Solanum aethiopicum seeds
Solanum aethiopicum, Ethiopian nightshade seeds
Solanum aethiopicum is a fruiting plant commonly referre to as Ethiopian nightshade, nakati, mock tomato or garden eggs. Other common names include bitter tomato, African eggplant and khamen akhaba in India. Its synonyms include Solanum ambrosiacum Vell, Solanum aurantiacum Sendtn, Solanum brieyi De Wild, Solanum elskensii De Wild, Solanum geminifolium Thonn, Solanum gilo Raddi and Solanum giorgii De Wild. The plant belongs to Solanaceae family and genus Solanum. It is a type of perennial plant characterised by less woody stem. Solanum aethiopicum is native to wild tropical Africa and South America; specifically Brazil. However, this species is less domesticated in south France and Italy. Recently, the plant species has spread to sub-Saharan Africa and other parts of South America.
Being a plant that does well in tropical wet-dry climate, it is grown annually in a moderate climatic zone. The mock tomato does well on annual daytime temperatures ranging from 200c-300c. Sometimes it can tolerate from as low as 100c and high up to 400c. Annual rainfall ranges from 1200mm to 1600mm. This variety does well in well-drained fertile soil. When used well, nitrogenous fertiliser encourages proper leaf growth, however soil pH, and varies from five to seven. Seedlings grow very quick; flowering starts between 40 days to 100 days after seeds broadcast. One plant can produce up to 8kg of fruits with varied cultivation conditions. Fruits produced resemble hens’ egg, with brilliant red colour when ripe. Savannah woodland tends to support this plant.
Fruits produced are fit to be eaten raw. When ripe the fruit can be cooked as a vegetable. The fruit can also be used as flavouring food. Fruits sub groups of gilo and kumba are prepared in stew suitable for consumption. Leaves produced by the young plant are edible when thoroughly cooked though it has an undesirable taste.
Roots and fruits can be used for treating high blood pressure and as a sedative. Leaves are crushed for their juice, which can be used to treat uterine dysfunctions. High leaves produce a beta-carotene-rich in the vitamin. Alkaloids are also extracted from the leaves used as an anti-inflammatory agent. The mock tomato is classified as gilo group, shum group, kumba group and aculaetum group. Hybrid species are resistant to several severe pests and diseases. Soil-borne disease commonly attacks the species, but this can be controlled through the practice of crop rotation.