Solanum linnaeanum

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Solanum linnaeanum
Starr 060225-8712 Solanum linnaeanum.jpg
Purple flowers and ripe yellow fruit stand out against the green foliage
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. linnaeanum
Binomial name
Solanum linnaeanum
Hepper & P.-M.L.Jaeger

See text

Unripe fruit and thorns

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.

This poisonous plant bearing tomato-like fruit is native to South Africa,[1] Zimbabwe and Mozambique,[2] and is considered to be an invasive species in Australia,[3] New Zealand,[4] Hawaii, Fiji, New Caledonia, Aseer region of Saudi Arabia, Northern areas of Pakistan and other Pacific Islands.[5]

Solbec Pharmaceuticals attempted to develop Coramsine,[6] a 1:1 mixture of the alkaloids solamargine and solasonine extracted from Solanum linnaeanum, as a cancer drug. Preliminary clinical trials were initially promising,[7] but the drug was ultimately unsuccessful.

Solanum linnaeanum may be confused with Solanum cinereum (Narrawa burr) in Australia,[8] the neotropical Solanum capsicoides,[9] or Solanum incanum in Africa.


Due to confusion about what species the original Solanum sodomeum of Carl Linnaeus referred to, the old description was discarded and the plant redescribed as currently understood. A new taxon honoring Linnaeus was chosen. A number of invalid taxa have thus become attached to the devil's apple:[10]

  • Solanum astrophorum Jan (nomen nudum)
  • Solanum hermannii Dunal
  • Solanum mccannii Santapau
  • Solanum sodomeum L.
  • Solanum sodomeum var. hermannii (Dunal) Dunal
  • Solanum sodomeum var. mediterraneum Dunal
  • Solanum undatum Bouton ex Dunal (preoccupied)
Solanum undatum as described by Walsh is Solanum lycocarpum.
Solanum undatum var. violaceum, described by Dunal in de Candolle, is the original Solanum aethiopicum of Linnaeus.

It is not clear whether the plant described by Drège as Solanum sodomeum was of this species. Solanum sodomeum by Russ based on Nees von Esenbeck is another nomen nudum.[10] Furthermore, the common name "Apple of Sodom" is also applied to the dogbane species Calotropis procera.[11]


  1. ^ AWC (2004)
  2. ^ Species Fact Sheet, Queensland Government
  3. ^ DAF-WA [2006]
  4. ^ Roy et al. (2005)
  5. ^ Information on Solanum linnaeanum as relevant to Pacific Islands also in Aseer reigon in Saudi Arabi and northern areas of Pakistan
  6. ^ SP [2006]
  7. ^ Millward et al. (2005)
  8. ^ Species Fact Sheet, Queensland Government
  9. ^ Species Fact Sheet, Queensland Government
  10. ^ a b Solanaceae Source (2008)
  11. ^ "USDA GRIN Taxonomy". Retrieved 3 September 2014.