Prota 2: Vegetables/Légumes
Engl., Pflanzenw. Ost-Afrikas C: 352 (1895).
Origin and geographic distribution
Solanum schumannianum is only known from mountainous areas in Kenya and Tanzania.
Young and mature fruits of Solanum schumannianum are eaten cooked as a vegetable, mixed with other vegetables such as peas, beans or amaranth to improve their flavour. They are also eaten raw. Fruits are offered for sale on local markets in Tanzania, and dried and pounded fruits are stored as powder. Juice of a mixture of pounded fruits, onion and lemon is used as a substitute for vinegar. A decoction of pounded fruits is used as a remedy for constipation and intestinal worms. Solanum schumannianum is also used for fodder and for hedge and boundary planting.
Erect perennial herb or shrub up to 3.5 m tall; stem and branches densely covered with soft, purple bristles up to 8 mm long. Leaves arranged spirally, simple; petiole c. 3 cm long, bristly; blade elliptical, 6–25 cm × 2–8 cm, base cuneate, apex acuminate, margin entire, glabrous when mature. Inflorescence an apparently terminal, many-flowered corymbose cyme; peduncle up to 10 cm long, sometimes mealy hairy. Flowers bisexual, 5-merous, pendent; calyx cup-shaped; corolla rotate, c. 12 mm in diameter, with reflexed lobes, white, cream or mauve, turning brown before falling. Fruit a globose berry 6–8 mm in diameter, in dense bunches, shiny green, turning yellow and finally dark red at maturity.
Solanum schumannianum belongs to subgenus Leptostemonum, together with e.g. Solanum anguivi Lam., Solanum anomalum Thonn. and Solanum torvum Sw., the fruits of which are also eaten as vegetable.
Solanum schumannianum occurs in dense, evergreen and wet montane forest, in open glades and around water holes in forest areas, in moist forest remnants, in disturbed forest edges and is locally common in dry montane forest, at 1300–2700 m altitude.
Solanum schumannianum is usually collected from the wild in the rainy season. Sometimes it is also cultivated near houses.
Genetic resources and breeding
Solanum schumannianum has a limited distribution, although it is locally common. Germplasm collection is recommended.
Solanum schumannianum will remain a minor fruit vegetable of local importance only in Kenya and Tanzania.
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. & Tengnäs, B., 2002. Edible wild plants of Tanzania. Technical Handbook No 27. Regional Land Management Unit/ SIDA, Nairobi, Kenya. 766 pp.
• 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.
• 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 schumannianum Dammer In: Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (Editors). PROTA 2: Vegetables/Légumes. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.