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  1. Family: Solanaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Solanum L.
      1. Solanum somalense Franch.

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Djibouti to Kenya.


    Solanaceae, Jennifer M Edmonds. Oliganthes, Melongena & Monodolichopus, Maria S. Vorontsova & Sandra Knapp. Flora of Tropical East Africa. 2012

    Type: N Somalia, Çomalis, Revoil 83 (P, holo. photo!; P, iso. photo!)
    Shrub or woody herb to 2.5 m high, occasionally scrambling, bark reddish brown with prominent lenticels; stems grey to yellow when young from dense stellate pubescence of short hairs composed of 8 equal ± rays 0.1 mm with the central erect eglandular ray of the same size, often mixed with stalked stellate and short glandular hairs, glabrescent
    Leaves usually alternate, coriaceous, yellowish to light green, ovate to elliptic, (1.8–)2.4–7 × (0.8–)1.5–6 cm, bases cuneate (cordate), decurrent and often oblique, margins entire, apices obtuse to acute; dark green and stellatepubescent on both surfaces when mature, hairs as on stems but larger, denser on margins, veins and midribs of lower surfaces where stalked brown glands usually also present; petioles 0.5–1.6(–2.5) cm long, sometimes curved downwards
    Inflorescences terminal often becoming lateral, simple, forked (sometimes several times), or simple and forked lax cymes 3–7 cm broad, 3–16(–22+)-flowered
    Flowers zygomorphic; peduncles 0.4–2 cm long becoming stout and woody; pedicels erect and 0.7–1.8 cm 1ong in flower but curved beneath calyces, often recurved and 0.7–2 cm long in fruit; axes pubescent, often with stellate hairs and stalked glands inter-mixed, sometimes with only scattered hairs at maturity
    Calyx cupulate, 3–4.5(–6) mm long, stellate-pubescent intermixed with stalked glands externally, often with only scattered hairs in fruit; lobes narrowly triangular to linear, (1.5–)2–4.5 × 1–2.8 mm; adherent becoming strongly reflexed to pedicels in fruit when 3–7 × 1.6–3.5 mm
    Corolla purple occasionally white, rotate/stellate to stellate, 2–3.2 cm diameter; tube to 1.2–2 mm long; lobes broadly ovate to lanceolate with prominent median veins, 6–11 × 2.2–6 mm, margins sometimes inrolled, stellate-pubescent externally with hairs denser towards lobe apices, sparsely pubescent to glabrous internally, spreading to strongly reflexed after anthesis
    Stamens unequal; filaments free for 0.5–1(–1.3) mm, glabrous; anthers yellow to orange/brown sometimes with purple apices, four 4.8–7.5 × 0.5–1.2 mm, the fifth 7–10 × 0.8–1.6 mm with an incurved apex, usually splayed exposing the style
    Ovary 1–2 × 1.1–1.8 mm, glabrous, bilocular; style sigmoidal, curved apically over the longest anther, 0.9–1.3 mm long, widening to 0.6–1.1 mm beneath the stigma, ± glabrous, exserted 3.5–6 mm; stigma capitate to bilobed, 0.6–0.9 mm diameter
    Berries smooth, glossy, orange to yellow, globose to ovoid, 0.7–1.4 cm broad and 0.8–1.5 cm long, pericarp coriaceous and sometimes translucent, occasionally with scattered stellate hairs
    Seeds 11–30 per berry, yellow to light brown, reniform, ovoid or orbicular, 3–4.4 × 3–4 mm, flat, foveolate; sclerotic granules absent
    Fig 23/12–17, p 188
    Commiphora woodland, Acacia-Commiphora bushland, Commiphora-Lannea-Boswellia bushed grassland, thicket edges, roadsides, steep lava slopes; 60–1100 m
    The synonymy of S. anisantherum with S. somalense is based on Bitter’s protologue which described subulate calyx lobes, the longer fifth anther and the apically curved styles.  Bitter’s two varieties of S. somalense are largely based on minor variations in inflorescence sizes, floral and vegetative dimensions and are unlikely to be of specific significance in this species. Although Polhill (1961) thought that Bitter’s smaller-dimensioned var. parvifrons was a valid variety, the variability exhibited by this species across its distributional range suggests that such formal recognition would be unwise. Both varieties are therefore considered to be synonyms of S. somalense. Polhill (1961) considered section Anisantherum to be monotypic and more naturally allied to section Torvaria (Dunal) Bitter in the subgenus Leptostemonum rather than to the subgenus Eusolanum in which Bitter (1917) had placed it. However, as Jaeger (1985) pointed out, Bitter was uncertain which of these two subgenera the species belonged to but finally favoured the latter largely because of the absence of prickles. Seithe (in E.J. 81: 296, 1962) later moved this section into her subgenus Stellatipilum in which she had grouped all stellate-haired species and which incorporated the subgenus Leptostemonum. The section Anisantherum is composed of two disjunct species, the NE African S. somalense and the predominantly Indian species S. pubescens Willd. However, Jaeger thought the provisional records of two Yemeni specimens of the latter species could signify an earlier distributional range continuous from India to NE Africa. Whalen (1984) was uncertain of the placement of this species group within Leptostemonum. Jaeger (1985) considered that the biological significance of the unequal anthers in S. somalense was unknown when it was first described, though this phenomenon is also seen in other sections of the genus such as Androceras and Nycterium. Wright (1906) seemed to confuse S. somalense with S. carense Dunal (a member of the section Anthoresis); though his morphological description matches that of S. somalense, three of the Somalian specimens that he cited for S. carense (page 220 – James & Thrupp s.n.; Edith Cole s.n. and Appleton s.n.) also belong to the former species. Herbarium specimens indicate that relatively few fruits develop from each multi-flowered inflorescence. A few Ethiopian specimens (e.g. Burger 3001) exhibited prominent multicellular-headed glandular hairs interdispersed with the dense stellate hairs. The density of the striking stellate-haired pubescence varies considerably with that on the Somalian specimens generally being more dense than the often glabrescent forms found in Ethiopia. Bally & Smith described the flowers of their Kenyan specimen (14565) as having the distinct odour of nutmeg. There are conflicting reports on the edibility of the fruit of this species; they are occasionally eaten in Somalia, but Gillett (3901) reported the berries as being poisonous to man. However, sheep, cows, goats and stock camels often browse and graze on the plants in both Somalia and Ethiopia, sometimes heavily, though McKinnon (8/4) noted that this could result in non-fatal ‘tympany’. Medicinally the burnt, ground fruits are used on wounds in Somalia, where children also make spinning tops by pushing thorns into their berries. The Somalian species S. melastomoides Wright (see species 66) is superficially similar to S. somalense. The pubescence and vegetative characters are similar, as are the long arching styles and the unequal stamens. However in S. melastomoides the curvature of the fifth stamen is due to the filament being much longer than the other four, and not to the anther length itself as in S. somalense.
    Range: Ethiopia, Djibouti and Somalia Flora districts: K1 K7



    Native to:

    Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia


    Other Data

    Solanum somalense Franch. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Jul 3, 1905 Friis, I. [11171], Ethiopia K000788335
    Gillett, J.B. [12549], Kenya K001156585
    Gillett, J.B. [24108], Somalia K001156595
    Gillett, J.B. [22648], Somalia K001156598
    Gillett, J.B. [3901], Somalia K001156612
    Gillett, J.B. [12597], Kenya K001158045
    Gillett, J.B. [20664], Kenya K001158056
    Gillett, J.B. [20594], Kenya K001158059
    Gillett, J.B. [21150], Kenya K001158060
    Gillett, J.B. [19739], Kenya K001158061
    Bally, P.R.O. [16162], Somalia K001156584
    Bally, P.R.O. [B11828], Somalia K001156624
    Bally, P.R.O. [B10841], Somalia K001156628
    Bally, P.R.O. [12576], Kenya K001158062
    Bally, P.R.O. [12576], Kenya K001158064
    Robertson, S.A. [1411], Ethiopia K001156637
    Popov, G. [1026], Somalia K001156581
    Gillet, J.B. [21314], Kenya K001158063
    Hemming, C.F. [435], Kenya K001158055
    Makin, J. [13054], Kenya K001158048
    Lavranos [24646], Somalia K001156636
    Friis, I. [10379], Ethiopia K001156599
    Friis, I. [10154], Ethiopia K001156603
    Friis, I. [10154], Ethiopia K001156604
    Friis, I. [10183], Ethiopia K001156605
    Friis, I. [12939], Ethiopia K001156665
    Friis, I. [12394], Ethiopia K001156666
    Friis, I. [8439], Ethiopia K001156667
    Friis, I. [8670], Ethiopia K001156668
    Friis, I. [8914], Ethiopia K001156669
    Friis, I. [8597], Ethiopia K001156670
    Kirrika [53], Kenya K001158044
    Faden, R.B. [74/797], Kenya K001158050
    Carter, S. [653], Kenya K001158053
    Thulin, M. [10440], Somalia K001156627
    Collenette, J.S. [8636] K001156606
    Simmons [55] K001156645
    Brenan, J.P.M. [14815], Kenya K001158057
    Boaler, S.B. [B193], Somalia K001156663
    Bally [14565], Kenya K001158046
    Dale, J.R. [K697], Kenya K001158047
    Kilian, N. [2015], Somalia K001156593
    Kilian, N. [1704], Somalia K001156594
    Cole, E. [s.n.], Somalia K001156589
    West, O. [5444] K001156644
    Collenette, C.N. [132], Somalia K001156622
    Ironside Wood, J.R. [S/73/83], Somalia K001156634
    Wilde, W.J.J.O. de [10460], Ethiopia K001156671
    Fison, T. [112], Somalia K001156619
    Hansen, O.J. [614], Somalia K001156586
    Kirika, P. [NMK365], Kenya K001158049
    O'Brien, E.M. [10], Somalia K001156591
    Westphal, E. [544], Ethiopia K001156673
    Abdi, A. [GBK45932], Kenya K001158051
    Bavazzano, R. [s.n.], Somalia K001156609
    Iecama [BH-2], Ethiopia K001156649
    s.coll [S/4], Somalia K001156583
    s.coll [99], Somalia K001156587
    s.coll [s.n.] K001156590
    s.coll [SMP221], Somalia K001156592
    s.coll [22], Somalia K001156608
    s.coll [S/4], Somalia K001156621
    s.coll [C-23], Ethiopia K001156654
    Vilgo, K. [57], Somalia K001156579
    Brown, F. [52], Kenya K001156641
    Brown, F. [69], Kenya K001156642
    Naegelé, A. [59], Djibouti K001156607
    Ironside Wood, J.F. [S/73/83], Somalia K001156580
    Collnette, C.N. [132], Somalia K001156617
    Richards, M.J. [s.n.], Somalia K001156618
    Burna, E. [56], Somalia K001156656
    Hemming, C.J. [474], Kenya K001158052
    Gillbert, M.G. [1132], Kenya K001158054
    Musaya, J.M. [NMK496], Kenya K001158058


    First published in Sert. Somal.: 47 (1882)

    Accepted by

    • PBI Solanum Project (2014-continuously updated). Solanaceae Source: a global taxonomic resource for the nightshade family


    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • Fl. Eth. 5: 128, fig. 158.10.1–6 (2006)
    • Fl. Somalia 3: 210 (2006).
    • Jaeger, Syst. stud. Solanum in Africa: 361 (1985, ined.)
    • Gentes Herb. 12(4): 273 (1984)
    • E.P.A.: 878 (1963)
    • Polhill, Solanum in E & NE Africa: 17 (ined., 1961)
    • E.J. 54: 504 (1917)
    • Miss. Stef.-Paoli 1: 129 (1916)
    • F.T.A. 4, 2: 212 (1906)
    • Révoil, Faune et Fl. Çomalis: 47 (1882)


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

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