Solanum americanum
[Black Nightshade]
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Close-up views:

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Seedling:

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Plant Notes

| Last updated: December 2022 |

At one time, the botanical name of this plant was Solanum nodiflorum based on a genetic study published by Manoko in 2007 [1]. Besides the genetic evidence, the article also mentioned that the flower of Solanum americanum has an exserted style (pillar-like stalk that connect to the ovary) while this feature is not presence in Solanum nodiflorum. The plant that I saw and grew in Singapore did not had an exserted style.

In a subsequent publication in 2018 [2], the findings from Manoko was disputed. According to this article by Sarkinen (page 61), the concepts of the taxon used in the 2007 study were different. It further elaborated that the Solanum nodiflorum studied in that publication was considered to be Solanum americanum based on the treatment of the taxon in the current publication and suspected that the Solanum americanum examined by Manoko was another species.

In Singapore, Solanum americanum was listed in the local flora checklist published in 2009. In the iNaturalist website viewed on 25 December 2022, there were 5 sightings from Singapore with the earliest observation dated in November 2020.

The family where the genus Solanum belongs is commonly known as the nightshade family, which includes tomato and potato plants. Solanum americanum is easily mixed up with a similar-looking species, Solanum nigrum, also known as black nightshade or blackberry nightshade. Some folks have confused this plant with the deadly nightshade or belladonna (Atropa belladonna) which is a toxic plant. Atropa belladonna is not reported in Singapore. However, there was a report of Solanum nigrum in Singapore from the SG Strawberries blog back in 2019 though I suspect the plant was likely a Solanum americanum instead.

Solanum americanum was reported to be a local vegetable in Indonesia [3] and Africa [4].

Reference:

[1] Manoko MLK, van den Berg RG, Feron RMC, van der Weerden GM, Mariani C. AFLP markers support separation of Solanum nodiflorum from Solanum americanum sensu stricto (Solanaceae). Plant Systematics & Evolution 2007;267:1-11. | Read article |

[2] Sarkinen T, Poczai P, Barboza GE, van der Weerden GM, Baden M, Knapp S. A revision of the Old World Black Nightshades (Morelloid clade of Solanum L., Solanaceae). PhytoKeys 2018;106:1-223. | Read article |

[3] Mulyanto D, Iskandar J, Abdoellah OS, Iskandar BS, Riawanti S, Partasasmita R. Leunca (Solanum americanum Mill.): The uses as vegetable in two villages in Upper Citarum Area, Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. Biodiversitas 2018;19(5):1941-1954. | Read article |

[4] Yuan B, Byrnes D, Giurleo D, Villani T, Simon JE, Wu Q. Rapid screening of toxic glycoalkaloids and micronutrients in edible nightshades (Solanum spp.). J Food Drug Anal 2018;26(2):751-760. | Read article |

In 2012, I collected some matured fruits from the wild and grew the plant in my pot. Below were some pictures taken during this journey:

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Online Resources

| Plants of the World Online | New Zealand Plant Conservation Network | Atlas of Poisonous Plants in Hong Kong | Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) | CABI Digital Library | SEINet |

Publications

[2017] Silva EL, Almeida-Lafetá RC, Borges RM, Staerk D. Dual high-resolution inhibition profiling and HPLC-HRMS-SPE-NMR analysis for identification of α-glucosidase and radical scavenging inhibitors in Solanum americanum Mill. Fitoterapia 2017;118:42-48. | Read article |


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