Nightshade (Family Solanaceae)

 

The Family Solanaceae are herbs, shrubs, or trees comprising about

85 genera and over 3,000 species that are frequently lianous or creep-

ing.

 

Many species evolved in the Andean/Amazonian regions of South

America in habitats that vary dramatically and include rain forests

that receive more than 3 meters of rainfall annually to deserts with

virtually no rainfall and high mountains with regular snowfall and

subfreezing temperatures. Crop species of Family Solanaceae are

now found on all permanently inhabited regions of the world.

 

The Solanaceae are the third most important plant taxon economi-

cally and the most valuable in terms of vegetable crops, and are the

most variable of crops species in terms of agricultural utility. Family

Solanaceae includes the tuber-bearing potato, a number of fruit-

bearing vegetables (tomato, eggplant, peppers), ornamental plants

(petunias, Nicotiana), plants with edible leaves (Solanum aethiopicum,

Solanum macrocarpon) and medicinal plants (eg., Datura, Capsicum).

However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids whose toxi-

city to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in

small quantities.

 

 

Back to Inventory of Vine Families and Species

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