Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Solanum ellipticum R.Br.

Herb (herbaceous or woody, under 1 m tall)
Shrub (woody or herbaceous, 1-6 m tall)
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Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
10th leaf stage. © CSIRO

Brown, R. (1810) Prodromus : 446. Type: Queensland, Broadsound, 25 Sept. 1802, R. Brown, Lecto: BM; Isolecto: MPU.

Common name



Usually grows as a decumbent plant less than 1 m tall but occasionally flowers and fruits as a shrub about 1 m tall.


Twigs and both leaf surfaces densely clothed in stellate hairs. Straight spines (up to 10 mm long) present on the twigs, petioles, midrib and lateral veins on the upper surface of the leaf blade. Spines sometimes also present on the midrib and lateral veins on the underside of the leaf blade. Leaf blades about 3-15 x 1.5-8 cm, petioles about 1-3 cm long.


Inflorescence axis, pedicels and calyx armed with straight spines. Pedicels about 5-10 mm long. Calyx about 5-6 mm long, lobes about 3-4 mm long. Corolla about 15-20 mm diam., clothed in stellate hairs. Anthers about 4-5 mm long. Style clothed in stellate hairs.


Fruits globular, about 10-20 mm diam., spiny calyx persistent at the base. Seeds about 2.5 mm long. Embryo horseshoe-shaped, cotyledons about as wide as the radicle.


Cotyledons ovate to lanceolate, about 11-17 x 6-8 mm, margin hairy, upper surface hairy, lower surface with hairs on the midrib. Petioles about 3 mm long. Hypocotyl very hairy. First pair of true leaves subopposite, rounded at the apex, base cordate. At the tenth leaf stage: leaf blade densely stellate hairy on both the upper and lower surfaces. Straight spines (to about 5 mm long) usually present on the stem, petiole and along the midrib. Terminal bud densely clothed in matted, white, stellate hairs. Seed germination time 43 days.

Distribution and Ecology

Occurs in NEQ, CEQ and southwards as far as north-eastern New South Wales. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 600 m. Usually grows in rocky areas, often in open forest but also found in vine thickets and monsoon forest.

Solanum ellipticum var. ellipticum, Flora Australiensis 4: 464(1868). Solanum ellipticum f. ellipticum Wawra, Itin. Princ. S. Coburgi : 100(1883). Solanum ellipticum var. typicum Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 588(1929). Solanum sp. ( Newcastle Range D.E. Symon 4907), Names & Distribution of Queensland Plants, Algae & Lichens. : 190(2002). Solanum dianthophorum Dunal, Histoire Naturelle, medicale et economique des Solanum : 183(1813), Type: Queensland, Port II (Port Clinton), R. Brown s.n.; lecto: BM. Fide D. E. Symon, J. Adelaide Bot. Gard. 4:191 (1981). Solanum ellipticum R. Br. var. chillagoense Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 588(1929), Type: Qld, near Chillago, Feb. 1910, K. Domin; Syn: PR. Solanum cleistogamon Symon, Trans. & Proc. Roy. Soc. South Australia 95: 227(1971), Type: Western Australia, 32 kilometers N. of Onslow, 1 July 1967, D.E. Symon 5418; Holo: Perth; Iso: AD, CANB, K, L. Solanum ellipticum f. albiflora Domin, Biblioth. Bot. 89: 588(1929), Type: Queensland, Near Chillagoe, Feb. 1910, K. Domin; Holo: PR?. Solanum biflorum R.Br., Prodromus Florae Novae Hollandiae : 445(1810), Type: v.v.
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