Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Math.-Naturwiss. Wien 38: 576 (1860).
Origin and geographic distribution
Solanum catombelense occurs in southern Africa, except Malawi and Zambia.
In Namibia tea made of the roots of Solanum catombelense is drunk or the roots are chewed to treat gastro-intestinal disorders. The sap of fresh unripe fruits is applied as arrow poison.
Mature fruits are considered edible. Leaves and stems are eaten as a vegetable.
Perennial herb, erect or spreading up to 120 cm tall; stems stellate-hairy, sparsely covered with prickles. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 1–3 cm long; blade oblong, 1.5–8.5 cm × 1–4.5 cm, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse or rounded, margin entire or more or less wavy to few-lobed, prickles often present on main veins, densely soft-hairy on both sides. Inflorescence a cyme, inserted above the leaf axil, 2–3.5 cm long, 2–7(–10)-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, (4–)5(–6)-merous; calyx bell- or cup-shaped, densely soft hairy, lobes unequal, ovate to linear-lanceolate, up to 3.5(–5) mm long, obtuse, recurved; corolla rotate to stellate, up to 10 mm in diameter, white to purple or violet; stamens alternating with corolla lobes, filaments c. 0.5 mm long, anthers up to 4.5 mm long, opening with apical pores; ovary superior, hairy on upper half, style hairy, 4.5–7.5 mm long. Fruit a globose berry 5–12 mm in diameter, glabrous, yellow, orange, red or blackish when ripe, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 2.5–3.5 mm in diameter, pale yellow to brown. Seedling with epigeal germination; cotyledons thin, leafy.
Solanum comprises over 1000 species and has a cosmopolitan distribution, except in boreal, alpine and aquatic habitats. At least 100 species are found in tropical Africa. The principal centre of diversity is located in Central and South America, with secondary centres in Africa and Australia. Solanum has been subdivided into 7 subgenera and numerous sections and series. Solanum catombelense has been placed in the ‘ Solanum tomentosum and relatives’ group of the section Oliganthes of subgenus Leptostemonum. This group comprises 3 species and occurs in southern Africa. The other species in this group, Solanum burchellii Dunal and Solanum tomentosum L., are also used medicinally. A root infusion of Solanum burchellii is drunk to cure venereal diseases in Namibia. Solanum tomentosum is restricted to South Africa and a decoction of the roots is drunk to cure syphilis.
The closely related ‘ Solanum capense and relatives’ group comprises about 7 species, all but one restricted to southern Africa. Solanum glabratum Dunal (synonym: Solanum sepicula Dunal) occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. In Ethiopia the roots of Solanum glabratum are crushed, mixed with water and given as a drink to cattle suffering from anthrax. Of the species restricted to southern Africa, 3 have documented medicinal uses in Namibia: Solanum capense L., Solanum dinteri Bitter and Solanum namaquense Dammer. In South Africa the pulverized roots of Solanum capense are applied for toothache and milk boiled with pounded roots is drunk to cure urinary tract problems. Leaf pulp is applied to ulcers and leaf sap to inflamed eyes. Squashed fruits are applied to warts and skin affected by ringworm. The roots of Solanum dinteri are taken for stomach complaints, a root decoction is drunk to cure venereal diseases and crushed roots are applied externally to relieve pain. A root decoction of Solanum namaquense is used as a purgative and for liver, gall bladder and stomach complaints. The roots enter in preparations to treat venereal diseases, urinary tract problems and dysmenorrhoea. Fruits are squashed on lips and tongue to treat fever blisters.
Solanum catombelense occurs in many vegetation types: coastal forest, woodland, wooded grassland, along rivers, on rocky outcrops and in overgrazed and disturbed localities, from sea-level up to 1300 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
There is no indication that Solanum catombelense is in danger of genetic erosion.
Solanum catombelense will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant.
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Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2008. Solanum catombelense Peyr. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.