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Solanum erythracanthum Dunal

A.DC., Prodr. 13(1): 201 (1852).
Origin and geographic distribution
Solanum erythracanthum occurs in Madagascar and Mayotte.
The dried leaves of Solanum erythracanthum are smoked as a cigarette to treat asthma. A leaf decoction is taken as an antidiuretic. A root infusion is taken as a sedative. The fruit is eaten as an appetizer.
Solanum erythracanthum is planted as a live fence in southern Madagascar.
Spreading shrub up to 1 m tall, covered with stellate hairs; stems with many recurved prickles 2–5 mm long. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole c. 5 mm long; blade ovate, 2–5 cm long, base cuneate, apex acute to obtuse, entire or lobed with rounded lobes. Inflorescence a (1–)few-flowered fascicle, at first terminal, later becoming lateral. Flowers bisexual, regular, (3–)4(–5)-merous; pedicel 1–3 cm long; calyx c. 4 mm long, persistent, lobes c. 1 mm long; corolla stellate, c. 1 cm long, violet or purple, lobes lanceolate, c. 3 mm long; stamens inserted on corolla throat, filaments very short, anthers 4.5–6 mm long, opening by terminal pores; ovary superior, globose, short-hairy. Fruit a globose berry 4–6 mm in diameter, red, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, compressed, 1.5–2 mm long, black. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Solanum comprises about 1000 species and has a cosmopolitan distribution, except in boreal, alpine and aquatic habitats. About 110 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 erythracanthum has been placed in the ‘ Solanum zanzibarense and relatives’ group of the section Oliganthes of subgenus Leptostemonum. This group numbers about 12 species and occurs from Sudan to South Africa and on Madagascar. There are some other medicinally used species in this group.
Solanum hastifolium Hochst. ex Dunal occurs from Sudan south to Tanzania. In Kenya a root decoction was used to treat children with smallpox and a root infusion is drunk against abdominal pain, diarrhoea and as a laxative or emetic. The Maasai people administer a root decoction to cattle as a remedy for anthrax. Goats and sheep sometimes browse on it in the dry season.
Solanum taitense Vatke occurs in Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania and Solanum zanzibarense Vatke is a coastal species occurring from Kenya to South Africa. Of both species, the roots are chewed and the sap is used as a mouthwash against toothache. The Maasai people boil the roots of Solanum taitense and the resulting liquid is sieved and drunk as a cure for arthritis, malaria, typhoid and stomach-ache.
Solanum erythracanthum grows in disturbed localities, forest margins and roadsides.
Genetic resources and breeding
Solanum erythracanthum occurs throughout Madagascar in ruderal habitats and is not threatened by genetic erosion.
As no chemical and pharmacological analyses of Solanum erythracanthum have been done, meaningful predictions about its prospects cannot be made. The different local medicinal uses are interesting though and more research seems to be warranted.
Major references
• Boiteau, P. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1993. Plantes médicinales de Madagascar. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 135 pp.
• Boiteau, P., Boiteau, M. & Allorge-Boiteau, L., 1999. Dictionnaire des noms malgaches de végétaux. 4 Volumes + Index des noms scientifiques avec leurs équivalents malgaches. Editions Alzieu, Grenoble, France.
• D’Arcy, W.G. & Rakotozafy, A., 1994. Solanaceae. Flore de Madagascar et des Comores (plantes vasculaires), famille 176. Imprimerie Officielle, Tananarive, Madagascar. 146 pp.
• Ranaivoson, A.J., 1996. Les pathologies et leurs différents traitements dans le fokontany d’Analamanga, Soavina, Antananarivo et Atsimondrano. Thèse pour l’obtention du grade de Docteur en médecine, Etablissement d’Enseignement Supérieur des Sciences de la Santé, Faculté de Médecine, Université d’Antananarivo, Madagascar. 71 pp.
Other references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Decary, R., 1946. Plantes et animaux utiles de Madagascar. Annales du Musée Colonial de Marseille, 54e année, 6e série, 4e volume, 1er et dernier fascicule. 234 pp.
• Heine, B. & Heine, I., 1988. Plant concepts and plant use; an ethnobotanical survey of the semi-arid and arid lands of East Africa. Part 3. Rendille plants (Kenya). Cologne Development Studies 8. Breitenbach, Saarbrücken, Germany. 120 pp.
• Kiringe, J.W., 2006. A survey of traditional health remedies used by the Maasai of southern Kaijiado District, Kenya. Ethnobotany Research & Applications 4: 61–74.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Levin, R.A., Myers, N.R. & Bohs, L., 2006. Phylogenetic relationships among the spiny ‘solanums’ (Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum, Solanaceae). American Journal of Botany 93: 157–169.
• Ole-Miaron, J.O., 2003. The Maasai ethnodiagnostic skill of livestock diseases: a lead to traditional bioprospecting. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 84(1): 79–83.
• Whalen, M.D., 1984. Conspectus of species groups in Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum. Gentes Herbarum 12(4): 1–282.
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Bosch, C.H., 2008. Solanum erythracanthum Dunal. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.