Drawing by W.A.Smith reproduced with permission from Austrobaileya 6: 249 (2002).  

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum serpens A.R.Bean, Austrobaileya 6: 248 (2002)

T: Qld, Cainbable Creek track, Lamington NP, 11 Dec 1999, A.R.Bean 15903; holo: BRI; iso: CANB, MEL, NSW

Solanum stelligerum Sm. var. procumbens C.T.White, Proc. Roy. Soc.Queensland 55: 72(1944).

T: Lamington NP, 27th Nov. 1942, C.T.White 11889 (holo: BRI, 2 sheets).

Solanum sp. (Lamington, W.J.McDonald 6176) in Henderson, Names Distrib.Qld Pl . (2002).

S. stelligerum auct. non Sm.: Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4: 128 (1981), p.p., with respect to prostrate plants and type of var. procumbens C.T.White


Prostrate shrub with long runners, rooting at the nodes, with sporadic erect shoots to 30 cm high. Fertile branchlets terete, grey to rusty, tomentose, with dense (branchlet visible) stellate hairs, densely armed with prickles (15-35 per dm of branchlet), each 3-6 mm long, glabrous; stellate hairs sessile, 0.25-0.35 mm diameter, lateral rays porrect, 8, central ray 4- 9 times as long as laterals.

Adult leaves broadly ovate to elliptical, entire, 5.5-10 cm long, 2.6- 4.0 cm wide, 1.4-2.9 times longer than broad, apex acute or obtuse, often basally dimidiate, oblique part 0-3 mm long, obliqueness index 0-4%. Petioles 6-15 mm long, 10-19% length of lamina, prickles present. Upper leaf surface green, prickles often absent, sometimes present on midrib and secondary veins; stellate hairs distributed throughout lamina at least on developing leaves, often confined to major veins on fully expanded leaves, 0.3-0.5 mm diameter, sessile, sparse (>0.5 mm apart), lateral rays porrect, 7-8, central ray 3-6 times as long as laterals. Lower leaf surface white to rusty or greenish, prickles absent; stellate hairs very dense (obscuring leaf surface) or dense (leaf surface not obscured), 0.3-0.4 mm across, sessile, lateral rays porrect, 7-8, central ray of most hairs 3-5 times as long as laterals, some with central ray much shorter.

Inflorescences cymose, pseudo-umbellate or with short axis, 1-4 flowered, some flowers functionally male, prickles present or absent on pedicels. Pedicels 11-28 mm long at anthesis. Flowers 5-merous. Calyx densely stellate-hairy, hairs 0.3-0.4 mm diameter, transparent, lateral rays 7-8, central ray 2-5 times as long as laterals. Prickles absent from calyx. Hypanthium campanulate, 1.5-2.5 mm long at anthesis; lobes attenuate, 4-7 mm long at anthesis. Corolla purple, 20-25 mm diameter, lobes 6-10 mm long. Anthers 3.5-5.5 mm long. Filaments 0.6-1 mm long, glabrous. Ovary with stipitate glandular and stellate hairs on distal half, stellate hairs c. 0.5 mm diameter, central ray 2-3 times as long as laterals. Functional style 7.5-8 mm long, erect, with stellate hairs on proximal half, 0.5-0.7 mm diameter, lateral rays 8-9, central ray 1-2 times as long as laterals; stigma entire.

Mature fruits 1-2 per inflorescence, globular, 14-16 mm diameter, yellow-green, glabrous, septum absent with placenta confined to central area of fruit; pericarp 0.6-0.8 mm thick when fresh. Pedicels 20-32 mm long. Seeds 3.5-4.0 mm long, pale yellow.

This description is the original description of the species by Bean reproduced with permission from Austrobaileya 6: 248 (2002). A detailed description by Bean can also be found at

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in complex notophyll rainforest at higher elevations in the Lamington NP and on Mt Tamborine in Qld and in lowland areas between Currumbin and Byron Bay in the NSW/Qld border area.

Flowers: Oct-April; fruits March-April.


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


Bean (2004) documents S. serpens as being variable in morphology and records that intermediate forms do exist between it and S. acanthodapis .

Both S. serpens and S. acanthodapis are unusual in being prostrate. They differ from each other by


Derivation of epithet

From serpens, Latin for creeping or snake-like, a reference to the long trailing stems of this species.

Selected specimens

NSW: Brunswick Heads Nature Reserve, Oct 2000, A.R.Bean 16929 (BRI); Brunswick Heads, Jul 1969, R.Coveny 1331 et al. (NSW); Three Mile Scrub, near Byron Bay, Nov 1898, Forsyth (NSW); Levers Plateau, Apr 1972, R.Henderson H1299 (BRI); Byron Bay, Nov 1903, J.H.Maiden & Boorman (NSW).


QLD: above Cainbable Creek Falls, Lamington N.P., Jan 2000, A.R.Bean 15961 (BRI); Romeo Lahey Monument, Lamington N.P., Mar 2000, A.R.Bean 16133 (BRI, NSW); track to Pat’s Bluff, Lamington N.P., Mar 2001, A.R.Bean 17384 (BRI); Nicholls scrub, c. 6 km SW of Currumbin, Mar 2001, A.R.Bean 17398 (BRI); Cainbable Ck track, Lamington N.P., Nov 1995, W.McDonald 6176 (BRI); Tamborine Mtn, Easter 1888, Simmonds 346 (BRI); Numinbah, Apr 1935, C.T.White 10232 (BRI); Currumbin scrubs, Sep 1912, C.T.White s.n. (BRI); Head of Little Nerang R., Jan 1916, C.T.White s.n. (BRI).


All cited by Bean in the original description of the species in Austrobaileya 6: 250 (2002).

From the web

Images of S. serpens can be accessed through Bean's description of this species at

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.