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  1. Family: Solanaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Solanum L.
      1. Solanum welwitschii C.H.Wright

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Tropical Africa.


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

    Type: Angola, Cazengo, Muxaulo Mts, Welwitsch 6081 (BM!, K!, P (photo!), syn.); Golungo Alto, Welwitsch 6098 (BM!, K!, P! (photo), syn.)
    Scandent or twining subshrub or perennial vine, 5–8 m, sometimes creeping over ground, often deciduous;
    Stems usually basally woody, often corky, sparsely pubescent with short simple and occasionally branched (never stellate) hairs when young, becoming glabrescent
    Leaves usually alternate, occasionally opposite, often membranaceous, dark green above, ochraceous below, often decreasing in size towards the inflorescence, ovate to lanceolate, 5.8–11 × 2.8–5.5 cm, bases cordate to cuneate and decurrent, margins entire, apices acute to acuminate; surfaces ± pilose and glabrescent, hairs denser on veins, midribs and on lower surfaces, domatia absent; petioles usually long (0.5–)2.5–10.5 cm, curved
    Inflorescences terminal simple spicate cymes, often pendulous, with dense fascicles of flowers intermixed with densely pilose bracts arising at intervals along the whole length of the central rhachis, 6–16(–20) cm long, many (often 100+)-flowered; peduncles densely to moderately pilose/strigose, hairs short and usually simple, becoming glabrous, erect in flower and in fruit, dense papillate ochraceous collar around junctions with pedicels; pedicels (3–)5–9 mm long and erect in flower, 8–12 mm and erect in fruit, spreading or strongly reflexed, densely pilose/papillate
    Calyx shallowly cupulate, 1–2 mm long, sparsely to densely pilose externally with short hairs; lobes broadly triangular, 0.5–1 × and 1–1.5 mm, acute to apiculate; adherent in fruit when 1–1.5 × 1–1.5 mm
    Corolla purple or blue with yellow star, occasionally white, deeply stellate, 1.4–2 cm diameter, tube 0.9–1.3 mm long; lobes ligulate, 5.8–8 × 0.9–1.5 mm, densely pilose/papillate externally with short often branched hairs, glabrous internally, strongly reflexed to pedicels after anthesis
    Stamens usually equal; filaments free for 0.8–1.2 mm, glabrous (in FTEA area); anthers yellow, often unequal, 2.5–4.7 × 0.7–1.4 mm, connate
    Ovary green, 1–1.3 × 0.7–0.8 mm, glabrous; style geniculate becoming straight, greenish-white, 5.2–7 × 0.2–0.3 mm, glabrous, exserted up to 2.5 mm; stigma capitate, often bilobed, 0.3–0.5 mm diameter. Fruit orange to red, ovoid (globose outside our area), occasionally spindle-shaped, 4.5–10 × 4–7 mm, apiculate, smooth, with coriaceous pericarp. Seeds 5–12 per berry, ovoid to orbicular, 2–2.8 × 1.6–2 mm, foveolate; sclerotic granules absent
    Fig 16/12–14, p 109
    Moist evergreen forest, including clearings, swamps and paths; 700–1350 m
    Hunziker (2001) noted from Bitters’ detailed descriptions that there is apparently extraordinary variation in androecium morphology in these taxa. Of the 21 species recognised by Bitter in sect. Afrosolanum, 13 were described as having free anthers and filaments, with eight showing a) anthers and filaments completely fused between each other (e.g. S. inconstans from Togo and Cameroon); b) filaments free and anthers not fused but closely associated due to lateral papillae ( S. plousianthemum in Tanzania); and c) filaments free but anthers completely fused ( S. togense and S. welwitschii). With the exception of the fused connate anthers found in S. welwitschii, the differentiation as described by Bitter for the other species groups is not readily apparent from herbarium material, and they have all been synonymised with S. terminale. The syntypes on which S. inconstans (and S. terminale subsp. inconstans) is based are poor and fragmentary, though both are clearly vines. The inflorescences are simple but fewflowered, though the floral morphology is typical of S. welwitschii with the anthers on Kalbreyer 172 appearing connate. The berries on Mann 62 are ovoid and apiculate to spindle-shaped. Bitter’s (1917) redescription of inconstans re-cited the Kew syntypes and included a full Latin ‘protologue’ describing the few-flowered inflorescences, and the floral and fruiting morphology in considerable detail. Some of the features cited, whilst clearly placing this species in S. welwitschii, are not visible on the specimens today. De Wildeman & Durand’s illustration of S. symphyostemon clearly illustrates that it is a synonym of S. welwitschii. Unfortunately the Kew isotype specimen is merely a leaf fragment yielding very little information. Bitter (1917) later included a very detailed description of S. symphyostemon but is not clear whether he based this on the Thonner specimen or on the De Wildeman & Durand illustration. The excellent BR holotype is, however, completely morphologically conspecific with S. welwitschii. Durand & Durand (Syll. Fl. Cong.: 394 (1909)) later included S. lujaei as a synonym of S. welwitschii var. strictum. This would be consistent with the description of very narrowly lobed petals and connivent anthers in the protologue of S. lujaei. However, this protologue also mentions branched racemose inflorescences which are 9 cm broad basally – which would be more indicative of S. terminale. Resolution of the correct placement of this synonym therefore awaits location of a type specimen. The Preuss 397 specimens of S. preussii are clearly conspecific in all morphological features with S. welwitschii; the syntype specimen in Paris is ex Berlin and bears a determination in Bitter’s hand. In his protologue of S. hemisymphyes Bitter described the inflorescences as being terminal and almost spiciform, with the stellate flowers having very short pedicels and narrow lobes features which clearly place it in synonomy with S. welwitschii. He went on to describe the narrow ellipsoid anthers as being joined centrally but free basally and apically – features which are also sometimes apparent in the typically connate anthers. He concluded by noting its affinity with both S. inconstans and S. symphyostemon but differentiating it on very minor androecial characters not considered taxonomically significant in this taxon. This species is common, especially in secondary forests, in West Africa, where it forms a well-defined morphological entity. In East Africa and Ethiopia, some authors have considered that it should be considered as part of the polymorphic species S. terminale (cf. Gonçalves, 2005). A Ugandan specimen ( Dawkins 751), recorded as a single individual in Siba Forest, Bunyoro District ( U 2) seems to belong to S. welwitschii, though it is totally covered with a mealy indumentum of dense multiply branched hairs. Other morphological features are similar to those found in more typical specimens of this species apart from short basal forks on the otherwise spicate inflorescences. Since no other specimens exhibiting these features have been encountered it is provisionally regarded as an extremely pubescent form of S. welwitschii.  Authors of recent Floral accounts have varied slightly in their treatment of these Dulcamaroid species, either recognising them as belonging to the one highly polymorphic species S. terminale (e.g. Gonçalves, 2005), or to three major species with the recognition that overlapping morphology often makes the delimitation of these difficult (e.g. Friis, 2006). Within the FTEA area, the three major variants are for the most part well-defined, and have been recognised as separate species. Many protologues of the synonyms included here describe the occurrence of stellate hairs. However, stellate hairs are never found in these species – though (dendritic) branched hairs varying in their complexity are commonly mixed with simple ones in these species; these can be scattered and sparse to dense and complexly branched. These references to stellate hairs are therefore thought to be erroneous.
    Flora districts: U2 U4 T4 Range: Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, ?Togo, Nigeria, Cameroon, Bioko, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Congo-Kinshasa, and south to Angola and Zambia Range: Sporadic and uncommon in South Sudan and Ethiopia



    Native to:

    Angola, Cameroon, Central African Repu, Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Gulf of Guinea Is., Ivory Coast, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zaïre


    Other Data

    Solanum welwitschii C.H.Wright appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Jul 1, 2007 Tchiengue, B. [2232], Cameroon K000436479
    Jan 1, 2006 Adames, P. [779], Liberia K000489345
    Jan 1, 2006 Adames, P. [536], Guinea K000489347
    Jan 1, 2006 Hepper, F.N. [7406], Ghana K000489361
    Jan 1, 2006 Olorunfemi, J. [30589], Nigeria K000028559
    Jan 1, 2006 Savory, H.J. [25255], Nigeria K000489365
    Jan 1, 2006 Morton, J.K. [2959], Sierra Leone K000489344
    Jan 1, 2006 Morton, J.K. [8387], Ghana K000489351
    Jan 1, 2006 Tuley, P. [1058], Nigeria K000489364
    Jan 1, 2006 Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. [2518], Côte d'Ivoire K000489349
    Jan 1, 2006 Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. [8068], Côte d'Ivoire K000489350
    Jan 1, 2006 Letouzey, R. [3592], Cameroon K000391988
    Jan 1, 2006 Robertson [9], Ghana K000489358
    Jan 1, 2006 Robertson [9], Ghana K000489359
    Jan 1, 2006 Breteler, F.J. [1533], Cameroon K000391989
    Jan 1, 2006 Breteler, F.J. [2440], Cameroon K000391991
    Jan 1, 2006 Breteler, F.J. [1016], Cameroon K000391992
    Jan 1, 2006 Breteler, F.J. [786], Cameroon K000391993
    Jan 1, 2006 Etuge, M. [31], Cameroon K000028558
    Jan 1, 2006 Adam, J.G. [20447], Liberia K000489346
    Jan 1, 2006 Cummins, H.A. [45], Ghana K000489357
    Jan 1, 2006 Johnson, W.H. [158], Ghana K000489356
    Jan 1, 2006 Villiers, J.F. [654], Cameroon K000391990
    Jan 1, 2006 Bos, J.J. [2393], Liberia K000489348
    Jan 1, 2006 Irvine, F.R. [1812], Ghana K000489353
    Jan 1, 2006 Irvine, F.R. [1172], Ghana K000489354
    Jan 1, 2006 Irvine, F.R. [1172], Ghana K000489355
    Jan 1, 2006 Merello, M. [1147], Ghana K000489362
    Jan 1, 2006 West-Skinn, R. [19], Ghana K000489360
    Jan 1, 2006 Emwiogbon, J.A. [44266], Nigeria K000489363
    Jan 1, 2006 Pereira, J.A. [2640], Guinea-Bissau K000489366
    Jan 1, 2006 Mbani, J.M. [142], Cameroon K000190187
    Jan 1, 2006 Mbatchou, G.T. [21], Cameroon K000190190
    Jan 1, 2006 Pamps, P. [1564], Cameroon K000028557
    Jan 1, 2006 Milrhaer [8838], Cameroon K000391994
    Jan 1, 2006 [Cologne] [1952], Ghana K000489352
    Jul 5, 2002 Friis, I. [3842], Ethiopia K000788668
    Feb 1, 2002 Cheek, M. [7039], Cameroon K000109697
    Feb 1, 2002 Cheek, M. [7885], Cameroon K000109704
    Feb 1, 2002 Cable, S. [3586], Cameroon K000109698
    Feb 1, 2002 Cable, S. [3289], Cameroon K000109699
    Feb 1, 2002 Cable, S. [3860], Cameroon K000109702
    Feb 1, 2002 Etuge, M. [4101], Cameroon K000109700
    Feb 1, 2002 Etuge, M. [2150], Cameroon K000109703
    Feb 1, 2002 Ryan, P. [259], Cameroon K000109705
    Feb 1, 2002 Satabie, B. [1119], Cameroon K000109701
    Welwitsch [6081], Angola K000414109 Unknown type material
    Welwitsch [6098], Angola K000414110 Unknown type material
    Zenker, G. [3681], Cameroon K000788596
    Collenette, C.M. [29], Guinea K000489343


    First published in Bull. Misc. Inform. Kew 1894: 126 (1894)

    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: 115 (2006).
    • Fl. Rwanda 18: 305 (1922)
    • E.J. 54: 478 (1917)
    • Durand & Durand, Syll. Fl. Cong.: 394 (1909)
    • De Wild., Miss. Laurent: 440 (1907)
    • F.T.A. 4, 2: 231 (1906)
    • Cat. Welwitsch Afr. Pl. 3: 747 (1898)
    • P.O.A. C: 352 (1895)
    • K.B. 1894: 126 (1894)


    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Herbarium Catalogue Specimens
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    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
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    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2020. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.