Electronic Flora of South Australia
Electronic Flora of South Australia
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Electronic Flora of South Australia family Fact Sheet


Alternative names: Not Applicable

Annual or perennial herbs, shrubs or small trees, glabrous or pubescent, often with branched or stellate hairs; prickles sometimes present; leaves alternate, sometimes almost opposite, sometimes clustered, simple to compound, exstipulate.

Flowers solitary or borne in simple or compound cymose inflorescences often aggregated into compound sometimes leafy inflorescences terminal to main branches or by modification of branching pseudo-axillary, interfoliar or leaf-opposed; flowers actinomorphic or zygomorphic, bisexual or rarely unisexual; calyx tubular to campanulate with 5 rarely 3-9 lobes, persistent; corolla sympetalous, rotate (with a short-tube), campanulate, funnel-shaped, tubular or salver-shaped, with 5 rarely 3-9 lobes; corolla lobes valvate, plicate, imbricate or induplicate (with the margin overlapping) in bud; stamens usually 5 or 4, rarely 1, 2, 3 or up to 8, often unequal in length, inserted on the corolla and alternating with the corolla lobes; anthers 2-locular or unilocular, sometimes cohering, dehiscing by longitudinal slits or terminal pores; ovary superior, 2-5-celled, usually on a hypogynous disk; ovules usually numerous, sometimes few; placentation axile; style simple; stigma capitate or shortly 2-lobed.

Fruit a fleshy or somewhat dry berry, or a capsule dehiscing regularly or irregularly; seeds usually numerous, sometimes few, more or less reniform to suborbicular, often flattened; embryo coiled or curved or straight, surrounded by endosperm.

Distribution:  A cosmopolitan family of about 90 genera and more than 2,000 species with its main centre in South America.

Biology: No text

Uses: The Solanaceae contain many species of importance in agriculture, ornamental horticulture and as weeds. Important crop plants include chili and mild peppers Capsicum annuum, tree tomato Cyphomandra betacea, tomato Lycopersicon esculentum, Cape gooseberry Physalis peruviana, potato Solanum tuberosum, eggplant S. melongena, and tobacco Nicotiana tabacura. Widely grown ornamentals include species of Brugmansia, Cestrum, Nicotiana, Nierembergia, Petunia, Salpiglossis, Schizanthus, Solandra, Solanum and Streptosolon. Weedy genera include Datura, Lycium, Nicotiana, Physalis and Solanum. Alkaloids which are often toxic if consumed are present especially in the foliage, flowers and immature fruits of species of all genera. Some are important in the pharmaceutical industry, the most notable being solasodine, extracted from the Australian species Solanum aviculare for the manufacture of the contraceptive pill. (Purdie et al., (1982) Flora of Australia 29:t-208.)

Taxonomic notes: The family is closely related to the Scrophulariaceae but anatomically distinct from related families by having bicollateral vascular bundles, that is, with phloem on both sides of the xylem, and by the oblique orientation of the dissepiment.

Key to Genera:
1. Anthers dehiscing by terminal pores or slits
1. Anthers dehiscing by slits running the full length of the anthers
2. Stamens 4 (staminodes may be present)
3. Anthers 2-celled; leaves in clusters or if borne singly corolla 19-27 mm long
4. Fruit a capsule; corolla lobes narrow-acute
4. Fruit a berry; corolla lobes broad and rounded
3. Anthers 1-celled; leaves borne singly; corolla less than 15 mm long
5. Fruit a berry; branchlets essentially glabrous
5. Fruit a capsule; branchlets with indumentum of branched or glandular hairs
2. Stamens 5
6. Fruit a capsule
7. Capsule 20 mm long or more, spiny or tuberculate
7. Capsule less than 20 mm long, smooth or nearly so
8. Calyx enlarged after flowering, teeth spiny; apex of capsule circumscissile
8. Calyx not greatly enlarged, teeth not spiny
9. Flowers tubular, more than 2 cm long; corolla white or yellow; herbs (Nicotiana glauca a shrub)
9. Flowers less than 2 cm long; corolla white with purple striations; shrubs
6. Fruit a berry
10. Calyx enlarged in fruit, mostly enclosing the berry
11. Ripe berry bright-red; fruits closely clustered
11. Ripe berry shades of yellow or green; fruits solitary or few
12. Calyx lobes sagittate at the base; flower blue
12. Calyx lobes not sagittate at the base; flower purple or yellowish
13. Flowers in cymes; corolla purple; calyx not ribbed; prickly plant
13. Flowers solitary; corolla yellowish, with darker blotches; calyx strongly ribbed; unarmed plant
10. Calyx not or scarcely enlarged in fruit
14. Spinescent shrubs; leaves somewhat fleshy; corolla whitish to lavender with purple markings; berry orange-red
14. Unarmed herb, shrub or climber; leaves scarcely fleshy; corolla white or yellowish
15. Shrub; corolla tubular; flowers in a panicle or a raceme; berry black
15. Herb or climber; corolla urceolate or rotate; flowers solitary or in a monochasial cyme; fruit red or white
16. Climbing or scrambling; leaves entire; corolla urn-shaped; flower solitary, white
16. Herb; leaves imparipinnate; corolla deeply lobed, yellow

Author: Prepared by L. Haegi & D. E. Symon except where indicated

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