Latin Name: Solanum americanum
Description: A herb. It grows 30-150 cm high. It is an annual plant. The leaves are oval and 5-10 cm long by 2-2.5 cm wide. The leaves vary is shape in different locations. The flowers are in the axils of leaves. The black fruit is soft, round and glossy, 5-6 mm across.
Edibility Rating out of 5: 1
Medicinal Rating out of 5: 0
Edible Uses: Young leaves – cooked. The leaves contain about 6990mg of beta carotene per 100g. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity. Fruit – cooked. It should be used only when fully ripe. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.
Warnings: Research indicating the presence of toxic glycoalkaloids prompted a warning to be careful on the use of S.americanum as herbal medicine and food. The green fruit is particularly poisonous. Ripe berries and foliage may also cause poisoning. This is via high levels of the glycoalkaloids, solanine and solamargine, as well as the tropane alkaloids scopolamine (hyoscine) and hyoscyamine (an isomer of atropine).
Significant amounts of solasodine(0.65%) have also been found in the green berries. Eating unripe berries has caused the death of children. The ripe fruit also contains 0.3-0.45% solasonine. Toxicity varies widely depending on the variety and the location, and poisonous plant experts advise: “…unless you are certain that the berries are from an edible strain, leave them alone.”