Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 57, fig 10, as S. callium .

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum spirale Roxb., Fl. Ind. 2:247 (1824).

T: India. Silhet, Wallich cat. no 2619a; lecto: K; isolecto: BM, K, ?MPU (fragment ex G-DC); fide Knapp (2002). An image of the isolectotype sheet in BM can be seen on the Solanaceae Source site.

Solanum apoense Elmer, Leafl. Philipp. Bot. 2: 730 (1910);

T: Philippines, Mindanao: Davao District, Todaya (Mt Apo), Aug. 1909, Elmer 11599; holo: NY; iso: MO, US

Solanum superficiens Adelb., Blumea 6: 331 (1948).

T: Indonesia; W. Java, Priangan, Kartamana Estate, 20 Sep 1911, Smith 641; holo: L.

Solanum callium C. White ex R. Henderson, Austrobaileya 1: 13 (1977)

T: c. 35 km NW of Kyogle, N.S.W., Dec. 1968, R.J.F. Henderson H489; holo: BRI 178893; iso: BRI, CANB, K, NSW.

The synonymy cited here follows that of Knapp (2002).

This species was treated as S. callium in Symon (1981) and in the Flora of Australia account (Purdie et al. 1982). It was also treated as Solanum aff. antillarum by Symon (1985) in his treatment of the Papua New Guinea species of Solanum and it is probably the species referred to as S. superficiens in Jacobs & Pickard (1981).


Shrub to 3 m, green, glabrous except for simple hairs mainly in tufts in axils of main veins of lower leaf-surface; prickles absent.

Leaves lanceolate-elliptic; lamina 7–18 cm long, 2–2.5 cm wide, concolorous, entire; petiole 1–2.5 cm long, grooved above, narrowly winged almost to base.

Inflorescence short, 5–10 (occasionally to 30)-flowered; peduncle 2–10 mm long; pedicels 10–15 mm long, slightly longer in fruit. Calyx 2–3 mm long; lobes rounded, 0.5–1 mm long. Corolla deeply incised, to 15 mm diam., white. Anthers 2–3 mm long.

Berry globular, 10–15 mm diam., bright orange-yellow. Seeds 3–4 mm long, light yellow-brown, the margin slightly thickened. n=24.

A further description of this species is given by Bean under the name S. spirale; see

Distribution and ecology

Occurs in far south-eastern Qld and north-eastern N.S.W. in basaltic soil, on tracks, roads and clearings in rainforest. This was thought to possibly be introduced to Australia but its origin was unknown (Symon 1981).


Knapp (2002) gives the distribution of S. spirale as palaeotropical, recordings its occurrence in mid-elevation forests from south China to Queensland.


It is widely used in India , Thailand and Laos where leaves and berries, usually cooked, are eaten; the roots are used as a narcotic and diuretic; and the bark is used as febrifuge. There is no record of it being used for any purpose in the rest of its distributional range and whether it is native or not in Australia is uncertain (Knapp 2002).


A member of subgenus Solanum which includes the "nigrum" group and is typefied by the members being small shrubs with umbelliform inflorescenses.

S. spirale and S. pseudocapsicum are the only representatives of sect. Geminata which occur in Australia; while both have yellow-orange berries they are not closely related to each other and can be distinguished by the deflexed fruiting pedicels of S. spirale, erect in S. pseudocapsicum (Knapp 2002). For further comments see the Solanaceae Source site.


Knapp (2002) has established that the name S. spirale applies to this species. It was earlier treated by Symon (1981) as S. callium and it was thought that the species might be an introduction to Australia. In his later treatment for Papua New Guinea, Symon (1985) referred to it as S. aff. antillarum and in more recent times Bean has treated is as S. spirale Roxb. (see


Selected specimens

Qld: near Rathdowney, V.K. Moriarty 1680 (BRI, CANB). N.S.W.: Tweed district, A.G. Floyd 384 (NSW); Toonumbar State Forest, R. Henderson 1259 & J.W. Parham (AD).

Plant status, if any

This species (as S. callium) is listed as Rare under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act, 1992.

From the web

Images of S. spirale can be accessed through

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

The United States Department of Agriculture Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN) has numerous links for this species.