Pot grown plant at Waite Institute, SA. Photo: D.E. Symon 2834 D.E. Symon

Photo: D.E. Symon D.E. Symon

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 287, fig. 130.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum oedipus Symon, Trans. Roy. Soc. S. Austral. 95: 232; fig. 7 (1971)


T: between Kalumburu Mission and Longini Landing, North Kimberley W.A., 29 May 1971, D.E. Symon 7119; holo: CANB; iso: AD ex ADW, K, L, NT,PERTH.


S. pectinatum A. Cunn., nomen nudum; Benth., Fl. Austral. 4: 459 (1868). First referred to as S. pectinatum by Alan Cunningham in his manuscript and on his collections in K, as described by Bentham. However Bentham did not provide a description and even if he had this name could not have been used as it had already been used earlier for other species of Solanum.


S. cataphractum auct.non. A.Cunn. ex Benth.: Benth., Fl. Austral. 4: 459 (1868), p.p.


Erect, sparse, clonal shrub to 2m, bright green; leaf axils, petioles, base of younger leaves and inflorescence pubescent with minute stellate hairs; glandular hairs present on calyx of bisexual flower; prickles 5-10 mm long, abundant on young stems and calyx, scattered to absent elsewhere.  

Leaves elliptic; lamina 7-10 cm long, 3-6 cm wide, sometimes larger, concolorous, shallowly lobed; lobes triangular, with 1-2 smaller lobes; petiole 1-3(10) cm long.  

Inflorescence of one bisexual flower at base of cyme of up to 60 male flowers; peduncle to 2 cm long; rachis 4-10 cm long. Bisexual flower: pedicel 18 mm long; calyx 20-30 mm long, ribbed, the lobes narrowly triangular with linear apices, unequal, 15-25 mm long; corolla stellate, 45-55 mm diam., purple; anthers 10-12 mm long. Male flowers similar: pedicels 10-15 mm long; calyx 7-18 mm long, the lobes 5-15 mm long; corolla broadly stellate, 35-40 mm diam.; anthers 8-11 mm long.  

Berry globular, slightly bilobed, 1.5-2 cm diam., pale green when ripe. Seeds 4-4.5 mm long, black. n=12.

Distribution and ecology

Known only from the Kalumburu Mission area, North Kimberley, W.A.; usually occurs on rocky quartzite outcrops.


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.

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 the relationships of this poorly known species were obscure, with it appearing to have no close relationship with the other andromonoecious species, except perhaps S. heteropodium .  ITS DNA studies by Martine et al. (2006) supported this suggestion with these two species forming 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.

Selected specimens

W.A.: Kalumburu, D.E. Symon 10188 (AD, PERTH).


Plant status, if any

Classified as Risk Code 2K (Briggs & Leigh, Rare or Threatened Australian Plants, 1995) and P3 (CALM Priority Flora Code 1994).

S. oedipus is still classified as Priority 3 - Poorly Known in the latest list (Atkins 2008).


Atkins, K.J. (2008). Declared Rare and Priority Flora List for Western Australia , 26 February 2008. (Dept of Environment and Conservation. Como , W.A.).

From the web

Limited information can be found on the FloraBase site.

The Solanaceae Source account for this species has yet to be written.