Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Beskr. Guin. pl.: 126 (1827).
Origin and geographic distribution
Solanum anomalum occurs from Sierra Leone to southern Nigeria, Cameroon and DR Congo.
The ripe red fruits of Solanum anomalum are collected from the wild and cooked in soups and sauces, or eaten fresh. They taste bitter and are normally only eaten fresh by older people. When dried the fruits can be stored. The leaves are not eaten. In West Africa sap from the leaves and fruits is drunk or taken by enema 1–2 times daily as a treatment for leprosy. In Nigeria the fruits are used as a laxative and digestive. They are also served ground up in soups and sauces as an appetizer for sick persons, sometimes mixed with fruits of Parkia. In DR Congo leaf sap is drunk against gonorrhoea and crushed fruits are applied to maturate inflammations on fingers or toes. In Ghana fruit juice was applied to sores on the ears to alleviate pain.
Shrub up to 2 m tall, usually armed with prickles up to 5 mm long on stem, branches and midrib of the leaves. Leaves arranged spirally, simple; petiole 3–6 cm long; blade ovate to elliptical, 10–17 cm × 3–8 cm, base attenuate, margin sinuate, when young densely covered with sessile stellate hairs at both sides, glabrous when mature. Inflorescence an axillary fasciculate cyme, usually 15–30-flowered; peduncle c. 2 mm long. Flowers bisexual, 4–5-merous; pedicel c. 6 mm long, in fruit up to 2 cm; calyx c. 5 mm long; corolla 5–6 mm long, white, with stellate hairs on outer surface. Fruit a globose berry 5–9 mm in diameter, green when young, shiny red when mature. Seeds globose, 2–3 mm in diameter.
Solanum comprises over 1000 species. Solanum anomalum belongs to subgenus Leptostemonum, together with e.g. Solanum anguivi Lam. and Solanum torvum Sw., the fruits of which are also eaten as a vegetable. It is closely related to Solanum anguivi and is often confused with that species, also in the literature.
Solanum anomalum occurs wild in thickets and secondary forest in the drier parts of the forest zone.
Reports on the susceptibility of Solanum anomalum to the shoot and fruit borer Leucinodes orbonalis, a serious pest of egg plant, are conflicting.
Genetic resources and breeding
Solanum anomalum is rather widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion. A few accessions are held in Solanum genebanks in the Netherlands and Germany.
Solanum anomalum will remain a minor fruit vegetable. Its taxonomy, nutritional composition and medicinal properties need investigation.
• Bukenya, Z.R. & Hall, J.B., 1988. Solanum (Solanaceae) in Ghana. Bothalia 18(1): 79–88.
• Burkill, H.M., 2000. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 5, Families S–Z, Addenda. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 686 pp.
• Schmelzer, G.H., 1990. Aubergines (Solanum spp.) des environs de Tai (Cote d'Ivoire). Bulletin du Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle. Section B, Adansonia 12: 281–292.
• Behera, T.K., Singh, N. & Kalda, T.S., 1999. Genetic diversity in eggplant for resistance to shoot and fruit borer. Indian Journal of Horticulture 56: 259–261.
• D’Arcy, W.G., 1979. The classification of the Solanaceae. In: Hawkes, J.G., Lester, R.N. & Skelding, A.D. (Editors). Solanaceae 1. The biology and taxonomy of the Solanaceae. Academic Press, London, United Kingdom. pp. 3–47.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Kumar, R. & Gupta, S.S., 2001. Relative resistance to shoot and fruit borer (Leucinodes orbonalis Guen.) in eggplant and related Solanum species. Capsicum and Eggplant Newsletter 20: 128–131.
• Whalen, M.D., 1984. Conspectus of species groups in Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum. Gentes Herbarum 12(4): 1–282.
Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Solanum anomalum Thonn. ex Schumach. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.