Photo: M. Fagg ANBG

Photo: M. Fagg ANBG

Line drawing by M. Szent Ivany J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4 (1981) 129, fig. 43.

Distribution map generated from Australia's Virtual Herbarium.


Solanum stelligerum Smith, Exotic Bot. 2: 57; t. 88 (1805)

T: "... native ... of New South Wales" ; LINN [Smith herbarium], microfiche 365.13. The plate of Solanum stelligerum can sometimes be seen on the web advertised in the Rare Prints market.  


S. lucorum Domin, Repert. Spec. Nov. Regni Veg. 12: 130 (1913).

T: Araucaria Ranges, Burnett River, F. Mueller s.n.; K, MEL.


Erect, sparingly clonal, woody shrub to 2 m, dark green, pubescent with stellate hairs; hairs sparse to absent on upper leaf-surface except along veins, dense on lower surface; prickles to 12 mm long, usually scattered on stems, less common or absent elsewhere.

Leaves lanceolate-elliptic; lamina 3–7 cm long, 1–2.5 cm wide, sometimes larger, discolorous, entire or margin irregular; petiole 5–20 mm long.  

Inflorescence 1–10–flowered; peduncle to 2 cm long; rachis up to 2 cm long; pedicels 1–2 cm long, slightly longer in fruit. Calyx 6–8 mm long; lobes narrowly triangular, 3–6 mm long. Corolla stellate, deeply incised, 20–25 mm diam., pale lilac to almost white. Anthers 4–5 mm long.

Fruiting calyx-lobes 7–8 mm long. Berry globular, 5–10 mm diam., bright red. Seeds 1.5–2 mm long, usually pale yellow. n=12.

Bean's more comprehensive description of this species can be seen at

Distribution and ecology

Occurs along the eastern coast of Qld and N.S.W. on coastal sand dunes, in Eucalypt forest and on rainforest margins. More inland Qld occurrences on the AVH generated map probably represent S. parvifolium rather than S. stelligerum.

Grows mainly in sandy loam, dune sand and basaltic soil, occasionally in clay.

Common name

Star nightshade, Devil's Needles


Part of the S. ferocissimum group of subgen. Leptostemonum (Bean 2004) and according to him, most closely related to S. parvifolium.

Symon (1981) considered it most closely related to S. corifolium F.Muell. with which it might hybridise; distinguished by more erect habit, denser tomentum, leaf shape and smaller fruit.



A variable species, particularly in south-eastern Qld.

Fruits eaten by Aborigines in coastal N.S.W. and the Brisbane area, but small quantities are recommended. The red fruits are also eaten by birds.

Selected specimens

Qld: D'Aguilar Range, V.K. Moriarty 1209 (AD, CANB); near Canungra, 19 Nov. 1972, K. Williams (BRI). N.S.W.: Ulladulla, 12 Dec. 1950, E.F. Constable (NSW).

From the web

Images of flowers, fruits and foliage can also be accessed through Bean's treatment of this species for easternAustralia at

Further images and 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 and fruits and leaves can be seen on the Brisbane Rainforest Action and Information Network site and there are some on the Bega Valley site accessible through

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