Solanum

Solanum

"Horsenettle" and variants redirect here. If used for a particular species, this name usually applies to the Carolina Horsenettle (S. carolinense).
For the "Solanum Virus", see The Zombie Survival Guide.

Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, sub-shrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon (the tomatoes) or Cyphomandra are included in Solanum as subgenera or sections today. Thus, the genus nowadays contains roughly 1,500-2,000 species.

In particular the green parts (including unripe fruit) are often poisonous to humans, though not necessarily to other animals. But many bear edible fruits, leaves, or tubers. Several species are cultivated, including three globally important food crops:

Other species are significant food crops regionally, such as Ethiopian Eggplant and gilo (S. aethiopicum), naranjilla or lulo (S. quitoense), Turkey Berry (S. torvum), or the "bush tomatoes" (several Australian species).

While most medical relevance of Solanum is due to poisonings which are not uncommon and may be fatal, several species are locally used in folk medicine, particularly by native peoples who have employed them since long and know how to avoid poisonings. Giant Devil's-fig (S. chrysotrichum) has been shown to be an effective treatment for seborrhoeic dermatitis in a scientific study.

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.

Systematics

The genus was established by Carl Linnaeus in 1753. 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. 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 suggests 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.

Subgenus Bassovia

Section Allophylla

Section Cyphomandropsis

Section Pachyphylla

Subgenus Leptostemonum

Section Acanthophora

Section Anisantherum
Section Campanulata
Section Crinitum
Section Croatianum
Section Erythrotrichum

Section Graciliflorum
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

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

Formerly placed here

Some plants of yet other genera also were placed in Solanum in former times:

Footnotes

References

  • (2004): Clinical and mycological evaluation of therapeutic effectiveness of Solanum chrysotrichum standardized extract on patients with Pityriasis capitis (dandruff). A double blind and randomized clinical trial controlled with ketoconazole. Planta Medica 70(6): 483-488. (HTML abstract)
  • [2008]: Phylogeny Retrieved 2008-OCT-01.
  • (2006): Germplasm Resources Information Network – Solanum Version of 2006-APR-13. Retrieved 2008-OCT-01.

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