Solanum L.

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.)
Morphology General
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
Morphology Leaves
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
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
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Berries smooth, yellow to greenish-yellow (? to red), spherical, 4–5 cm diameter, glabrous glossy, leathery with thick pericarp
Morphology Reproductive morphology Seeds
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

Morphology General Habit
A large shrub or tree up to 20 ft. high
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
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, Gabon, Ghana, Jawa, Kenya, Malawi, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela, Zambia, Zaïre, Zimbabwe

Solanum wrightii Benth. appears in other Kew resources:

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

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

Accepted by

  • Bikandu, B., Lukoki, F. & Habari, J.P. (2020). Flore d'Afrique Centrale (Zaire-rwanda-Burundi) Solanaceae: 1-162. Jardin Botanique National de Belgique.
  • 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.
  • PBI Solanum Project (2014-continuously updated). Solanaceae Source: a global taxonomic resource for the nightshade family
  • Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (eds.) (2020). Flore du Gabon 55: 1-137. Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.


Flora of West Tropical Africa

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

Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Bikandu, B., Lukoki, F. & Habari, J.P. (2020). Flore d'Afrique Centrale (Zaire-rwanda-Burundi) Solanaceae: 1-162. Jardin Botanique National de Belgique.
  • Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (eds.) (2020). Flore du Gabon 55: 1-137. Muséum National D'Histoire Naturelle, Paris.

Flora of Tropical East Africa

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

  • Art and Illustrations in Digifolia

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Flora of Tropical East Africa

    Flora of Tropical East Africa

  • Flora of West Tropical Africa

    Flora of West Tropical Africa

  • Herbarium Catalogue Specimens

    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew

  • Kew Backbone Distributions

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families.

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