Australian Tropical Rainforest Plants - Online edition

Solanum parvifolium subsp. tropicum A.R.Bean

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 flower. © G. Sankowsky
Leaves and Flowers. © CSIRO
Leaves and fruits. © CSIRO
Scale bar 10mm. © CSIRO
Cotyledon stage, epigeal germination. © CSIRO

Bean, A.R. (2004) Austrobaileya 6: 700. Type: Queensland, Herberton Water Supply Weir, Wild River, Moomin, 25 April 2002, P.I. Forster 28670; Holo: BRI; Iso: AD, K, L, MEL. MO, NSW.

Common name

Nightshade; Nightshade, Star; Star Nightshade; Devil's Needles


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


Straight spines, about 2-8 mm long, present on the twigs and often also present on the petioles and upper surface of the leaf blade. Stellate hairs present on the twigs, petioles and underside of the leaf blades, scattered stellate hairs may also be visible on the upper surface. Leaf blades about 3-10 x 1-3 cm, petioles about 0.5-2 cm long. Lateral veins about 7-9, depressed on the upper surface of the leaf blade.


Pedicels about 10-20 mm long, clothed in stellate hairs. Calyx about 6-8 mm long, lobes about 3-6 mm long, outer surface of the calyx stellate hairy. Corolla about 20-25 mm diam., outer surface stellate hairy. Anthers about 4-5 mm long. Ovary hairy, at least towards the apex.


Fruits globular, about 5-11 mm diam., calyx lobes persistent at the base. Seeds numerous, 10 or more per fruit, each seed about 1.5-4 x 3 mm, testa tuberculate. Embryo tiny, coiled, cotyledons very small, no wider than the radicle.


Cotyledons elliptic to narrowly elliptic, about 10-14 x 4-5 mm, upper and lower surfaces hairy, petioles about 4-5 mm long. First pair of leaves alternate and clothed in stellate hairs. At the tenth leaf stage: stem, petiole and both the upper and lower surfaces of the leaf blade armed with straight spines. Stem, petiole and lower leaf blade surfaces also clothed in stellate hairs, upper leaf blade surface +/- glabrous or very sparsely clothed in stellate hairs.

Distribution and Ecology

Endemic to Australia, occurs in NEQ and CEQ. Altitudinal range from near sea level to 950 m. Often grows in open eucalypt forest but also found in beach forest, monsoon forest and rain forest margins.

Natural History & Notes

Fruits eaten by Aborigines in coastal New South Wales. Purdie et al. (1982).

Solanum stelligerum Sm., Exotic Botany 2: 57(1806), Type: NSW; holo: LINN.
RFK Code
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