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Many species are poisonous if ingested; most are suspect


Deciduous, Evergreen, Perennials, Shrubs, Vines

In addition to eggplant, potato, and tomato (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 described here produce decorative fruit’edible in the case of S.muricatum, but usually poisonous; if fruit is not described as edible, you are better off not sampling it.

Solanum crispum

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, posts. May lose leaves in hard frost.

Solanum laxum

From Brazil, this vine 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, promote vigorous new growth. Control rampant runners that grow along ground.

Solanum rantonnetii

As freestanding plant, it makes a shrub 8–12 ft. tall and 6–10 ft.wide, but it can be staked into tree form or,with support, grown as a vine to 12–15 ft. or more. Can also be allowed to sprawl and used as a ground cover. Bright green, oval leaves to 4 in. long; violet-blue,–– 1/2 -in. flowers throughout warm weather, often nearly year-round. Informal, fast growing, not easy to use in tailored landscape; prune hard to keep it neat. In severe cold, leaf drop is heavy and branch tips may die back.

Solanum xantii

FromCalifornia. Erect or sprawlingto 2–3 ft. high and 3 ft. wide.Ovate green leaves to 1 3/4 in.long. Purple, 1-in. flowers inlate winter, spring. Superiorforms include ‘Mountain Pride’and ‘Salmon Creek’. Little orno water.

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