Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Tent. fl. abyss. 2 : 101 (1850).
Solanum memphyticum C.C.Gmel. var. abyssinicum (Dunal) Cuf. (1963).
Origin and geographic distribution
Solanum grossedentatum is poorly known. It is thought to be native in Africa, occurring from Cameroon east to Ethiopia and Somalia, and south to South Africa.
The leaves of Solanum grossedentatum are collected from the wild and used as a cooked vegetable. The fruits are eaten by children. In Kenya it is said to be grown together with maize, and the leaves are sold on local markets.
No nutritional composition is known for Solanum grossedentatum leaves, but it is probably comparable to related African nightshades such as Solanum scabrum Mill.
Erect to decumbent, annual or short-lived perennial herb up to 120 cm tall, often succulent, usually villose with red-brown glandular and shorter non-glandular hairs. Leaves arranged spirally, simple; petiole about as long as blade, winged; blade ovate-lanceolate, 3–7 cm × 2–4 cm, margin dentate to incised. Inflorescence a simple umbellate cyme, 3–4-flowered. Flowers bisexual, usually 5-merous; pedicel reflexed in fruit; calyx stellate, adherent to fruit; corolla rotate, c. 1 cm in diameter, white with greenish basal star. Fruit a globose berry 7–9 mm in diameter, black when mature.
Solanum grossedentatum belongs to the subgenus Solanum and section Solanum, together with other vegetable species such as Solanum americanum Mill., Solanum scabrum Mill. and Solanum villosum Mill. Research is still needed to better understand the species within section Solanum and their diversity. In Africa the name Solanum nigrum is often used for almost all species of section Solanum with blackish fruits. Most probably Solanum retroflexum Dunal is identical to Solanum grossedentatum, but more research is needed. Solanum retroflexum is a tetraploid (2n = 48), occurring throughout tropical Africa and introduced in North America and Australia. Its leaves are rarely eaten as a vegetable, but it has edible ripe fruits. Its indumentum is villose and consists of non-glandular hairs.
Solanum grossedentatum occurs in montane secondary scrub vegetation, often growing as a weed, at 800–3000 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Solanum grossedentatum is widespread and not in danger of genetic erosion.
Solanum grossedentatum will remain a minor vegetable. A taxonomic revision of the section to which it belongs is badly needed.
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Correct citation of this article:
Jansen, P.C.M., 2004. Solanum grossedentatum A.Rich. In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.