Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 7 (1985), fig. 1.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Lycianthes shanesii (F.Muell.)A.R.Bean, Austrobaileya 6: 568 (2003).


Solanum shanesii F. Muell., Fragm. 6: 144 (1868); D.E.Symon &Clarkson J. Adelaide Bot. Gardens 7: 201-206 (1985).


Type citation: “Ad rivulos montium prope Rockhampton; Dallachy & O’Shanesy.”; Type specimens: P. O'Shanesy no. 6 ser. 1, 25 Feb 1868, Rockh. (lecto: MEL 12404, fide Symon (1981) in J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 3: 136); Dallachy 435, 17 March 1865, Rockhampton (syn: MEL, K).


Capsicum annuum auct. non L.: Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 3 :136 (1981), p.p.; Purdie et al., Flora of Australia 29: 178 (1982), p.p - in the first of these the species was referred merely to C. annuum but in the second reference it was referred to C. annuum var. annuum.


A tall shrub or small tree (4-) 6–7 (-8) m, bark with abundant lenticels, unarmed, indumentum of sparse simple, eglandular hairs, glabrescent.

Leaves (3.5-) 8 (-11)  (2.5-) 6 (-8) cm, ovate-acuminate, base rounded, oblique, often geminate, smaller leaf about ¾ the size of larger, exposed leaves may have undulate margin and primary veins coloured purple; petiole (1-) 1.5 (-3) cm long.  

Inflorescence 1–2 (-3) pedicellate flowers from leaf axil in uppermost branches. Flowers of two kinds: apparently hermaphrodite, long-styled flowers and apparently male, short style flowers. Pedicel c. 8 mm, gradually enlarged upwards. Calyx truncate with (4-) 5 short rounded lobes, acumens rarely developed. Corolla deeply stellate, (4-) 5-partite, early flowers with a long style, later flowers with a short style; tube c. 2 mm long, lobes 7–8 mm long, elliptic, mid-portion relatively thick, margins (inter-acuminal tissue) narrow and slightly infolded, the whole strongly reflexed at anthesis, apex distinctly inflexed, bluish-purple to deep purple with an almost brown mid-vein on ageing. Filaments c. 1.5 mm long, broadly flattened towards base. Anthers 4–5 mm long, oblong, slightly tapered, opening by apical pores, well exserted, erect in a cone, in male flowers the lower anther on a longer filament. Ovary c. 1.3 mm diam., ovoid, glabrous. Style of fruiting flowers c. 6 mm long, simple, erect, glabrous, exceeding anthers; stigmatic region attenuate, swollen and spindle- shaped, possibly bifid or partially so; male flowers with style 4 mm long, not exceeding anthers. Fruiting pedicel 2–3.5 cm long, distinctly enlarged distally; calyx patelliform.  

Berry 1–1.7 cm diam., sub-globular, bright shiny red. Seeds 3.5 mm diam., flattened, margin distinctly thickened, surface shallowly reticulate, buff coloured. n = 12.

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in northern Qld from Torres Strait to theGladstone area.


Common understorey element of deciduous or semi-deciduous closed forest pockets in the Byerstown Range area.


The apparent disjunction between the early collections from near Rockhampton and later collections much further north, commented on by Symon & Clarkson (1985), indicated undercollecting of the species to that time.


1. First described by Mueller as Solanum shanesii, Symon (1981) and Purdie et al. (1982) treated this species as part of Capsicum annuum. With further collections, in 1985 Symon & Clarkson reinstated the original name for this species, placing it close to South American species of section Lycianthes.


Lycianthes is now generally accepted as a genus in the New World and the required combination to treat the only Australian species as a Lycianthes species rather than a Solanum species, was made by Bean (Austrobaileya 6: 568) in 2003.


2. Symon & Clarkson also noted another collection belonging to Lycianthes (Heatwole s.n., 24.vii.1969, BRI) found at Restoration Rock, near Cape Weymouth, 12º38’Lat., 143º26’Long., Qld. It appeared to be different from S. shanesii but more material was required. Whether this specimen is now considered to be part of the variation of the now more widely distributed L. shanesii is unknown.

Selected specimens

Qld: 11.7 km north of Palmer River on Peninsula Development Road, 14 March 1983, J. Clarkson 4585 (AD, BRI, CANB, F, K, L, MEL, MO, NSW, PERTH, QRS, US).


From the web

Presently there is only limited information and links for this species on the Solanaceae Source site.