Solanum lasiocarpum Dunal, Hist. nat. Solanum 223 (1813)
Type citation: “Hab. in Malabariae arenosis; Hort. Mal. in insula Batavia. Moris.”
T: lecto: Rheede, Hortus Indicus Malabaricus 2: (1680) tab. 35., cited by Whalen, Gentes Herbarium 12: 100 (1981). This image can be accessed on the web through the Botanicus Digital Library
S. ferox auct. non L.: Purdie et al., Fl. Austral. 29: 119 (1982).
Shrub 2 (-3) m tall; stems relatively thick, woody below, unarmed or armed with prickles to 6 mm long, straight or slightly recurved, abundant on stem, petiole, upper and lower leaf surface, (Bitter (1919) reports forms without prickles); all parts with dense indumentum of hirsute-villous stellate hairs (long or short multiseriate-stalked, porrect-stellate, with long to very long central ray, often glandular); general aspect yellowish or rusty-green.
Leaves markedly discolorous, often paired at nodes, when paired smaller leaf c. 2/3 the size of the large; juvenile leaf lamina to 30 30 cm, broadly ovate, c. 6 major lobes on each side, sinuses shallow, rounded and barely cut 1/5 of way to midrib, lobe apices acute; adult leaves to 18 x 15 cm, ovate to ovate-elliptic, with 4–6 short, broadly triangular lobes on each side, with smaller secondary lobes or teeth, sinuses shallow and rounded, rarely cut 1/5 of way to midrib, leaf and lobe apices acute, base truncate, rounded to cordate; petiole 5–8 cm long.
Inflorescence of (1) 2–6 flowered, densely hairy cymes; peduncle very short; floral rachis short; pedicel 5–10 mm long. Calyx 6–8 mm long, broadly campanulate; lobes short, broadly triangular, apex acute. Corolla to 4 cm diam., stellate, white, densely hairy outside. Stamens: filaments very short or absent; anthers to 8 mm long, broadly lanceolate, erect but the group slightly deflexed. Ovary to 4 mm long, somewhat conical, densely pubescent; style 5–7 mm long, erect, pale, glabrous; stigma capitate, small.
Berry 1.5–3.0 cm diam., solitary or in clusters of 2–3, globose, densely pubescent with stellate hairs having a long central ray, yellowish; calyx slightly enlarged to cover base of fruit. Seeds 2–2.5 mm long, flat, slightly notched, pale yellow.
Distribution and ecology
A poorly known species in Australia, previously recorded only from extreme tip of Cape York Peninsula, Qld, where found in basaltic soil in a forest opening. There has been a recent record of the species from NT where its status was uncertain. Also occurs in New Guinea and Malesia.
Only recently recorded in Australia, but possibly an early introduction from Central America.
S. lasiocarpum is part of the S. quitoense group of subgen. Leptostemonum (Whalen 1984).
S. lasiocarpum occurs in SE Asia and the closely related S. repandum G. Forster in the Western Pacific. Both are minor cultivars and thought to be very early introductions from Central America.
Whalen (1984) treated both species as part of the Quitoense group of subg. Leptostemonum; only S. lasiocarpum occurs in Australia. The species of this group are all S. American with some of them spreading beyond there, as above, and some possessing edible fruits.
Molecular studies (Levin et al. 2006) support the Lasiocarpa clade (or the Quitoense group or Sect. Lasiocarpa (Dunal)D'Arcy) thus supporting the suggestion that S. lasiocarpum is an introduced species to Australia, as had already been surmised.
For a background to earlier considerations about their distributions see C.B. Heiser (1987). Origins of Solanum lasiocarpum and S. repandum. American Journal of Botany, 74: 1045-1048.
Derivation of epithet
The epithet refers to pubescent nature of the fruit: from lasio-, Gk for woolly or hairy, and -carpus, Gk for fruit.
NT: Peter Bekkers Block,
QLD: COOK DISTRICT: near Lockerbie, Dec 1980, Hyland 10946A (BRI, QRS); 22.4 km NE of Bamaga, Feb 1994, Fell DGF4064 & Stanton (BRI, MEL, QRS).
Additional specimens cited by Bean (2004) for Qld.
From the web
A line drawing of S. lasiocarpum can be seen on the Flora of China site visited through the W3 Tropicos site of the Missouri Botanic Gardens. An image of the type specimen can also be accessed through this site.
Further information, images of herbarium specimens and links for this species can be found on the Solanaceae Source site and there is a comprehensive discussion on the origins and relationships of the species.
An image of the fruits and leaves can be seen at http://biodiversity.sci.kagoshima-u.ac.jp/suzuki/halimun/plant/live/dscn1428s.jpg