|Solanum melongena subsp. var.||Aubergine, Eggplant, Jew's apple|
The eggplant, aubergine, melongene or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. (Semi-)wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, less than 3 cm in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain (an insignificant amount of) nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Solanum melongena, Linn. (S. insanum, Linn.). Erect and much-branched herb or subshrub, 2-3 ft. tall, woolly or scurfy, spiny: lvs. large and heavy, ovate or oblong-ovate, becoming nearly glabrous above but remaining densely tomentose beneath, shallowly sinuate-lobed: fls. large, mostly in clusters, the calyx woolly and often spiny, the spreading, deeply lobed, purplish corolla 1 in. or more across: fr. a large berry. Afr. and S. Asia. Original habitat probably S. W. Asia.
Var. esculentum, Nees (S. esculentum and S. ovigerum, Dun.). Common Eggplant. Guinea Squash. Aubergine. Cult. for its large frs., which are usually oblong, obovoid, or egg-shape in form, and purple, white, yellowish or striped: differs from the wild plant in having fewer spines, mostly solitary fls., and much larger and more variable frs. There are 2 well-marked subvarieties: var. serpentinum, Bailey. Snake Eggplant. Fr. greatly elongated and curled at the end. Var. depressum, Bailey. Dwarf Purple Eggplant. Low and diffuse, many of the branches finally resting on the ground, usually dark-colored, nearly glabrous and always spiny: lvs. small and relatively thin, less lobed: fls. small and longer stalked: fr. purple, pyriform. See Eggplant. CH
Spacing should be 45 cm (18 in.) to 60 cm (24 in.) between plants, depending on cultivar, and 60 cm to 90 cm (24 to 36 in.) between rows, depending on the type of cultivation equipment being used. Mulching will help conserve moisture and prevent weeds and fungal diseases. The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination will improve the set of the first blossoms. Fruits are typically cut from the vine just above the calyx owing to the semi-woody stems. Flowers are complete, containing both female and male structures, and may be self-pollinated or cross-pollinated.
In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be sown directly into the garden. Eggplant grown in temperate climates fares better when transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is passed. Seeds are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.
Pests and diseases
Many pests and diseases which afflict other solanaceous vegetables, such as tomato, pepper (capsicum), and potato, are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it should not be planted in areas previously occupied by its close relatives. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants. Common North American pests include the potato beetle, flea beetle, aphids, and spider mites. Many of these can be controlled using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium that attacks the soft-bodied larvae. (Adults can be removed by hand, though flea beetles can be especially difficult to control.) Good sanitation and crop-rotation practices are extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the most serious of which is Verticillium.
Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape and color, especially purple, green, or white. There are even orange varieties.
A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram (2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and were sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.
Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned cultivars include Harris Special Hibush, Burpee Hybrid, Black Magic, Classic, Dusky, and Black Beauty. Slim cultivars in purple-black skin include Little Fingers, Ichiban, Pingtung Long, and Tycoon; in green skin Louisiana Long Green and Thai (Long) Green; in white skin Dourga. Traditional, white-skinned, egg-shaped cultivars include Casper and Easter Egg. Bicolored cultivars with color gradient include Rosa Bianca and Violetta di Firenze. Bicolored cultivars in striping include Listada de Gandia and Udumalapet. In some parts of India, miniature varieties (most commonly called Vengan) are popular. A particular variety of green brinjal known as Matti Gulla is grown in Matti village of Udupi district in Karnataka state in India.
- ↑ Westerfield, Robert (2008-11-14). "Pollination of Vegetable Crops" (pdf). Retrieved on 2009-07-01.