O'Reilly's, Qld. Photo:  G. Leiper G. Leiper

Photo: G. Leiper G. Leiper

Photo: G. Leiper G. Leiper

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 126, fig. 41.

Stamens and pistil, drawn by D.Symon. Fig. 162A in J. Adelaide Bot.Gard. 4: 345 (1981). S. mitchellianum has only stellate hairs on the ovary if there are any present at all.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum semiarmatum F.Muell., Fragm. Phyt. Austral. 2(15): 163 (1861).


T: Ad flumenClarence River. Dr. Beckler; holo: MEL 12130; iso: K, NSW fide Symon (1981).  



Erect clonal shrub to 2 m, dark green, pubescent with stellate and minute glandular hairs; hairs sparse on upper leaf-surface, dense on lower surface; prickles to 15 mm long, abundant on stems, petioles and lower peduncle, usually less common elsewhere.

Leaves mostly discolorous, variable; lower, deeply lobed leaves ovate, the lamina 10–20 cm long, 6–15 cm wide; petiole to 8 cm long; upper, entire to shallowly lobed leaves elliptic-lanceolate, the lamina mostly 6–9 cm long, 2–5 cm wide, sometimes larger; petiole to 3 cm long.  

Inflorescence 5–30–flowered; peduncle 1.5–6 cm long to first fork; rachis often branched, to 5 cm long; pedicels 3–10 mm long. Calyx 4–7 mm long; lobes narrowly triangular, 2–3 mm long. Corolla stellate, deeply incised, 1–2 cm diam., bluish-purple. Anthers 3–4.5 mm long.  

Berry globular, 8–12 mm diam., dark red to black. Seeds 2–2.5 mm long, pale brown. n=12.

A DELTA-generated description by Bean can be accessed at

Distribution and ecology

Previously treated as widespread in south-eastern Qld and far north-eastern N.S.W., but now (Bean 2004) considered to be confined to the area between Lamington NP in SE Qld and Kyogle inNE NSW. Specimens from the previously wider distribution are now referred to S. mitchellianum and represent the more northern collections shown on the AVH generated map.

Common on rainforest margins, along creek banks in vine and wet sclerophyll forests, often at altitudes above 800 m. Flowering September to May; fruiting January to May.

Common name

Devil's whiskers


S. mitchellianum was previously treated as part of S. semiarmatum but is now considered by Bean (2004) to be distinct by its

The two species overlap in distribution in SE Qld andNE NSW but S. mitchellianum has a wider distribution into Qld occurring as far north as Springsure.

Part of the S. semiarmatum group of subgen. Leptostemonum according to Bean (2004), together with S. coracinum and S. mitchellianum .


Selected specimens

Queensland. DARLING DOWNS DISTRICT: Wilsons Peak, May 1933, Michael s.n. (BRI); 6 km from Mt Colliery towards Gambubal S.F., E of Warwick, Apr 1999, Bean 14802 (BRI, MEL); Killarney– The Head road, 7.1 km NE of Queen Mary Falls, Jan 2002, Bean 18332 (BRI, MEL, NSW). MORETON DISTRICT: Mt Mistake, Jun 1887, Simmonds s.n. (BRI); Mt Lindesay, Oct 1921, White s.n. (BRI); Beech Mountain, Apr 1923, White 1927 (BRI); Roberts Plateau, Lamington N.P., May 1929, White 6072 (BRI); Levers Plateau, c. 90 km SSW of Brisbane, Apr 1972, Henderson H1298 (BRI); 3.3 km along Duck Creek Road, near O’Reilly’s Guest House, Mar 2001, Bean 17388 (BRI). New South Wales. NORTH COAST: Toonumbar S.F., c. 26 km NW of Kyogle, Feb 1972, Henderson H1260A & Parham (BRI); lower slopes of Mt Lindesay, 7 miles [11 km] ENE of Woodenbong, Sep 1972, R.Coveny 4544 & Rodd (BRI, NSW); Old Grevillea–Bundgeam road, 25 km NW of Kyogle, Dec 1977, L.Haegi 1538 (BRI, NSW). 

Specimens cited in Bean (2004, p. 715) are reproduced here because earlier accounts of S. semiarmatum included specimens now attributed to S. mitchellianum .

From the web

A series of photographs of S. semiarmatum can be accessed through Bean's Solanum site at

Other images can be seen on the Toowoomba Plants site.

Further information on this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site.

A photograph of this species by Hugh & Nan Nicholson can be seen on the Terania Rainforest Publishing Photo Library site.

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