Photo: A. Robinson  A. Robinson

Photo: Unknown  SA NPWS

Photo: M. Fagg  ANBG

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 173, fig. 67 .

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum esuriale Lindley, in Mitchell, Three Exped. Interior Eastern Austral. 2: 43 (1838) 

T: Interior of New Holland, 19 Apr. 1836, ?J. Richardson s.n.; holo: CGE, iso: K. 

S. pulchellum F. Muell., Trans. Philos. Soc. Victoria 1: 18 (1854): see Taxon 35: 270 for discussion of the date of this publication.  

T: Wimmera River; syn: K; Avoca River; n.v.; and Murray River; syn.: CGE, E, TCD; thence through the desert country to Lake Torrens; n.v.; Spencer's Gulf; n.v.; and St. Vincent Gulf; n.v. 

S. ellipticum f. inermis Wawra, Itinera Principum S. Coburgi 1: 100 (1883). 

T: Floodplains of Murray River, Australia, `Coll. I 485'; iso: ?W n.v. 

S. esuriale var. sublobatum Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 583 (1929). 

T: near Longreach, Qld, Mar. 1910, Domin s.n.; holo: PR530896, photo AD.

S. tumulicola auct. non Symon: Purdie et al. (1982), p.p., with respect to Qld specimens according to Bean (2004).


Clonal perennial herb to 30 cm, grey-green, rarely pale green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; prickles usually absent, sometimes present towards base of plant.

Leaves oblong to oblong-lanceolate; lamina 2–8 cm long, 5–15 mm wide, concolorous, entire to slightly undulate; lower leaves with lamina up to 10 cm long and 3 cm wide, shallowly lobed; petiole 5–10 mm long, sometimes to 20 mm.  

Inflorescence 2–6–flowered; peduncle 1–4 cm long; rachis 1–2 cm long, pedicels 10–15 mm long. Flowers (4)5–partite. Calyx 4–6 mm long; tube ribbed; lobes linear to narrowly triangular, 2–3 mm long. Corolla rotate-stellate, 15–25 mm diam., purple. Anthers 4–5 mm long.  

Berry globular, ovoid or obovoid, acute, 10–15 mm diam., pale yellow or light yellow-brown. Seeds 2–3 mm long, pale yellow-brown. n=12, 24.

Distribution and ecology

Widespread in inland Qld, N.S.W., Vic., eastern S.A. and south-eastern N.T., with isolated localities in W.A.

Occurs in many habitats in clay, clay-loam, and loam, often along seasonal pools, creek-lines or levee banks of inland streams, and in W.A. in near-coastal sandy soils.

Common name

Usually cited as Quena in texts dating from Ewart's 1930-1 Flora of Victoria to the present day. However Gott (ASBS Newsletter 98:  8 (1999) indicated that the Aboriginal name for S. esuriale in earlier texts was given as Oondoroo, a name generally applied to S. simile today. Thus Ewart would appear to have confused the application of these two Aboriginal names.  


A variable species in habit, prickliness, leaf size and lobing, and fruit size; closely related to S. tumulicola Symon and S. coactiliferum J. Black. Bean (2004) considered that S. tumulicola was not sufficiently different to be recognised as a species and treated all specimens as S. esuriale.


Considered by Bean (2004) to be a member of the S. esuriale group of subgen. Leptostemonum.



Fruits eaten by Aborigines. For its use in centralAustralia see P. Latz, Bushfires & Bushtucker, IAD Press, Alice Springs (1995), but also see Gott as to the confusion of this species in interpretation of Aboriginal uses.


Occasionally reported as poisonous to sheep in southern and central Qld - see


Reference: N.P. McMeniman (1976). Solanum esuriale, a possible cause of humpy back in sheep. Australian Veterinary Journal  52: 432 - 433.

Selected specimens

N.T.: c. 7 km W of Argadargada Homestead, D.J. Nelson 325 (NT). S.A.: Renmark, 15 Jan. 1966, G. Howard (ADW). Qld: Boatman Stn, S.L. Everist 2737 (BRI). N.S.W.: c. 32 km ESE of Bourke, E.F. Constable 4512A (NSW). Vic: Nathalia, Dec. 1929, J.H. Willis (MEL).

Plant status, if any

Conservation status as a plant of least concern in theNorthern Territorysee

From the web

Photos of S. esuriale plants can be seen in the Bean interactive Key to eastern Australian species of Solanum at together with an extended description.

Further information on this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site, images of the species in WA can be found on the FloraBase site and a fact sheet for this species can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.