- "Kangaroo Apple" redirects here. This name is also used for related species of Solanum.
Taxonomy and systematics
Solanum aviculare is similar to Solanum laciniatum, with which it has been confused. Compared to S. laciniatum, S. aviculare has smaller, flowers (usually pale blue, sometimes dark purple, white or striped blue / white) with acute corolla lobes, it has smaller seeds, up to 2 mm (0.079 in) long, and a different chromosome number (2n = 46) and is found on the Kermadec Islands, North Island, northern South Island and Chatham Islands of New Zealand, while S. laciniatum has much larger, rotate, darker purple flowers with broad, flared (ruffled) corolla lobes with rounded apices, larger seeds that are 2–3 mm (0.079–0.118 in) long, and a different chromosome number (2n = 92). It is mostly found south of Auckland and is very common in the southern North Island, South, Stewart and Chatham Islands. Solanum laciniatum is the most commonly found species overseas where it is often incorrectly called S. aviculare.
In addition to this two varieties of S. aviculare have been named. S. aviculare var. albiflorum is a minor genetic sport of S. aviculare and is generally not regarded as distinct but S. aviculare var. latifolium has a different growth habit, much broader, usually entire leaves and larger flowers, and in New Zealand (where it is endemic) it is still accepted as distinct by many botanists.
- Solanum aviculare var. albiflorum Cheeseman
- Solanum aviculare var. latifolium G.T.S.Baylis
Solanum aviculare is an upright shrub that can grow up to 4 m (13 ft) tall. The leaves are, 8–30 cm (3.1–12 in) long, lobed or entire, with any lobes being 1–10 cm (0.4–4 in) long.
Its hermaphroditic (having both male and female organs) flowers are white, mauve to blue-violet, 25–40 mm (0.98–1.6 in) wide, and are followed by berries 10–15 mm (0.39–0.59 in) wide that are poisonous while green, but edible once orange.
Distribution and habitat
Solanum aviculare grows in rainforests, wet forests and rainforest margins on clay soils. Associated species include the rainforest plants Golden sassafras (Doryphora sassafras), black wattle (Acacia melanoxylon), and lillypilly (Acmena smithii), and wet forest species brown barrel (Eucalyptus fastigata) and turpentine (Syncarpia glomulifera).
Bees are thought to pollinate the flowers.
The leaves and unripe fruits of S. aviculare contain the toxic alkaloid solasodine. S. aviculare is cultivated in Russia and Hungary for the solasidine which is extracted and used as a base material for the production of steroid contraceptives.
The orange berries are an edible form of bush tomato either fresh or dried.
Australian Aboriginals used the fruit as a poultice on swollen joints. The plant contains a steroid which is important to the production of cortisone.
- "Solanum sessiliflorum". April 2006. Retrieved 27 September 2008.
- "Solanum aviculare". Natural Resources Conservation Service PLANTS Database. USDA. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
- "Solanum aviculare G.Forst". Australian Plant Name Index (APNI), IBIS database. Centre for Plant Biodiversity Research, Australian Government.
- Benson, Doug; McDougall, Lyn (2001). "Ecology of Sydney plant species Part 8 Dicotyledon families Rutaceae to Zygophyllaceae" (PDF). Cunninghamia. 7 (2): 241–462 [370–71].
- "Solanum aviculare". PlantNET (The NSW Plant Information Network System). Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, Sydney.
- Bush Medicine, A Pharmacopoeia of Natural Remedies. Angus & Robertson. 1990. pp. 210–211. ISBN 0207164622.
- "Top 10 Aboriginal bush medicines". Australian Geographic. 8 February 2011.
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- Plants of New Zealand S. aviculare