fruits per plant in 4 months. Regular leaf harvesting decreases the fruit yield[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Several named varieties exist in Africa, mainly developed for their edible leaves, but some for their fruits[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Edible Uses

Fruit - raw or cooked. A soft edible flesh[
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
]. The fruit can be eaten raw, though it is more commonly picked before it is fully ripe and cooked as a vegetable or used in soups and sauces[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
,
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. A more or less bitter flavour[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The yellow or orange fruit is a globose berry, up to 6cm long and 8cm wide[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
,
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
].

Leaves - cooked and used as a vegetable[
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
]. A somewhat bitter flavour that is much liked in Africa[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The leaves are boiled or steamed and used as a side dish with rice[
301
Title
Cornucopia II
Publication
 
Author
Facciola. S.
Publisher
Kampong Publications, California.
Year
1998
ISBN
0-9628087-2-5
Description
The second edition of an excellent guide to the edible uses of plants, though it does not give any details of cultivation etc.
]. They can be added to soups and sauces[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Flowers[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Medicinal

The leaves are chewed as a treatment for throat troubles[
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
]. The crushed leaves are taken to treat stomach troubles[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A decoction of the leaves and roots is used to treat abscesses and ear infections[
617
Title
Traditional Vegetables in Benin
Publication
 
Author
Achigan-Dako E. Et al
Publisher
Darwin Initiative; International Foundation for Science
Year
2009
ISBN
 
Description
Issued as a PDF on the Internet, it contains basic information on over 250 species of plants used for food in Benin.
].

The juice of boiled roots is drunk to get rid of hookworms[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The fruits are taken as a laxative, and to treat cardiac diseases[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The plant (parts not specified) is used to treat digestive problems and anaemia[
617
Title
Traditional Vegetables in Benin
Publication
 
Author
Achigan-Dako E. Et al
Publisher
Darwin Initiative; International Foundation for Science
Year
2009
ISBN
 
Description
Issued as a PDF on the Internet, it contains basic information on over 250 species of plants used for food in Benin.
].

Other Uses

The leaves are chewed to clean the teeth[
435
Title
Solanaceae Source
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://solanaceaesource.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Incredible detail on all the species in Solanum (now also including the Tomatoes which were formerly in Lycopersicon). The site will eventually include all other Genera within the Solanaceae.
]. The flowers and fruits are used[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Propagation

Seed - sow in a seedbed or in containers. Presoaking the seeds in hydrogen peroxide for 24 hours generally improves germination[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. Plant out into their permanent positions when about 6 - 8cm tall[
300
Title
Vegetables in the Tropics
Publication
 
Author
Tindall. H. D.
Publisher
MacMillan, Oxford.
Year
1983
ISBN
0-333-24268-8
Description
An excellent, in-depth look at the main vegetable crops that can be grown in the Tropics, plus many less well-known plants.
].

Comments

Kathrin Stenchlt 10th December 2015 13:17
Pollination: mainly self-pollinated, if out-crossed than through flower visiting insects (e.g. bees)

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