Photo: G.Leach NT Parks & Wildlife Commission

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gards 4 (1981) 273, fig. 122.

Fruit developed from single bisexual flower at base of rachis. Remnant rachis on which male flowers were borne is still present. Fig. 157B from Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gards 4 (1981).

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium. This map was created before the splitting of the species into two.


Solanum chippendalei Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4: 272; figs 119, 122 (1981)

T: Sir Frederick Range, W.A., 1 Aug. 1962, D.E. Symon 2272; holo: AD ex ADW; iso: AD, CANB, PERTH. 

[S. melanospermum auct. non F. Muell.; G. Chippendale, Trans. & Proc. Roy. Soc. S. Austral. 83: 202 (1960)]  

[S. phlomoides auct. non Cunn. ex Benth.; A.J. Ewart & E. Davies, Fl. N. Terr. 243 (1917)]

This species has recently been split in two with Qld collections being referred to a new species S. succosum - see Bean & Albrecht (2008) in Austrobaileya 7: 669.


Erect or spreading subshrub to 1 m, usually grey-green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; prickles to 10 mm long, common on stems, and on pedicel and calyx of bisexual flower, scattered to absent elsewhere.

Leaves ovate; lamina 4-7 cm long, 2-4 cm wide, concolorous, shallowly lobed to entire ; petiole 10-15 mm long.

Inflorescence of one bisexual flower below cyme of many male flowers, peduncle to 5 mm long; rachis to 10 cm long. Bisexual flower: pedicels mostly 10-15 mm long, lengthened in fruit; calyx usually 15-24 mm long, the lobes linear, 10-15 mm long, lengthened in fruit; corolla broadly stellate to rotate-pentagonal, 30-35 mm diam., purplish; anthers 5-6 mm long. Male flowers: pedicels to 10 mm long; calyx 10-15 mm long, the lobes narrowly triangular, 5-10 mm long; corolla stellate, 20-25 mm diam., purple; anthers 4.5-6 mm long.

Berry ovoid or globular, 20-30 mm diam., pale yellow; fruiting pedicels 25-45 mm long; fruiting calyx-lobes 20-25 mm long. Seeds 3-3.5 mm long, black. n=12.

From Flora of Australia 29: 165 (1982).

A detailed description of this species by A.R.Bean can be found at

Distribution and ecology

Widespread in N.T., extending to central W.A. and central-western Qld although Bean & Albrecht (Austrobaileya) now refer more easterly occurrences to a new species, S. succosum.

Common name

Bush tomato


An andromonoecious species i.e. one in which there are male flowers and bisexual flowers on the one plant. Often there are many male flowers in an inflorescence with 1(-2) bisexual flowers at their base. In this case only the lowest flower, which is bigger and pricklier than the rest of the male flowers above it in the inflorescence, develops into a fruit.

Andromonoecious species of the Dioicum group in Australia include S. beaugleholei, S. clarkiae, S. chippendalei, S. diversiflorum, S. eburneum, S. heteropodium, S. melanospermum, S. oedipus and S. phlomoides .

Symon (1981) indicated that S. chippendalei was most closely related to the other andromonoecious species, S. beaugleholei, S. phlomoides and S. melanospermum . The DNA studies of Martine et al. (2006) indicate that S. chippendalei, together with S. diversiflorum, S. beaugleholei, S. phlomoides, and probably S. eburneum, formed one of three clades for the andromonoecious species of the Dioicum group of subgen. Leptostemonum.


However further molecular analysis involving the trnK-matK gene region has now indicated that all of the Australian andromonoecious species (except for S. campanulatum , S. cinereum and S. stupefactum ) should be combined to form a single clade which also includes two African andromonoecious species and the Australian hermaphrodite species S. hoplopetalum (Martine et al., 2009).


References: Martine, C.T., D. Vanderpool, G.J. Anderson, and D.H. Les (2006). Phylogenetic relationships of andromonoecious and dioecious Australian species of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum section Melongena: Inferences from ITS sequence data. Systematic Botany 31: 410-420; Martine, C.T., G.J. Anderson & D.H. Les (2009). Gender-bending aubergines; molecular phylogenetics of cryptically dioecious Solanum in Australia. Australian Systematic Botany 22: 107-120.





Important food plant of Aborigines; treated fruit eaten fresh or dried. See P. Latz, Bushfires & Bushtucker, IAD Press, Alice Springs (1995) for an expanded account of its use by the people of central Australia. 

Information on the food composition of the fruit of S. chippendalei can be accessed through the NUTTAB 2006 (Nutrient Tables for use in Australia) database of the Food Standards Australia New Zealand.

Leaves are variable; deeply-lobed specimens approach S. melanospermum F. Muell., entire specimens approach S. phlomoides Cunn. ex Benth. Also closely related to S. beaugleholei Symon. Compare also with the newly recognised S. succosum.

Germination studies for mine regeneration or the native food industry indicated that germination of seed of this species is promoted with gibberellic acid. Whether the study was conducted on S. chippendalei or the newly described S. succosum is not certain but specimens came from the Great Sandy Desert.

Reference: Commander LE, Merritt DJ, Rokich DP, Flematti GR & Dixon KW (2008). Seed germination of Solanum spp. (Solanaceae) for use in rehabilitation and commercial industries . Australian Journal of Botany 56, 333–341.

Derivation of epithet

Named after Mr George Chippendale, a botanist who contributed greatly to the knowledge of Northern Territory plants while based in the newly established Northern Territory Herbarium in Alice Springs from 1954 to 1966. See

Plant status, if any

Conservation status as a plant of least concern in the Northern Territorysee

From the web

Extra images of S. chippendalei can be accessed through the Bean description of this species at

Further information for this species in WA can be found on the FloraBase site.