Solanum erianthum D. Don, Prodr. Fl. Nepal. 96 (1825)
T: Valley in Nepal near Kalamanda, 1821, Wallich Herb. 2616C; lecto: K, fide K.E. Roe, Brittonia 19: 359 (1967).
[ S. verbascifolium auct. non L.; G. Bentham, Fl. Austral. 4: 449 (1869)]
Shrub or small tree to 8 m, often with flattened, spreading crown, green or grey-green, densely pubescent with stellate hairs; prickles absent.
Leaves ovate-elliptic; lamina 8-24 cm long, 4-15 cm wide, slightly discolorous, entire; petiole 1-10 cm long.
Inflorescence branched, many-flowered; peduncle to first fork 3-8 cm long; pedicels 5-10 mm long. Calyx 4-7 mm long; lobes triangular, 1-2.5 mm long. Corolla stellate, 13-19 mm diam., white. Anthers 2.5-3 mm long.
Berry globular, 10 mm diam., dull yellow, pubescent. Seeds 1.5-2 mm long, dull yellow.
Distribution and ecology
Originally from tropical Central America, and now widespread in south-east Asia and to a less extent in west tropical Africa.
In 1982 documented as occuring in near-coastal eastern Australia in Qld and north-eastern N.S.W. The recently generated distribution map also shows (MEL) specimens from Arnhem Land.
Sometimes regarded as native to Australia, presumably because it was collected by Robert Brown from Broad Sound and Shoalwater Bay, but it is more likely to represent a pre-European settlement introduction - see A.R.Bean (2007). A new system for determining which plant species are indigenous in australia. Aust. Syst. Bot. 20: 1-43.
Usually associated with disturbed habitats in high rainfall areas.
Potato Tree, Tobacco Tree, Mullein Nightshade (USA).
A member of subg. Brevantherum, species of which are usually shrubby, have stellate hairs, and have many-branched corymbose inflorescences.
Other species of this group found in Australia are S. mauritianum and S. abutiloides.
Qld: N of Boonah, L.W. Jessup & M. Olsen 263 (BRI); Pine Mt, W.T. Jones 276 (CANB). N.S.W.: Whian Whian State Forest, H.C. Hayes, J. Turner, D.J. McGillivray 2599 (NSW).
From the web
A photograph of this species by Hugh & Nan Nicholson can be seen on the Terania Rainforest Publishing Photo Library site.
Further information on this species in NSW can be seen on the PlantNET site
References to this species as a weed can be found in the Global Compendium of Weeds.
A comprehensive fact sheet on S. erianthum in
Further information about this species in the US can be accessed through the Plants Profile site of the US Department of Agriculture.
Images of herbarium specimens can be found on the Solanaceae Source site.