Solanum shirleyanum Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 578 (1929)

T: Tamborine Mts, Mar. 1910, K.Domin s.n.; holo: PR (2 sheets)

S. corifolium auct. non Domin: Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4: 135 (1981), p.p.


Erect, rhizomatous perennial shrub, 0.6-1.8 m high. Juvenile branchlets with 1-20 prickles per dm; leaves (in outline) lanceolate or elliptical or ovate, entire or shallowly-lobed, with 2-3 pairs of lobes; lamina 9-10 cm long, 3-4.2 cm wide, with 2-8 prickles on upper surface. Adult branchlets yellow or brown; prickles absent or present, 0-6 per decimetre, straight, acicular or broad-based, 2-5 mm long, 6-12 times longer than wide; stellae dense to very dense, 0.25-0.4 mm diameter, stalks 0-0.1 mm long; lateral rays 6-8, porrect; central ray 0.5-3 times as long as laterals, not gland-tipped; finger hairs absent; Type 2 hairs absent.

Adult leaves elliptical or ovate, entire; lamina 4-11 cm long, 1.5-4 cm wide, 2-3 times longer than broad, apex acute or acuminate, rarely obtuse; base cuneate, oblique part 0-3.5 mm long, obliqueness index 0-3 percent; petioles 0.25-1.3 cm long, 5-12% length of lamina, prickles absent. Upper leaf surface green; prickles 0-5, straight, acicular, 4-6 mm long, prickles absent or present on mid-vein only; stellate hairs confined to midrib, or distributed throughout; proto-stellae absent; ordinary stellae very sparse, 0.8-4 mm apart, 0.3-0.4 mm across, sessile; lateral rays 6-8, porrect; central ray 1-2 times as long as laterals, not gland-tipped; finger hairs absent; Type 2 hairs absent. Lower leaf surface green or greenish-white; prickles absent; stellae dense, 0.1-0.3 mm apart, 0.3-0.5 mm diameter, sessile; lateral rays 7 or 8, porrect; central ray 1-4 times as long as laterals, not gland-tipped; finger hairs absent; Type 2 hairs absent.

Inflorescence supra-axillary, pseudo-umbellate, common peduncle absent; 2-9-flowered, with all flowers bisexual and 5-merous; pedicels 7-17 mm long at anthesis, same thickness throughout, 0.2-0.3 mm thick at mid-point, prickles absent. Calyx tube 2-3 mm long, lobes elliptic, 0.3-1 mm long; prickles absent at anthesis; stellae sparse to moderate, transparent, 0.15-0.25 mm across, sessile, lateral rays 5-7, central ray 1-1.5 times as long as laterals, not gland-tipped; finger hairs absent; Type 2 hairs absent or present. Corolla mauve, 7-9 mm long, deeply lobed, inner surface glabrous; anthers 3.5-4.5 mm long; ovary with Type 2 hairs only; functional style 5.5-7 mm long, erect, glabrous.

Fruiting calyx with lobes less than half length of mature fruit, prickles absent. Mature fruits 1 or 2 per inflorescence, globular, 3.5-6 mm diameter, red, glabrous or with a few scattered Type 2 hairs, 1-locular (septum absent or incomplete); placenta not apparent; mesocarp juicy, succulent; exocarp 0.1-0.2 mm thick; pedicels 13-21 mm long in fruit, 0.4-0.7 mm thick at mid-point; seeds pale yellow, 2.6-3 mm long.  

Bean's description of S. shirleyanum in Austrobaileya 6: 694 (2004), reproduced with permission.

Another detailed description of this species by Bean can be found at 

Distribution and ecology

Solanum shirleyanum is found in high rainfall areas of SE Queensland, extending just over the border intoNE NSW .

It is found on the margins of rainforest where Eucalyptus grandis is often prominent; other associated species may include Caldcluvia paniculosa and Callicoma serratifolia.

Flowers October to April; mature fruits February to July.

Common name

Shirley's nightshade


Part of the S. ferocissimum group of subgen. Leptostemonum according to Bean (2004), together with its putative parents,S. stelligerum and S. corifolium (see Note).



Considered by the author of the species to be a hybrid between S. stelligerum and S. corifolium . However Bean (2004) considered it to be a good species forming uniform populations which flower and fruit and occur in areas where the putative parents are absent.

S. shirleyanum differs from both S. corifolium and S. stelligerum by its smaller fruits.

Derivation of epithet

Presumably named for John Francis Shirley (1849-1922), a Queensland collector of plants, teacher and scientist.

Selected specimens

QLD: WIDE BAY DISTRICT: Gympie, undated, Kenny s.n. (BRI); Peters Ck valley, Conondale Range S.F., above Funnel Hut site, Oct 1982, McDonald 3627 (BRI); Goods Rd, S.F.274 Conondale, Feb 1991, McDonald 4720 (BRI); Lenthalls Dam scrub, S.F.1294, Oct 1995, P.Forster PIF17915 (BRI); S.F.783, 4 km NW of Montville, May 2001, P.Forster PIF27114 (BRI). MORETON DISTRICT: Maroochie, Oct 1874, Bailey s.n.  (BRI); Mt Tamborine, 1888, Simmonds s.n. (BRI); Palmwoods, May 1907, C.T.White s.n. (BRI); Currumbin, 1912, O’Brien s.n. (BRI); eastern foothills of Darlington Range, Upper Ormeau Rd, off Pacific Hwy, Apr 1984, Williams 84028 (BRI); Bahr’s Scrub, 5 km SW of Beenleigh, Feb 2001, A.R.Bean 17371 (BRI, NSW); Armitage Creek road, Canungra Army Reserve, 7 km SE of Canungra, Feb 2001, A.R.Bean 17382 (BRI); Rosins Lookout Conservation Park, Beechmont, Jul 2001, P.Forster PIF27494 et al. (BRI). NSW: NORTH COAST: Tyalgum Ridge, Macpherson Range, c. 25 km WNW of Murwillumbah, Dec 1977, L. Haegi 1529 (NSW); 1.1 km along South Chowan road, Nullum S.F., S of Murwillumbah, Apr 2001, A.R.Bean 17558 (BRI).

Specimens cited by Bean in Austrobaileya 6: 695 (2004)

From the web

Images of S. shirleyanum can be accessed through Bean's treatment of the eastern Australian species of Solanum at

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.