SOLANACEAE, The Potato family
I was shopping with Eireann today on Mississippi, poking around all the lovely shops that seem to have sprung up overnight. At Pistils Nursery we saw this strange Solanum with slightly glossy leaves in a bold, tropical shape. The flowers are the typical blue/lavender with orange stamens. It’s native to Australia and New Zealand, where it is called Poroporo. The leaves are frost sensitive, but the roots are hardier, perhaps to 20Â° F. It grows 4 to 8 feet tall, in full or partial sun. The fruits are egg-shaped, about 3/4″ long, yellow to orange when ripe. The seed can be saved from one year to the next by picking ripe fruits and letting them dry slightly, then cleaning and storing the seeds.
I found conflicting information on the edibility of this plant. One source stated that the fruit, when completely ripe, has been eaten by Aboriginal groups. Looking further I found a graphic description of one person’s attempt to eat this fruit. Check it out on the bottom of this Plants for a Future data base report. Yikes.
This species is sometimes grouped with S. aviculare. There is a Mexican species, Solanum lanceolatum, that has similar, but smaller, fruits, flowers and habit. The leaves are simple, and slightly hairy. I found reference to a species called S. lanceifolium, but don’t know what that is.