Solanum catombelense (PROTA)

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Plant Resources of Tropical Africa
Introduction
List of species


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Solanum catombelense Peyr.


Protologue: Sitzungsber. Akad. Wiss. Math.-Naturwiss. Wien 38: 576 (1860).
Family: Solanaceae

Origin and geographic distribution

Solanum catombelense occurs in southern Africa, except Malawi and Zambia.

Uses

In Namibia tea made of the roots of Solanum catombelense is drunk or the roots are chewed to treat gastro-intestinal disorders. The sap of fresh unripe fruits is applied as arrow poison.

Mature fruits are considered edible. Leaves and stems are eaten as a vegetable.

Description

Perennial herb, erect or spreading up to 120 cm tall; stems stellate-hairy, sparsely covered with prickles. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole 1–3 cm long; blade oblong, 1.5–8.5 cm × 1–4.5 cm, base rounded or cuneate, apex obtuse or rounded, margin entire or more or less wavy to few-lobed, prickles often present on main veins, densely soft-hairy on both sides. Inflorescence a cyme, inserted above the leaf axil, 2–3.5 cm long, 2–7(–10)-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, (4–)5(–6)-merous; calyx bell- or cup-shaped, densely soft hairy, lobes unequal, ovate to linear-lanceolate, up to 3.5(–5) mm long, obtuse, recurved; corolla rotate to stellate, up to 10 mm in diameter, white to purple or violet; stamens alternating with corolla lobes, filaments c. 0.5 mm long, anthers up to 4.5 mm long, opening with apical pores; ovary superior, hairy on upper half, style hairy, 4.5–7.5 mm long. Fruit a globose berry 5–12 mm in diameter, glabrous, yellow, orange, red or blackish when ripe, many-seeded. Seeds ovoid, 2.5–3.5 mm in diameter, pale yellow to brown. Seedling with epigeal germination; cotyledons thin, leafy.

Other botanical information

Solanum comprises over 1000 species and has a cosmopolitan distribution, except in boreal, alpine and aquatic habitats. At least 100 species are found in tropical Africa. The principal centre of diversity is located in Central and South America, with secondary centres in Africa and Australia. Solanum has been subdivided into 7 subgenera and numerous sections and series.

Solanum catombelense has been placed in the ‘ Solanum tomentosum and relatives’ group of the section Oliganthes of subgenus Leptostemonum. This group comprises 3 species and occurs in southern Africa. The other species in this group, Solanum burchellii Dunal and Solanum tomentosum L., are also used medicinally.

Solanum burchellii

A root infusion of Solanum burchellii is drunk to cure venereal diseases in Namibia.

Solanum tomentosum

Solanum tomentosum is restricted to South Africa and a decoction of the roots is drunk to cure syphilis.

The closely related ‘ Solanum capense and relatives’ group comprises about 7 species, all but one restricted to southern Africa.

Solanum glabratum

Solanum glabratum Dunal (synonym: Solanum sepicula Dunal) occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia and Saudi Arabia. In Ethiopia the roots of Solanum glabratum are crushed, mixed with water and given as a drink to cattle suffering from anthrax.

Of the species restricted to southern Africa, 3 have documented medicinal uses in Namibia: Solanum capense L., Solanum dinteri Bitter and Solanum namaquense Dammer.

Solanum capense

In South Africa the pulverized roots of Solanum capense are applied for toothache and milk boiled with pounded roots is drunk to cure urinary tract problems. Leaf pulp is applied to ulcers and leaf sap to inflamed eyes. Squashed fruits are applied to warts and skin affected by ringworm.

Solanum dinteri

The roots of Solanum dinteri are taken for stomach complaints, a root decoction is drunk to cure venereal diseases and crushed roots are applied externally to relieve pain.

Solanum namaquense

A root decoction of Solanum namaquense is used as a purgative and for liver, gall bladder and stomach complaints. The roots enter in preparations to treat venereal diseases, urinary tract problems and dysmenorrhoea. Fruits are squashed on lips and tongue to treat fever blisters.

Ecology

Solanum catombelense occurs in many vegetation types: coastal forest, woodland, wooded grassland, along rivers, on rocky outcrops and in overgrazed and disturbed localities, from sea-level up to 1300 m altitude.

Genetic resources

There is no indication that Solanum catombelense is in danger of genetic erosion.

Prospects

Solanum catombelense will probably remain of local importance as a medicinal plant.

Major references

  • Gonçalves, A.E., 2005. Solanaceae. In: Pope, G.V., Polhill, R.M. & Martins, E.S. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 8, part 4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 124 pp.
  • von Koenen, E., 2001. Medicinal, poisonous and edible plants in Namibia. Klaus Hess Verlag, Göttingen, Germany. 336 pp.
  • Wondimu, T., Asfaw, Z. & Kelbessa, E., 2007. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants around ‘Dheeraa’ town, Arsi Zone, Ethiopia. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 112: 152–161.

Other references

  • Edmonds, J.M., Friis, I. & Thulin, M., 2006. Solanaceae. In: Thulin, M. (Editor). Flora of Somalia. Volume 3. Angiospermae (cont.). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. p. 197–221.
  • Leffers, A., 2003. Gemsbok bean & Kalahari truffle: traditional plant use by Jul’hoansi in North-Eastern Namibia. Gamsberg Macmillan Publishers, Windhoek, Namibia. 202 pp.
  • Peters, C.R., O’Brien, E.M. & Drummond, R.B., 1992. Edible wild plants of sub-saharan Africa. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 239 pp.
  • Sarg, T.M., Glombitza, K.W., Farrag, N.M., Hafez, S.S. & Abbas, F.A., 1995. Steroidal alkaloids and saponins of Solanum sepicula (Dun.). Egyptian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 36: 271–285.
  • SEPASAL, 2008. Solanum catombelense. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. http://www.kew.org/ ceb/sepasal/. March 2008.
  • Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
  • Whalen, M.D., 1984. Conspectus of species groups in Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum. Gentes Herbarum 12(4): 1–282.

Author(s)

  • C.H. Bosch, PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article

Bosch, C.H., 2008. Solanum catombelense Peyr. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands. Accessed 13 December 2019.