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  1. Family: Solanaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Solanum L.
      1. Solanum wrightii Benth.

        This species is accepted, and its native range is Bolivia.


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

    Type: China, Hong Kong, Wright 489 (K!, holo.)
    Large shrub or small tree to 12 m high with large flat crown; trunk becoming thick, dark brown, girth to 70 cm with smooth pale grey-brown bark, glabrescent; younger stems lanate/pubescent with spreading stalked (to 1.6 mm) stellate hairs mixed with scattered short simple eglandular hairs; shortly-stalked club-glands also present throughout; stems and branches with scattered to dense sharp stout yellow and sometimes recurved acute prickles to 10.5 × 4 mm, sometimes unarmed
    Leaves alternate or opposite, often coriaceous, dark green above, yellowish below, ovate to ovate-lanceolate, 11–30(–60) × 6–25(–40) cm, bases usually cordate and distinctly unequal, margins entire, sinuate or deeply sinuate-dentate often on the same plant, with 0–4 acute or obtuse antrorse lobes up to 9 cm deep, apices acute; with scattered small prickles on lower midribs; upper surfaces strigose with simple bulbous-based eglandular hairs to 1 mm mixed with scattered club-glands especially on midrib where mixed with stalked stellate hairs; lower surfaces lanate with long-stalked stellate hairs to 1.25 mm diameter with 4–8 spreading rays with a short central ray; petioles 1.5–7.5 cm long, stellate-strigose; occasional prickles sometimes present
    Inflorescences subterminal to lateral simple and few- to 50-flowered lax, helicoid cymes, with extended rachides in fruit, flowers andromonoecious, 5-merous; axes strigose with eglandular and glandular hairs mixed with long-stalked (–2.5 mm) stellate-hairs and stalked club-glands, becoming woody and glabrescent in fruit; peduncles erect and 1.4–6 cm long in flower and fruit; pedicel erect to recurved and (7–)11–21 mm long in flower, 10–26 mm in fruit
    Calyx pale green, campanulate/cupulate, 1.1–1.8 cm long, densely glandular- and stellate-strigose, glabrous internally; lobes narrowly triangular, 9.5–15 × 2–3.5 mm, with membranous margins, subulate-acute and recurved; calyx tube enlarging, becoming thickened and raised in fruit forming a woody rim around the berry base surmounted by adherent triangular calyx lobes
    Corolla blue, purple or lilac and fading with age often to white, usually with a contrasting basal star and median veins, stellate, 2.5–4.4 cm radius; tube 1–2 mm long, glabrous; lobes broadly triangular, 1.3–2.8 × 1.1–2.5 cm, acute with dense tufts of small hairs, with dense central bands of small sessile stellate hairs externally, ± glabrous internally except for median veins, corolla reflexed exposing androecium after anthesis
    Stamens usually equal within each flower, occasionally unequal; filaments free for 2–3.5 mm, sometimes thick and tubular, glabrous; anthers yellow to brownish, poricidal, 10–16 × 1.2–2.2 mm long, connivent
    Ovary 1.5–4 × 1.8–3 mm, glabrous, 4-locular; style straight either enclosed at base of staminal tube when 1.5–3 × 0.4–1 mm, or 6.5–18 × 0.7–1 mm and exserted up to 2 mm, white, glabrous but with small stipitate glands especially towards the base, sometimes tubular; stigma green, capitate, 0.3–1.5 mm diameter
    Berries smooth, yellow to greenish-yellow (? to red), spherical, 4–5 cm diameter, glabrous glossy, leathery with thick pericarp
    Seeds numerous (> 100), reddish- to dark brown, ovoid, obovoid or orbicular, 2.5–3.3 × 2–2.7 mm, rounded not flattened, deeply reticulate; sclerotic granules absent.
    Widely cultivated in gardens and arboreta, an escape in riverine and evergreen forest; 800–1700 m
    This species was originally described by Bentham (1861) from Hong Kong, but its native country is Bolivia. Bentham did note in his protologue that “no authentically wild specimens have ever been seen in China”. Solanum wrightii is now frequently cultivated as an ornamental tree, largely for its showy flowers, in tropical regions of the world, where it often escapes becoming naturalised; it is commonly known as the “Potato-tree” or the Brazilean Potato Tree. It is also occasionally used for shade in Mexico. Bitter incorrectly united this species with S. grandiflorum Ruiz & Pav. without examining the type of the latter. This is a very different species characterised by a floccose indumentum, absence of prickles and deeply lobed corolla (White in F.F.N.R.: 377, 1962). The considerable confusion surrounding the synonymy of this species was discussed by Heine (1960).  Bentham (1861) originally mentioned that his new species seemed to belong to the Melongena group. Later authors agreed or followed this treatment including Jaeger (1985) & Bukenya & Hall (1988). Bitter (1923) included it in his series Acanthocalyx Bitter; Seithe (in E.J. 81: 330, 1962) tentatively included it in the section Stellatipilum while Whalen (1984) placed it in his Solanum crinitum group, later including it in the section Crinitum (Whalen) Childs (Whalen 1999). Gonçalves (2005) subsequently followed this infrageneric categorisation. The species is reportedly strongly andromonecious with reduced and sterile gynoecia. All herbarium material examined exhibited large anthers and the majority had only short styles embedded within the staminal column, though the ovaries all appeared to bear numerous ovules. Occasional specimens exhibited long exserted styles. Only one or two fruits reportedly develop from each inflorescence, and these have been variously described as yellow or red but no annotations were found on herbarium specimens to clarify its berry colour. Symon (in J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 8: 158 (1985)) recorded up to 258 seeds in one New Guinean fruit examined, though he followed other authors by identifying it as S. grandiflorum Ruiz & Pav. Solanum wrightii is densely pubescent, exhibiting a mixture of stalked stellate hairs in which the reduced central ray may or may not be glandular; both long and short multicellular simple hairs which can be spreading or appressed and have glandular or eglandular heads, together with scattered stalked club glands. The stalked stellate hairs are often visible to the naked eye with the tubular and striated stalks varying in length up to 2 mm. As with other species, prickles can be present or absent on plants of S. wrightii; when present they are usually found on the stems, petioles and lower midribs. Apart from its widespread ornamental use, this species is cultivated as a nematode resistant rootstock for S. quitoense in Ecuador, Colombia and Florida, with the fruits commonly being used as soap for washing clothes and medicinally for treating tumours (cf. Mansfeld, 2001). Its charcoal has been used as gunpowder when mixed with ‘chora’ in Tanzania ( Kanywa 30).
    Range: Probably native to the northern Andes of South America, but now widely cultivated throughout the tropics Flora districts: U (cult., U fide Bitter, U 1923); K4 T1 T2 T3 Range: Sierra Leone, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Congo-Kinshasa, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe

    Solanaceae, H. heine. Flora of West Tropical Africa 2. 1963

    A large shrub or tree up to 20 ft. high
    Very large, violet "potato-like" flowers up to 3 in. diam.
    Cultivated at Njala, Sierra Leone.



    Native to:


    Introduced into:

    Cameroon, China Southeast, Congo, Costa Rica, Jawa, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Venezuela, Zambia, Zimbabwe


    Other Data

    Solanum wrightii Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

    Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status
    Jan 1, 2009 Urquhart [1861], Hong Kong K000545758
    Jan 1, 2009 Urquhart [1861], Hong Kong K000545759
    Jan 1, 1983 Nee, M. [26739], Mexico K000064038
    Jul 1, 1961 Greenway, P.J. [2277], Tanzania K000658709
    Jul 3, 1905 Deighton, F.C. [5516], Sierra Leone K000658711
    Jul 3, 1905 White, F. [2199], Zambia K000658694
    Jul 3, 1905 Williams, G.R. [372], Kenya K000658703
    Jul 3, 1905 Akpabla, G.K. [1860], Nigeria K000658712
    Jul 3, 1905 Brummitt, R.K. [15241], Malawi K000658696
    Jul 3, 1905 Brummitt, R.K. [15241], Malawi K000658697
    Jul 3, 1905 Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. [5727], Cameroon K000658714
    Jul 3, 1905 Friis, I. [8494], Ethiopia K000658568
    Jul 3, 1905 Biegel, H.M. [3463], Zambia K000658695
    Jul 3, 1905 Russell, P.G. [51541], USA K000658704
    Jul 3, 1905 Louis, A.M. [4092], Gabon K000658561
    Jul 3, 1905 Irvine, F.R. [2030], Ghana K000658692
    Jul 3, 1905 Ford, J. [303], Tanzania K000658705
    Jul 3, 1905 Thompson, S.A. [1686], Cameroon K000658713
    Jul 3, 1905 Wager, V.A. [39285], South Africa K000658716
    Jul 3, 1905 Wager, V.A. [39285], South Africa K000658717
    Jul 3, 1905 Anonymous [s.n.], Congo K000658698
    Jul 3, 1905 Macha, E.S. [376], Tanzania K000658700
    Jul 3, 1905 Geilinger, G. [1578], Tanzania K000658707
    Jul 3, 1905 Adetunji, M.O. [34038], Niger K000658693
    Jul 3, 1905 Toy, B. [4], Central African Republic K000658699
    Jul 3, 1905 Lucas, C.J. [s.n.], Kenya K000658701
    Jul 3, 1905 Luchman, A. [7252], Tanzania K000658706
    Jul 3, 1905 Amani Research Institute [s.n.], Tanzania K000658708
    Jul 3, 1905 Kenywa, P. [30], Tanzania K000658710
    Jul 3, 1905 Smeyers, ? [184], Congo K000658715
    Jul 3, 1905 Touit, J. [3345], Congo K000658718
    Jul 3, 1905 Nere, ? de [1846], Congo K000658719
    Gillett, J.B. [16596], Kenya K000658702
    Matthew, K.M. [73901], India K001153253
    Bang, M. [1608], Bolivia K000545843
    Wright, C. [489], Hong Kong K000545757 Unknown type material
    Nee, M. [30262], Bolivia K001166593
    Herb Stocks [s.n.], India K001153252
    Collins, D.J. [2373], Thailand K001153368
    Koorders, S.H. [39359ß], Indonesia K001170985
    Wood, J.M. [s.n.], Bolivia K001166591
    Wood, J.M. [s.n.], Bolivia K001166592
    Wiakabu, J. [LAE70377], Papua New Guinea K001153829
    Dilmy, A. [s.n.] K001170984
    Bourne [2482], India K001153254
    Rusby, H.H. [814], Bolivia K001166594
    Knapp, S. [6500], Peru K001166587
    Knapp, S. [6500], Peru K001166588
    Buysman, M. [127], Indonesia K001170986
    Acevedo-Rdgz, P. [6677], Bolivia K000545842
    Acevedo-Rdgz, P. [9994], Peru K001166589
    Williams, R.S. [647], Bolivia K001166590
    Kerr, A.F.G. [15151], Thailand K001153367
    Pearce [s.n.] K001166595
    Pearce [s.n.] K001166596
    s.coll [s.n.], India K001153250
    s.coll [s.n.], United Kingdom K001170981
    s.coll [181] K001170987
    Carocci-Buzi, V.P. [175] K001170983
    Lucas, C.J. [H412-16] K001170982
    Gable, J.S. [5858], India K001153251
    Rusby, H.H. [451], Bolivia Solanum setosicalyx K000585616 Unknown type material


    First published in Fl. Hongk.: 243 (1861)

    Accepted by

    • PBI Solanum Project (2014-continuously updated). Solanaceae Source: a global taxonomic resource for the nightshade family
    • Kress, W.J., DeFilipps, R.A., Farr, E. & Kyi, D.Y.Y. (2003). A Checklist of the Trees, Shrubs, Herbs and Climbers of Myanmar Contributions from the United States National Herbarium 45: 1-590. Smithsonian Institution.


    Flora of West Tropical Africa

    • Heine in Kew Bull. 14: 248 (1960).
    • in Fl. Hong Kong 243 (1861)

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

    • F.Z. 8, 4: 71 (2005).
    • Mansfeld, Encycl. Ag. & Hort. Crops 4: 1831 (2001)
    • Nee et al., Solanaceae IV: 321 (1999)
    • RHS Gard. Dict. 4: 320 (1997)
    • Bothalia 18: 85 (1988)
    • Jaeger, Syst. stud. Solanum in Africa: 456 (1985, ined.)
    • Troupin, Fl. Rwanda 3: 382 (1985)
    • Gentes Herb. 12: 247 (1984)
    • Biol. & Tax. Solanaceae: 119 (1979)
    • F.T.W.A., ed. 2: 335 (1963)
    • E.J. 81: 330 (1962)
    • F.F.N.R.: 377 (1962)
    • Polhill, Solanum in E & NE Africa: 41 (ined., 1961)
    • K.B. 14: 248 (1960)
    • K.B. 1914: 304 (1914)
    • Fl. Hongkong: 243 (1861)


    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
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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.