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Starr 020323-0062 Solanum seaforthianum.jpg
Brazilian nightshade ( Solanum seaforthianum )
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Subfamily: Solanoideae
Tribe: Solaneae
Genus: Solanum
L. [1]

(but see text)



Cyphomandra Mart. ex Sendtn.
Lycopersicon Mill.
ParmentieraRaf. (non DC.: preoccupied)

Unripe fruit of Solanum lycopersicum (tomato) Solanum Lycopersicum tomkin 1.jpg
Unripe fruit of Solanum lycopersicum (tomato)

Solanum is a large and diverse genus of flowering plants, which include three food crops of high economic importance: the potato, the tomato and the eggplant (aubergine, brinjal). It is the largest genus in the nightshade family Solanaceae, comprising around 1,500 species. It also contains the so-called horse nettles (unrelated to the genus of true nettles, Urtica ), as well as numerous plants cultivated for their ornamental flowers and fruit.

Solanum species show a wide range of growth habits, such as annuals and perennials, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon (the tomatoes) and Cyphomandra are now included in Solanum as subgenera or sections. Thus, the genus today contains roughly 1,500–2,000 species.


The generic name was first used by Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79) for a plant also known as strychnos , most likely S. nigrum. Its derivation is uncertain, possibly stemming from the Latin word sol , meaning "sun", referring to its status as a plant of the sun. [2]

Species having the common name "nightshade"

The species most commonly called nightshade in North America and Britain is Solanum dulcamara , also called bittersweet or woody nightshade (so-called because it is a (scandent) shrub). Its foliage and egg-shaped red berries are poisonous, the active principle being solanine, which can cause convulsions and death if taken in large doses. Black nightshade ( Solanum nigrum ) is also generally considered poisonous, but its fully-ripened fruit and its foliage are both cooked and eaten in some areas. Deadly nightshade ( Atropa belladonna ) belongs, like Solanum, to subfamily Solanoideae of the nightshade family, but, unlike that genus, is a member of tribe Hyoscyameae (Solanum belongs to tribe Solaneae). [3] The chemistry of Atropa species is very different from that of Solanum species and features the very toxic tropane alkaloids, the best-known of which is atropine. [4]

Food crops

Most parts of the plants, especially the green parts and unripe fruit, are poisonous to humans (although not necessarily to other animals), but many species in the genus bear some edible parts, such as fruits, leaves, or tubers. Three crops in particular have been bred and harvested for consumption by humans for centuries, and are now cultivated on a global scale:

Other species are significant food crops regionally, such as Ethiopian eggplant or gilo ( S. aethiopicum ), naranjilla or lulo ( S. quitoense ), Turkey berry ( S. torvum ), pepino or pepino melon ( S. muricatum ), Tamarillo ( S. betaceum ), wolf apple ( S. lycocarpum ), garden huckleberry ( S. scabrum ) and "bush tomatoes" (several Australian species).


The species most widely seen in cultivation as ornamental plants are:


Poisonings associated with certain species of Solanum are not uncommon and may be fatal. However, several species are locally used in folk medicine, particularly by native people who have long employed them.


Solanum species are used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species (butterflies and moths) – see list of Lepidoptera that feed on Solanum.


The genus was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. [8] Its subdivision has always been problematic, but slowly some sort of consensus is being achieved.

The following list is a provisional lineup of the genus' traditional subdivisions, together with some notable species. [8] Many of the subgenera and sections might not be valid; they are used here provisionally as the phylogeny of this genus is not fully resolved yet and many species have not been reevaluated.

Cladistic analyses of DNA sequence data suggest that the present subdivisions and rankings are largely invalid. Far more subgenera would seem to warrant recognition, with Leptostemonum being the only one that can at present be clearly subdivided into sections. Notably, it includes as a major lineage several members of the traditional sections Cyphomandropsis and the old genus Cyphomandra . [1]

A recent study built a densely sampled species-level phylogeny for Solanum comprising 60% of all accepted species based on full plastome dataset and nuclear target-capture data. [9] While the taxonomic framework of Solanum remained stable, researchers observed gene tree conflicts and discordance between phylogenetic trees generated from the target-capture and plastome datasets. The latter corresponded to regions with short internodal branches, and network analysis and polytomy tests suggested the backbone is composed of three polytomies found at different evolutionary depths. The strongest area of discordance, near the crown node of Solanum, was found to be a hard polytomy. Currently, the most likely explanation for the discordance along the backbone of Solanum is due to incomplete lineage sorting (ILS) caused by rapid speciation. Presence of short internal branches is typical of ILS in lineages with large population sizes and high mutation rates. This fits with the biology of Solanum in general, which is typically known to contain “weedy”, disturbance-loving pioneer species resilient to change. Many species are known to have large geographical ranges and ecological amplitude. [9] Some of the weedy characteristics found in these species include the ability to improve fitness and defense traits in response to disturbance, as well as having allelopathic properties which allow them to establish themselves to the detriment of native vegetation. If such characteristics were present in ancestral Solanum, they could have promoted rapid speciation across the globe, followed by rapid morphological evolution and speciation within areas. The patterns observed here could possibly be the result of three major rapid speciation “pulses” across the evolutionary history of Solanum. The idea of an ecologically opportunistic ancestor is supported by the tendency of many of the major clades to occupy periodically highly stressed and disturbed habitats, including flooded varzea forests, hyper-arid deserts, and highly disturbed and dynamic open mid-elevation Andean montane habitats, where landslides are among the most common areas where many of the species are found. [9] The idea that well-supported and fully bifurcating phylogenies are a requisite for evolutionary studies is built on the premise that such trees are the accurate way of representing evolution. The shift in systematics from “tree”- to “bush”-like thinking, where polytomies and reticulate patterns of evolution are considered as acceptable or real, comes from the accumulation of studies finding similar unresolvable phylogenetic nodes, despite using different large-scale genomic sampling strategies and various analytical methods. We argue that acknowledging and embracing polytomies and reticulation is crucial if we are to design research programs aimed at understanding the biology of large and rapidly radiating lineages, such as the large and economically important Solanum. [9]

Subgenus Bassovia

Section Allophylla

Section Cyphomandropsis

Section Pachyphylla

Subgenus Leptostemonum

Five-minute plant (S. atropurpureum) fruit Solanum atropurpureum fruits.jpg
Five-minute plant ( S. atropurpureum ) fruit
Solanum palinacanthum Solanum palinacanthum (cropped).jpg
Solanum palinacanthum
Shrubby nightshade (S. robustum) flowers Starr 020913-0042 Solanum robustum.jpg
Shrubby nightshade ( S. robustum ) flowers
Giant potatocreeper (S. wendlandii) flowers Starr 980529-4264 Solanum wendlandii.jpg
Giant potatocreeper ( S. wendlandii ) flowers
Porcupine tomato (S. pyracanthos) fruit Solanum pyracanthum 05 ies.jpg
Porcupine tomato ( S. pyracanthos ) fruit

Section Acanthophora

Section Androceras: 12 spp. [10]

Section Anisantherum
Section Campanulata
Section Crinitum
Section Croatianum
Section Erythrotrichum

Section Graciliflorum[ verification needed ]
Section Herposolanum

Section Irenosolanum

Section Ischyracanthum
Section Lasiocarpa

Section Melongena

Section Micracantha

Section Monodolichopus
Section Nycterium
Section Oliganthes

Section Persicariae

Section Polytrichum
Section Pugiunculifera
Section Somalanum
Section Torva

Subgenus Lyciosolanum

Subgenus Solanum sensu stricto

Solanum erianthum Solanum erianthum Don W IMG 1621.jpg
Solanum erianthum
Jasmine nightshade (S. laxum) flowers Solanum jasminoides1.jpg
Jasmine nightshade ( S. laxum ) flowers
Currant tomato (S. pimpinellifolium) fruit Lycopersicon pimpinellifolium1.jpg
Currant tomato (S. pimpinellifolium) fruit
Andean black potatoes (S. tuberosum) Andean black potato 2.JPG
Andean black potatoes (S. tuberosum)
Turkey berry (S. torvum) flowers Solanum torvum 3.jpg
Turkey berry (S. torvum) flowers
Yellow nightshade (S. villosum) fruit Solanum villosum 01-10-2005 11.10.56.JPG
Yellow nightshade ( S. villosum ) fruit

Section Afrosolanum
Section Anarrhichomenum

Section Archaesolanum

Section Basarthrum

Section Benderianum
Section Brevantherum

Section Dulcamara

Section Herpystichum
Section Holophylla

Section Juglandifolia

Section Lemurisolanum
Section Lycopersicoides

Section Lycopersicon

Section Macronesiotes
Section Normania

Section Petota

Section Pteroidea
Section Quadrangulare
Section Regmandra
Section Solanum

Other notable species

Forked nightshade (S. furcatum) Solanum furcatum I.JPG
Forked nightshade (S. furcatum)
Bluewitch nightshade (S. umbelliferum) flowers Solanum umbelliferum Bluewitch.jpg
Bluewitch nightshade (S. umbelliferum) flowers

Formerly placed here

Lycianthes rantonnetii and its congeners were often placed in Solanum Lycianthes rantonnei.jpg
Lycianthes rantonnetii and its congeners were often placed in Solanum

Some plants of other genera were formerly placed in Solanum:

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Eggplant</span> Plant species, Solanum melongena

Eggplant, aubergine or brinjal is a plant species in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Solanum melongena is grown worldwide for its edible fruit.

<i>Solanum carolinense</i> Species of plant

Solanum carolinense, the Carolina horsenettle, is not a true nettle, but a member of the Solanaceae, or nightshade family. It is a perennial herbaceous plant, native to the southeastern United States, though its range has expanded throughout much of temperate North America. The plant is an invasive in parts of Europe, Asia, and Australia. The stem and undersides of larger leaf veins are covered with prickles.

<i>Solanum pseudocapsicum</i> Species of plant

Solanum pseudocapsicum is a nightshade species with mildly poisonous fruit. It is commonly known as the Jerusalem cherry, Madeira winter cherry, or, ambiguously, "winter cherry". These perennials can be grown decoratively as house plants, but in some areas of South Africa, India, Australia and New Zealand it is regarded as a weed.

<i>Solanum aculeastrum</i> Species of plant

Solanum aculeastrum is commonly known as soda apple, sodaapple nightshade, goat apple, poison apple, or more ambiguously as "bitter-apple". It is a poisonous nightshade species from Africa and not related to true apples. The term "soda apple" probably derives from "Sodom apple", modified due to the fruit's detergent properties.

<i>Solanum mammosum</i> Species of plant

Solanum mammosum, commonly known as nipplefruit, fox head, cow's udder, or apple of Sodom, is an inedible Pan-American tropical fruit. The plant is grown for ornamental purposes, in part because of the distal end of the fruit's resemblance to a human breast, while the proximal end looks like a cow's udder. It is an annual in the family Solanaceae, and part of the genus Solanum, making the plant a relative of the eggplant, tomato, and potato. This poisonous fruit is native to South America, but has been naturalized in Southern Mexico, Greater Antilles, Central America, and the Caribbean. The plant adapts well to most soils, but thrives in moist, loamy soil.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cherry tomato</span> Tomato variety

The cherry tomato is a type of small round tomato believed to be an intermediate genetic admixture between wild currant-type tomatoes and domesticated garden tomatoes. Cherry tomatoes range in size from a thumbtip up to the size of a golf ball, and can range from spherical to slightly oblong in shape. Although usually red, other colours such as orange, yellow, green, purple, and black also exist. Those shaped like an oblong share characteristics with plum tomatoes and are known as grape tomatoes. The cherry tomato is regarded as a botanical variety of the cultivated berry, Solanum lycopersicum var. cerasiforme. In supermarkets, cherry tomatoes of different colors are often sold together with the phrase "mixed melody" in the name, indicating the great variance in their colors.

<i>Lycopersicon</i> Obsolete genus of flowering plants

Lycopersicon was a genus in the flowering plant family Solanaceae. It contained about 13 species in the tomato group of nightshades. First removed from the genus Solanum by Philip Miller in 1754, its removal leaves the latter genus paraphyletic, so modern botanists generally accept the names in Solanum. The name Lycopersicon is still used by gardeners, farmers, and seed companies. Collectively, the species in this group apart from the common cultivated plant are called wild tomatoes.

<i>Solanum muricatum</i> Species of plant

Solanum muricatum is a species of evergreen shrub native to South America and grown for its sweet edible fruit.

<i>Solanum linnaeanum</i> Species of plant

Solanum linnaeanum is a nightshade species known as devil's apple and, in some places where it is introduced, apple of Sodom. The latter name is also used for other nightshades and entirely different plants elsewhere, in particular the poisonous milkweed Calotropis procera.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bush tomato</span> Solanum species native to Australia

Bush tomatoes are the fruit or entire plants of certain nightshade (Solanum) species native to the more arid parts of Australia. While they are quite closely related to tomatoes, they might be even closer relatives of the eggplant, which they resemble in many details. There are 94 natives and 31 introduced species in Australia.

<i>Solanum elaeagnifolium</i> Species of flowering plant

Solanum elaeagnifolium, the silverleaf nightshade or silver-leaved nightshade, is a common native plant to parts of the southwestern USA, and sometimes weed of western North America and also found in South America. Other common names include prairie berry, silverleaf nettle, white horsenettle or silver nightshade. In South Africa it is known as silver-leaf bitter-apple or satansbos. More ambiguous names include "bull-nettle", "horsenettle" and the Spanish "trompillo". The plant is also endemic to the Middle East.

<i>Lycianthes</i> Genus of flowering plants

Lycianthes is a genus of plants from the nightshade family (Solanaceae), found in both the Old World and the New World, but predominantly in the latter. It contains roughly 150 species, mostly from tropical America, with 35-40 species in Asia and the Pacific.

<i>Solanum sisymbriifolium</i> Species of flowering plant

Solanum sisymbriifolium is commonly known as vila-vila, sticky nightshade, red buffalo-bur, the fire-and-ice plant, litchi tomato, or Morelle de Balbis.

<i>Solanum capsicoides</i> Species of flowering plant

Solanum capsicoides, the cockroach berry, known as polohauai'i in Polynesia, is a flowering plant in the family Solanaceae. It is native to eastern Brazil but naturalized in other tropical regions, where it sometimes becomes an invasive weed.

<i>Lycianthes rantonnetii</i> Species of flowering plant

Lycianthes rantonnetii, the blue potato bush or Paraguay nightshade, is a species of flowering plant in the nightshade family Solanaceae, native to South America. Growing to about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall and broad, it is a rounded evergreen shrub with a somewhat lax habit. A profusion of trumpet-shaped, bright blue-purple flowers with a prominent yellow eye appear in summer, followed by red berries. It is widely cultivated and may be hardy in mild or coastal areas. Alternatively it can be grown in a container and brought under cover in winter. It requires a sheltered location in full sun. Though related to food plants like the potato and tomato, all parts of the plant are considered toxic to humans.

<i>Solanum incanum</i> Species of flowering plant

Solanum incanum is a species of nightshade, a flowering plant in the family Solanaceae. It is native to Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East, eastwards to India. The species was introduced to Taiwan and Vietnam.

<i>Solanum caripense</i> Species of plant

Solanum caripense is a species of evergreen shrub native to South America and grown for its edible fruit.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Solanaceae</span> Family of flowering plants that includes tomatoes, potatoes and tobacco

The Solanaceae, or the nightshades, are a family of flowering plants that ranges from annual and perennial herbs to vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs, and trees, and includes a number of agricultural crops, medicinal plants, spices, weeds, and ornamentals. Many members of the family contain potent alkaloids, and some are highly toxic, but many—including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell and chili peppers—are used as food. The family belongs to the order Solanales, in the asterid group and class Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). The Solanaceae consists of about 98 genera and some 2,700 species, with a great diversity of habitats, morphology and ecology.

Solanum cerasiferum is a species of plant in the nightshade family. It is native to tropical Africa.


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  13. 1 2 Anderson, G. J.; Martine, C. T.; Prohens, J.; Nuez, F. (2006). "Solanum perlongistylum and S. catilliflorum, New Endemic Peruvian Species of Solanum, Section Basarthrum, Are Close Relatives of the Domesticated Pepino, S. muricatum". Novon. 16 (2): 161–67. doi:10.3417/1055-3177(2006)16[161:SPASCN]2.0.CO;2. ISSN   1055-3177. S2CID   85629504.
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  15. Reina, Antonio Maria MARTINEZ; Zumaqué, Lilibeth Tordecilla; Martínez, Liliana María Grandett; Pinto, María del Valle Rodríguez (2020-08-25). "Adopcion Adopción de la variedad de berenjena C015 (Solanum melongena L.) en la región Caribe colombiana: measuring adoption". Ciencia y Agricultura (in Spanish). 17 (3): 1–10. doi: 10.19053/01228420.v17.n3.2020.11062 . ISSN   2539-0899. S2CID   225303476.