* Solanum mauritianum Scop., Delic. Insub. 3: 16, t. 8 (1788)
T: Based on plants cultivated in Italy from seed from Mauritius; holo: loc. cit. t. 8, fide K.E. Roe, Brittonia 24: 254 (1972).
S. auriculatum Aiton, Hort. Kew. 1: 246 (1789).
T: L'Heritier Herb.; holo: G-DC, n.v., fide K.E. Roe, op. cit. 253, microfiche AD.
Shrub or small tree to 4 m, green or grey-green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; hairs loose and tufted on young growth, sparse on upper leaf-surface, dense on lower surface; prickles absent.
Leaves elliptic; lamina 9-30 cm long, 3.5-14 cm wide, slightly discolorous, entire to slightly undulate; petiole 3-9 cm long, with 1-2 small sessile leaves in axil except on smaller twigs.
Inflorescence branched, many-flowered; peduncle 3-15 cm long to first fork; pedicels 2-3 mm long. Calyx 4-6 mm long; lobes triangular, 1.5-3 mm long, slightly enlarged in fruit. Corolla stellate, 15-25 mm diam., violet. Anthers 2-3 mm long.
Berry globular, 10-15 mm diam., dull yellow, pubescent, becoming glabrous with age. Seeds 1.5-2 mm long, light brown or yellowish. n=12.
Distribution and ecology
Native to South America, introduced and now widespread in many tropical countries. Naturalised in sub-coastal areas of N.S.W. and Qld, and locally in S.A.
Usually associated with disturbed habitats in higher rainfall regions.
Wild Tobacco Tree, Woolly nightshade
A member of subg. Brevantherum, species of which are usually shrubby, have stellate hairs, and have many-branched corymbose inflorescences.
Other species of this group found in Australia are S. erianthum and S. abutiloides.
Derivation of epithet
The epithet is a reference to Mauritius, the source of the seeds of the type collection.
S.A.: Waterfall Gully, Apr. 1974, T.O. Browning (AD); Waterfall Gully, B. Cumberland 62 (AD). Qld: Evelyn, D.J. Collins C74-10 (BRI). N.S.W.: 55 km SW of Grafton, L. Haegi 1414 (NSW).
Plant status, if any
A fact sheet on this species as a pest in Qld can be downloaded from http://www.nqccs.com.au/library/weeds/wild_tobacco.pdf but it seems that it is not a declared plant for the state.
From the web
Images of this plant as a weed can be seen on the Save Our Waterways Now site.
An infestation on
A photograph of this species by Hugh & Nan Nicholson can be seen on the Terania Rainforest Publishing Photo Library site.
The invasive assessment of this species by the Victorian Government reveals information about the properties of S. mauritianum. It can be seen at www.dpi.vic.gov.au/dpi/vro/vrosite.nsf/pages/invasive_tree_tobacco
A fact sheet for this species can be downloaded from the SA eFlora site.
A list of references to S. mauritianum as a weed can be found on the Global Invasive Species Database and a 1999 report on the prospects for biological control of the species in New Zealand can be downloaded at http://www.landcareresearch.co.nz/publications/researchpubs/WoollyNightshade.pdf as can a Feb 2005 fact sheet on its control in the Bay of Plenty region at http://www.ebop.govt.nz/Factsheets/PestPlants-050615-Factsheet01WoolyNightshade.pdf
Further information and links for this species can be found on the Solanaceae Source site.