Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Solanum defensum F.Muell.

Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Fruit, side view and cross section. © W. T. Cooper
Cotyledon and 1st leaf stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO

Mueller, F.J.H. von (1865) Fragmenta Phytographiae Australiae 5(32): 193. Type: Cape York, E. Daemel.


Shrub 1-2.5 m tall; rhizomatous.


Twigs usually armed with straight spines 6-9 mm long, petioles and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blades often similarly armed. Shoots and twigs clothed in pale brown stellate hairs. Stellate hairs on the underside of the leaf blades absent or confined to midrib; the upper surface usually +/- glabrous. Leaves entire or shallowly lobed. Leaf blades about 7-14 x 2-5 cm, petioles about 0.6-1 cm long. Leaves often produced in pairs but both leaves appear to be on the same side of the twig.


Inflorescence not strictly axillary but +/- leaf opposed; 5-13 flowered. Pedicels 4-8 mm long, prickes absent. Calyx tube 1-3 mm long, lobes about 0.2-1 mm long; calyx stellate hairy on the outer surface. Corolla about 15-20 mm diam., 5-8 mm long, stellate hairy on the outer surface. Calyx and corolla reflexed at anthesis. Anthers about 3-4.5 mm long. Style with stellate hairs. Stigma globular, green, no wider than the style.


Fruits globular, about 13-17 mm diam. Fruiting calyx with lobes less than half length of mature fruit, prickles absent. Seeds numerous, about 3.8-4.3 mm long. Embryo coiled, cotyledons no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons lanceolate, about 10-16 x 5-7 mm, hairy on the upper surface. Hypocotyl hairy, hairs simple, gland-tipped. Stem above the cotyledons clothed in stellate hairs. First pair of leaves alternate, both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade stellate hairy but simple gland-tipped hairs also present. At the tenth leaf stage: stem, petioles and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade armed with straight spines about 5-10 mm long. Stem, petiole and leaf blade undersurface clothed in stellate hairs. Leaf blade upper surface +/- glabrous. Seed germination time 19 to 211 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to CYP, known from the tip of Cape York Peninsula to the McIlwraith Range. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 600 m. Grows in notophyll rainforest, in hilly terrain.

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