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Moderate
Toxicity
Many species are poisonous if ingested; most are suspect

Solanum

Solanaceae
Deciduous, Evergreen, Perennials, Shrubs, Vines

In addition to eggplant and potato (described under those names), Solanum includes a number of ornamental plants. All have small, star-shaped, five-petaled blue or white flowers with reproductive parts that form a pointed yellow structure in the blossom’s center. A few of the species produce decorative fruit—usually poisonous; if the fruit is not described as edible, you are better off not sampling it.

Solanum crispum

Evergreen vine, native to Chile and Peru. Modest (even shrubby) climber to 12 ft., with ovate to lance-shaped, soft green, often wavy-edged leaves to 5 in. long. In summer, bears 4-in. clusters of fragrant lilac-blue flowers with yellow centers. Small, inedible yellowish fruit. Must be fastened to its support; well suited to trellises, walls, and posts. May lose leaves in hard frost. ‘Glasnevin’ has deeper blue flowers in large clusters.

Solanum laxum

Evergreen or semievergreen vine, from Brazil. Twines rapidly to 30 ft. Purplish-tinged, arrow-shaped, 1/2–3-in.-long leaves. White, 1-in. flowers are carried on threadlike stalks in clusters of up to 12; bloom is almost continuous all year, heaviest in spring. Grown for flowers or for light overhead shade. Cut back severely at any time to prevent tangling and promote vigorous new growth. Control rampant runners that grow along the ground.

Solanum xantii

Evergreen shrub, from California. Erect or sprawling to 2–3 ft. tall and 3 ft. wide. Ovate green leaves to 1 3/4 in. long. Purple, 1-in. flowers in late winter, spring. Superior forms include ‘Mountain Pride’ and ‘Salmon Creek’. Little or no water.

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