Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Solanum capsicoides All.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
Click/tap on images to enlarge
Flower. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and flowers. © G. Sankowsky
Fruit, side views, cross section and seeds. © W. T. Cooper
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Allioni, C. (1773) Auctuarium ad Synopsim Methodicam Stirpium Horti Regii Taurensis : 12. Type: Cultivated at Turin, origin unknown; holo: TO.

Common name

Devil's Apple; Nightshade; Apple, Devil's


Usually flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1-2 m tall but also flowers when smaller.


Leaf blades about 4-8 x 4-7 cm, hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces also with erect, straight about 4-10 mm long spines present on both surfaces particularly along the midrib and main lateral veins. Petioles about 1.5-2.5 cm long. Leaf blade margins coarsely lobed with 2 or 3 lobes on each side. Twigs and petioles also armed with spines.


Inflorescence axis, pedicels and calyx armed with straight spines. Pedicels about 10-25 mm long. Calyx about 4-6 mm long, lobes about 2-3 mm long. Corolla about 20-30 mm diam. Anthers orange, about 5-7 mm long, filaments somewhat flattened or winged. Ovary clothed in fine short glandular hairs. Style short.


Fruits depressed globular, about 20-35 mm diam. Pedicels spiny. Calyx green, spiny, persistent at the base of the fruit. Seeds numerous, about 4-6 mm diam. including the thick wing around the margin. Seeds dry, not immersed in pulp. Embryo +/- coiled, cotyledons no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons about 11-13 x 4-7 mm on petioles about 8-14 mm long. First pair of leaves alternate or paired, both the upper and lower surfaces and the petiole clothed in erect white hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade +/- cordate, margin slightly lobed, spines present on the stem, petiole, midrib and lateral veins on both the upper and lower leaf surfaces. Seed germination time 12 to 13 days.

Distribution and Ecology

An introduced species originally from Central America now naturalised in NEQ, CEQ and the south-eastern coastal Queensland and southwards as far as coastal central New South Wales. Altitudinal range in NEQ from near sea level to 1000 m. Grows in agricultural areas and along roads and clearings in rain forest.

Natural History & Notes

Suspected of being poisonous to stock but the evidence is not conclusive. (Everist 1974).

Children have been observed eating the soft inner pericarp which has a faint banana flavour. This practice cannot be condoned.

Solanum aculeatissimum Jacq., Collectanea 1 : 100(1787), Type: Jacquin; holo: W. Fide W. G. DArcy, Ann. Missouri Bot. Gard. 60: 711 (1973).
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