Tom Price, WA. Photo: A. Robinson A. Robinson

Hamersleys, WA. Photo: W.R. Barker W.R. Barker

Bisexual flower below male flower (Hamersleys, WA). Photo: W.R. Barker W.R. Barker

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gards 4 (1981) 271, fig. 121.

Line drawing of fruit and remnant inflorescence by D.E. Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gards 4 (1981), fig. 157C.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.  


Solanum phlomoides Cunn. ex Benth., Fl. Austral. 4: 464 (1868) 

T: Enderby Island, N.W. Coast, W.A., A. Cunningham s.n.; lecto: K; iso: BM, G, MEL, fide D.E. Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4: 270 (1981); Hamersley Range, W.A., Maitland Brown s.n.; syn: K.

An image of the isolectotype collection in BM can be seen on the Solanaceae Source site.


Rounded, clonal shrub to 2 m, grey-green, occasionally rusty-green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; prickles to 8 mm long, usually abundant on stems and petioles, and on pedicels and calyx of bisexual flower, less common to absent elsewhere.

Leaves elliptic to ovate-elliptic, the lamina mostly 4-7 cm long, 1.5-4 cm wide, concolorous, entire; petiole 1-2 cm long. Juvenile leaves ovate-lanceolate, up to 12 cm long, 5 cm wide, entire or slightly undulate.

Inflorescence of one bisexual flower below cyme of 12-20 male flowers; peduncle 5-15 mm long. Bisexual flower: pedicels to 25 mm long; calyx 15-23 mm long, the lobes narrowly triangular, 10-16 mm long, lengthened in fruit; corolla broadly stellate to almost rotate, 40-50 mm diam., deep purple; anthers 7-8 mm long. Male flowers: pedicels c. 10 mm long; calyx 10-13 mm long; the lobes broadly lanceolate, 6-10 mm long, often partly fused; corolla rotate, 20-40 mm diam., purple; anthers 6-8 mm long.

Berry globular, 25-40 mm diam., yellow when ripe, drying nearly black; fruiting pedicel 20-25 mm long; fruiting calyx lobes 20-35 mm long. Seeds 4-5 mm long, black. n=12.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in the drier central areas of W.A. and adjacent offshore islands through to the southern Kimberley. It is usually associated with spinifex sand-plains, at base of rocky outcrops and in rocky gullies.


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 S. phlomoides was most closely related to S. beaugleholei and S. chippendalei amongst the andromonoecious species. The ITS DNA studies of Martine et al. (2006) indicated that S. phlomoides, together with S. chippendalei, S. beaugleholei, S. diversiflorum 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.


Germination studies for mine regeneration or the native food industry indicated that seed of this species did not require any pretreatments in order for germination to occur.


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.


Selected specimens

W.A.: Barlee Range, R.D. Royce 6575 (PERTH); 21 km S of Robe River crossing, D.E. Symon 5417 (AD2 sheets, CANB, NSW, PERTH).

From the web

Further information and images can be found on the FloraBase site.

Limited information and links for this species can be found on the Solanaceae Source site.