Herbs & Plants

Solanum torvum

Botanical Name: Solanum torvum
Family: Solanaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales
Genus: Solanum
Species:S. torvum
*Solanum ferrugineum Jacq.
*Solanum mayanum Lundell
*Solanum verapazense Standl. & Steyerm.

Common Names: Turkey berry, Devil’s fig, Pea eggplant, Platebrush or Susumber. In Jamaica this berry is called Susumba, or Gully beans.

Habitat: Solanum torvum is native from Florida and southern Alabama through the West Indies and from Mexico through Central America and South America through Brazil (Little and others 1974).It grows on the Forests, forest margins, waterways, plantation crops, roadsides, pastures, disturbed sites and waste areas. Once established, S. torvum can, by sprouting from the roots, form dense thickets capable of overrunning farmlands and pastures, and of displacing native vegetation.

Solanum torvum is a bushy, erect and spiny perennial plant used horticulturally as a rootstock for eggplant. The plant is usually 2 or 3 m in height and 2 cm in basal diameter, but may reach 5m in height and 8 cm in basal diameter. The shrub usually has a single stem at ground level, but it may branch on the lower stem. The stem bark is gray and nearly smooth with raised lenticels. The inner bark has a green layer over an ivory color (Little and others 1974). The plants examined by the author, growing on firm soil, had weak taproots and well-developed laterals. The roots are white. Foliage is confined to the growing twigs.

The twigs are gray-green and covered with star-shaped hairs. The spines are short and slightly curved and vary from thick throughout the plant, including the leaf midrib, to entirely absent. The leaves are opposite or one per node, broadly ovate with the border entire or deeply lobed. The petioles are 1 to 6 cm long and the blades are 7 to 23 by 5 to 18 cm and covered with short hairs. The flowers are white, tubular with 5 pointed lobes, and grouped in corymbiform cymes. They are shed soon after opening.

The fruits are berries that grow in clusters of tiny green spheres (ca. 1 cm in diameter) that look like green peas. They become yellow when fully ripe. They are thin-fleshed and contain numerous flat, round, brown seeds (Howard 1989, Liogier 1995, Little and others 1974).


Solanum torvum usually has a single stem at ground level, but it may branch on the lower stem. The stem bark is gray and nearly smooth with raised lenticels.It has many medicinal applications. How to Grow: Mix Manure with soil (30:70),and this will help in germination of seeds.
Since they are small they are quick to grow with about 10 weeks until harvest time. Once they are ripe the yield tons of fruit.

Solanum torvum is normally propagated by seed. … The fresh seed shows strong dormancy. Seed is sown in a nursery and seedlings are transplanted after 5–6 weeks at a spacing of 1 m. Branch cuttings taken from high-yielding shrubs are also used for propagation.

Edible Uses:
The young shoots can be eaten raw or cooked.
Leaves and young shoots. They are cut into small pieces and cooked with salt and chilli, and garnished with mustard seeds, curry leaves and onions in oil.

Fruits eaten – raw or cooked. A juicy pulp, containing many small seeds. A distinctive, bitter flavour, it tends to be more appreciated by older people. The fruit is eaten raw in Asia, where it is also cooked and served as a side dish with rice, or is added to stews, soups, curries etc. In the West Indies, the half-grown, firm berries are boiled and eaten with foods such as yams or akees, or are added to soups and stews. The yellowish, globose berry can be 10 – 15mm in diameter, containing many small seeds. The immature fruit is green, turning yellow then orange as it ripens.

Medicinal Uses:
Solanum torvum plant is often used in traditional medicine and, when used wisely, its fruit and leaves can be used to control a range of microbial activities. The glycoalkaloid solasodine, which is found in the leaves and fruits, is used in India in the manufacture of steroidal sex hormones for oral contraceptives.

The juice of the plant is used to treat fevers, coughs, asthma, chest ailments, sore throats, rheumatism, dropsy, stomach aches and gonorrhoea.
The juice of the flowers, with salt added, is used as eye drops.

The leaves are an effective antimicrobial and diuretic. An infusion is used as a treatment for thrush. The leaves are dried and ground to powder, this is used as a medicine for diabetic patients.
The leaves are applied topically to treat cuts, wounds and skin diseases.

A syrup prepared from the leaves and flowers is used as a treatment for colds.

An infusion of the leaves and fruits is used as a treatment for bush yaws and sores.

The fruit is diuretic. It is used in the treatment of malaria, stomach aches and problems with the spleen. A decoction is given to children as a treatment for coughs. The young fruits are used to improve the eyesight.
A paste of the mature fruit is applied as a poultice to the forehead to treat headaches. The fruit juice is applied locally to ease the irritation of ant bites.

A decoction of the root is used to treat venereal disease. The roots are boiled, lime juice is added, and the whole is drunk as a treatment for malaria. The juice of the roots is used to treat vomiting caused by weakness.
The pounded root is inserted into the cavity of a decayed tooth to relieve toothache

Other Uses:
The plant is sometimes used as a rootstock for tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) and aubergines (Solanum melongena), where it conveys resistance to bacterial wilt and nematodes. Solanum aethiopicum cv. ‘Iizuka’ gives better results with tomatoes.

Known Hazards:
Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most species in this genus also contain toxic alkaloids. Whilst these alkaloids can make the plant useful in treaing a range of medical conditions, they can also cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, salivation, drowsiness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness and respiratory depression.
Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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