Solanum mammosum, cow’s udder plant or nippleplant

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Solanum mammosum seeds


Solanum mammosum, better known as cow’s udder plant or nippleplant, belongs to the family of the Solanaceae, the nightshades. S. mammosum comes originally from Southamerica and the Caribbean. It is a shrub that reaches a height of about 1,5m. The shoot is greenish or violet and is covered with hairs (trichomes) and thorns. It is very rarely that the plant doesn’t have thorns at all. The shoot is 4 cm in diameter. The leaves are just like the shoot covered with trichomes and thorns on their upper side as well as on their bottom side. The thorns are mainly on the midrib of the leaves where they can reach a length of up to 2,5cm. The leaves are lobate and dentate and can reach a length of about 20cm. The flowers are clustered in Inflorescences of 10 flowers. The single flowers are small and violet. The violet petals are hairy as well as the rest of the plant. In one inflorescence there’s always just one fertile hermaphrodite flower, the rest of the inflorescence are fertile male flowers. Due to that fact there’s always just one fruit per inflorescence. S. mammosum is used as ornamental plant because her bright yellow fruits look like cow udders. The fruits can get 5,5cm in diameter. Florists use them in flower bouquets. In China the fruit is used as decoration during Chinese New Year. It symbolizes the harmony in a big family. S. mammosum is well suited as ornamental plant because the fruits are very long at the plant. But one should be careful with the fruit because they are, as well as any other part of the plant, poisonous. They include Solanin, a poisonous glycoside. The fruits include various seeds in a greenish pulp. The seeds are almost round with 4,5mm in diameter. They are yellow or brown.

The seeds are 6 month fertile thereby it makes no difference whether the seeds are dry or still in the pulp. Before planting the seeds one has to put them into warm water for several hours. S. mammosum needs a warm and light place (about 25°C). The substrate should be moist all the time but not wet. The germination time varies much. Sometimes germination occurs after 2 weeks but the seeds can also need up to 8 weeks to germinate.

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