Graces Hut, ?NSW. Photo: G. Leiper G. Leiper

Photo: M. Fagg M. Fagg

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 229, fig. 99.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.  


Solanum prinophyllum Dunal, in DC., Prodr. 13(1): 296 (1852) 

T: Port Jackson, New Holland, Gaudichaud s.n.; holo: G, microfiche AD. 

S. armatum R. Br., Prodr. 446 (1810), nom. illeg., non Forsskal, Fl. Aegyptiaco-Arabico 47 (1775). 

T: Port Jackson area, N.S.W., 1803–1805, R. Brown s.n.; holo: BM; iso: K. An image of the Brown collection can be seen on the Solanaceae Source site.

S. armatum var. cultum Dunal, in DC., Prodr. 13(1): 295 (1852). 

T: `In horto Monspel. cultum'; holo: MPU; iso: K, photo AD.


Sprawling, annual or short-lived perennial herb with stems to 45 cm long, dark green or purplish-green; sparsely pubescent with minute stellate hairs, the young growing points also with minute glandular hairs; prickles to 10 mm long, few on peduncle and pedicel, frequent on most other parts.  

Leaves elliptic to lanceolate-elliptic; lamina mostly 5–8 cm long, 3–5 cm wide, sometimes larger, concolorous, deeply lobed; lobe margins toothed or lobed; petiole 5–15 mm long.  

Inflorescence short, 1–6–flowered; peduncle 1–10 mm long; pedicels usually 8–10 mm long, slightly longer in fruit. Calyx 5–7 mm long; lobes narrowly triangular, 1–4 mm long, the veins prominent. Corolla campanulate, 10–15 mm long; limb broadly stellate; lilac-blue. Anthers 2–2.5 mm long.  

Berry globular or obovoid, 15–20 mm diam., drab green or purple when ripe; fruiting pedicels 10–20 mm long. Seeds 2–3 mm long, ivory or pale yellow. n=12.

A DELTA-generated description for this species can be seen at

Distribution and ecology

Previously (Symon 1981) S. prinophyllum was treated as occuring along the Great Dividing Range from south-eastern Qld to eastern Vic. Northern populations (Conondale Ranges in Qld to Wauchope in NSW) are now referred to S. vicinum Bean (q.v.) and S. prinophyllum occupies the range S of Wauchope. Both species are shown on the AVH generated map shown above. 

Usually associated with rainforest or Eucalypt woodland, often in disturbed areas.

Common name

(Southern) Forest nightshade


Part of the S. hystrix group of subgen. Leptostemonum according to Bean (2004).



In the Symon (1981) and Purdie et al. (1982) treatments plants from northern areas of the range of this species were described as more erect and prickly, the leaves often more pubescent, with stellate and glandular hairs, and approaching S. cookii Symon and S. campanulatum R. Br. These specimens have now (Bean 2004) been described as a new species, S. vicinum A.R.Bean.


S. prinophyllum and S. vicinum differ by

·         denser prickles (90-180 per 10 cm) of S. vicinum compared with S. prinophyllum (30-65)

·         inflorescences 3-8-flowered for S. vicinum compared with 1-3-flowered for S. prinophyllum

·         peduncle without flowers for up to 8 mm in S. vicinum compared with flowers for the whole length in S. prinophyllum

·         corolla 2-4 cm diameter in S. vicinum compared with 1-2 cm diameter in S. prinophyllum


S. prinophyllum s.s. is closely related to S. pungetium R. Br. and Bean notes that the two are difficult to distinguish. He lists differences for NSW populations as

·         leaves and branches of S. prinophyllum glabrous to sparsely hairy, moderately to densely hairy for S. pungetium

·         the stellate hairs or the upper leaf surface are different in their composition - those of S. prinophyllum have 6-8 lateral arms while those of S. pungetium have 4-5

·         leaves, pedicels and calyces of S. prinophyllum have more prickles than S. pungetium

·         the lobes of the leaves of S. prinophyllum are themselves lobed, whereas they are not in S. pungetium

He further notes that Victorian populations of S. prinophyllum exhibit a different range of variation from the above and so this classification may need to be revisited.

Selected specimens

NSW:  Mt Tomah, 26 Mar 1952, M.Tindale & Constable s.n. (AD, NSW); near Broulee, L. Haegi 1758 (AD, NSW); Vic.: near Lakes Entrance, A.C. Beauglehole 37807 (MEL); Gippsland, 5 Apr. 1872, A. Morrison (CANB).

From the web

Further information and images of S. prinophyllum in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site and also on their Ecology of Cumberland Plain Woodland site.

Images of this species can be accessed through

A photograph of this species by Hugh & Nan Nicholson can be seen on the Terania Rainforest Publishing Photo Library site, there is an image of the fruit and leaves on the Bega Valley site accessible through and images on the Yarra Ranges Shire Council site through the Yarra Ranges Plant Directory

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