Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Solanum torvum

Solanum torvum has a native range from Mexico to Peru and Venezuela, and in the West Indies and Bermuda . This plant is highly invasive and has become a noxious weed in many countries. Solanum torvum has both edible and medicinal properties.
Fig 1. From Rendle's 1938 The classification of flowering plants.

Solanum torvum
Pea eggplant/Thai eggplant

Shrub <3m. Alternate, lobed to deeply lobed leaves 7-25cm,  ovate to ellipticpetioles 1-5cm, entire leaf and young shoots covered in stellate hairs.  Stems with recurved thorns <10mm. Inflorescence racemose panicles. Stellate pubescent peduncle.
Weed status in Australia. Subtropical-tropical, enjoys moist environments.
Please don’t cultivate this weed, wild harvest is preferable. In unrelated plant studies, plants grown in wild as opposed to cultivated environments exhibited higher concentrations of active ingredients.
Flowers  Year round
Fruits   May...
Some Solanum species are poisonous, dangerous or hallucinogenic.

Edible fruit


Figure 2. Solanum torvum habit; growing as a midstorey on a wetland edge.

Figure 3. Solanum torvum fruit, “Pea eggplants”.
Solanum torvum has been used as a wild food for centuries, and although it is known in many parts as “Thai eggplant”, it was only introduced into Thailand relatively recently. Pea eggplant has been introduced and naturalized throughout tropical Africa, Asia, Australia, and the Pacific Islands. The fruit are picked when immature and pale green, and cooked before eating. They can be very bitter, depending on the maturity of the fruit, and are commonly used in curries.

I stir-fried some berries that I picked locally, but they were too bitter for me to eat. My friend from Thailand said that steaming them is better, and makes them less bitter, so I will try that.
Solanum torvum has been used a traditional medicinal plant by many peoples, and several of its attributes are the subject of current pytopharmalogical research. In Cameroon (Africa), S. torvum has been used to treat abscesses, jigger wounds, skin infections (ringworm, athletes foot), and dermatophilosis in animals. Additionally it has been used to treat stomach complaints, such as ulcers.  Under laboratory conditions, Solanum torvum has been shown to inhibit bacterial growth, and exhibits anti-ulcerogenic properties.
S. torvum has also been used in “folk medicine” to treat fever, and for analgesic and anti-inflammatory purposes. In India it has been used to treat respiratory tract disorders, gastro-intestinal tract  disorders and STD’s.
I bought these once, from a market stall, not knowing what they were. They tasted quite bitter, and I did not eat many, as I knew my body had never had them before, and it is always best to be cautious when trying something for the first time, especially plants with toxic species in the family. I was quite surprised to find out that they were the same fruit that grow on a common weed in my local area.
I have never used this plant medicinally, but am interested in experimenting with it now, as it has some great anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties. I don’t plan on contracting ringworm just to see if it is effective, but if I have the opportunity to test S. torvum I will add an edit post.

Fig 4. S. Torvum flowers, showing 5 petals, with the key identifying solanum feature, 5 prominent stamen. 


Chah, K., Muko, K. & Oboegbulem. 2000. Antimicrobial activity of methanolic extract of Solanum torvum fruit. Fitoterapia, 71:187-189

Nguelefack ,T., Feumebo , C., Ateufack , G., Watcho , P., Tatsimo , S., Atsamo , A. & Tane , P. 2008. Anti-ulcerogenic properties of the aqueous and methanol extracts from the leaves of Solanum torvum Swartz (Solanaceae) in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 119; 135-140

Mollick, Hossan, Paul, Rahman, Jahan & Rahmatullah. 2010.
 A Comparative Analysis of Medicinal Plants Used by Folk Medicinal Healers in Three Districts of Bangladesh and Inquiry as to Mode of Selection of Medicinal Plants. Ethnobotany research & applications 8:195-218


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  2. It is poison seeds. Please known me about solanum torvum