Solanum aculeastrum

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Solanum aculeastrum
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Plant Info
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Kingdom: Plantae
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Division: Magnoliophyta
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Class: Magnoliopsida
Sublass: Asteridae
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Order: Solanales
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Family: Solanaceae
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Genus: Solanum
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Species: S. aculeastrum
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Binomial name
Solanum aculeastrum
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Type Species

Solanum aculeastrum, the Sodaapple nightshade, goat-apple, bitter-apple, or poison apple, is a shrub or small tree native to tropical Africa south to South Africa, in a wide range of soil, terrain and climatic conditions. It is highly-branched and reaches 1-5 m high, with numerous sharp hooked brown thorns. The leaves are ovate, up to 15 cm long and 13 cm broad, with lobed margins and a downy underside. It flowers (in South Africa) from September to July, peaking from November to March. The petals are white to pale violet surrounding the ovary. These yield to fruit from April to January, peaking in June and November. These smooth, round berries are 6 cm in diameter and fade from green to yellow as they ripen. These berries contain high levels of the poisonous alkaloid solanine. The species name aculeastrum refers to the thorns that adorn most parts of the shrub.


Because of its dense growth and prickly nature, goat-apple is used as a hedge and living barrier for containing livestock. The sodaapple is often used as a soap replacement, as it is high in saponin. Traditional Zulu practices use the fruit - fresh, boiled, or charred - in herbal medicine to treat a wide variety of afflictions including cancer, toothaches, and ringworm.

References and external links

  • Plantzafrica information
  • Wanyonyi A.W.; Tarus P.K.; Chhabra S.C. 2003. A novel glycosidic steroidal alkaloid from Solanum aculeastrum. Bulletin of the Chemical Society of Ethiopia 17 (1): 61-66(6). Abstract.
  • Wanyonyi AW, Chhabra SC, Mkoji G, Njue W, Tarus PK. 2003. Molluscicidal and antimicrobial activity of Solanum aculeastrum. Fitoterapia 74 (3): 298-301. Abstract
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