SOLANUM

FAMILY: Solanaceae

TYPE
  • Deciduous
  • Evergreen
  • Shrubs
  • Vines / Ground Covers
SUN EXPOSURE
  • Full Sun
  • Partial Shade
WATER
  • Moderate Water
  • Regular Water
SPECIAL FEATURES
  • Poisonous/Toxic

Plant Details

In addition to eggplant and potato (described under those names), Solanum includes a number of ornamental plants. All have small, star-shaped, five-petaled blue or white flowers with reproductive parts that form a pointed yellow structure in the blossom's center. A few of the species described here produce decorative fruit.

solanum crispum

  • Evergreen vine.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11.
  • From Chile, Peru.
  • Modest (even shrubby) climber to 12 feet., with ovate to lance-shaped, soft green, often wavy-edged leaves to 5 inches long.
  • In summer, bears 4 inches clusters of fragrant, lilac-blue flowers with yellow centers.
  • Small, inedible yellowish fruit.
  • Must be fastened to its support; well suited to trellises, walls, posts.
  • May lose leaves in hard frost.
  • Selection 'Glasnevin' has deeper blue flowers in larger clusters.

POTATO VINE

solanum jasminoides(Solanum laxum)

  • Evergreen or semievergreen vine.
  • Zones LS, CS, TS; USDA 8-11.
  • From Brazil.
  • Twines rapidly to 30 feet Purplish-tinged, arrow-shaped, 112- to 3 inches-long leaves.
  • Bluish white, 1 inches flowers are carried on threadlike stalks in clusters of up to 12; bloom is almost continuous all year, heaviest in spring.
  • Grown for flowers or to provide light overhead shade.
  • Cut back severely at any time to prevent tangling, promote vigorous new growth.
  • Control rampant runners that grow along ground.
  • Album bears pure white flowers; 'Variegatum' has leaves edged with creamy yellow.

jerusalem cherry

solanum pseudocapsicum

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zones CS, TS; USDA 9-11; annual or indoor/outdoor plant anywhere.
  • From Madeira; widely naturalized in tropics and subtropics.
  • To 34 feet high and wide (about half that size if grown as an annual).
  • Shiny, deep green, smooth, elliptical leaves to 4 inches long.
  • White, 12 inches summer flowers are followed in autumn by a fine show of scarlet (rarely yellow), 12 inches fruit that looks like cherry tomatoes but is poisonous.
  • In mildest-winter areas, plant bears flowers and fruit (and self-sows) year-round.
  • More popular than taller kinds are the many dwarf strains, which grow to 1 feet high and bear larger fruit (to 1 inches across).
  • Leaves and developing fruit of 'Variegatum' are striped in green and white; fruit matures to orange.

brazilian nightshade

solanum seaforthianum

  • Evergreen or semievergreen vine.
  • Zone TS; USDA 10-11.
  • Slender-stemmed plant to 15 feet.; must be fastened to its support.
  • Oval, 4- to 8 inches-long, medium green leaves are either undivided or quite deeply cleft into three or more lobes.
  • Clusters of violet-blue, 1 inches-wide flowers bloom in summer.
  • Pea-size red fruit is enjoyed by birds but should not be eaten by people.

costa rican nightshade

solanum wendlandii

  • Deciduous vine.
  • Zone TS; USDA 10-11.
  • From Costa Rica.
  • To 1520 feet., climbing by twining stems and hooked spines.
  • Glossy, green, ovate or (sometimes) lobed leaves 410 inches long are corrugated in texture.
  • Foliage forms a lush backdrop for dense, domed clusters of lavender-blue, 212 inches summer flowers.
  • Somewhat reminiscent of bougainvillea.
  • Let it clamber into tall trees, cover a pergola, decorate eaves of large house.
  • Loses leaves in low temperatures, even without frost; slow to leaf out in spring.

BLUE POTATO TREE

solanum wrightii(Solanum macranthum)

  • Evergreen shrub.
  • Zone TS; USDA 10-11.
  • From Brazil.
  • Grows quickly to 615 feet tall and wide; can be kept smaller by tip-pinching or pruned up into a small tree.
  • Prickly, irregularly lobed leaves to 15 inches long.
  • Fragrant flowers 2212 inches across open purple and age through shades of lavender to white; blooms intermittently from spring to fall.
  • Needs rich soil.
  • Good for a tropical effect.

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