Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. A genus of gamopetalous plants, type of order Solanaceæ, the nightshade family, and tribe Solaneæ It is characterized by flowers usually with a deeply five or ten-lobed spreading calyx, an angled or five-lobed wheel-shaped corolla, very short filaments with long anthers which form a cone or cylinder, open by a vertical pore or a larger chink, and are almost destitute of any connective, and a generally two-celled ovary with its conspicuous placentæ projecting from the partition. It is one of the largest genera of plants (compare
Senecio), and includes over 950 published species, of which perhaps 750 are distinct. Their distribution is similar to that of the order, and they constitute half or two thirds of its species. They are herbs, shrubs, or small trees, sometimes climbers, of polymorphous habit, either smooth, downy, or woolly, or even viscous. They bear alternate entire or divided leaves, sometimes in pairs, but never truly opposite. Their flowers are yellow, white, violet, or purplish, grouped in panicled or umbeled cymes which are usually scorpioid, sometimes apparently racemose, rarely reduced to a single flower. The species form two groups, the subgenera Pachystemonum and Leptostemonum (Dunal, 1813), the first unarmed and with broad anthers, the other with long anthers opening by minute pores, and commonly armed with straight spines on the branchlets, leaves, and calyx. South America is the central home of the genus, and of its most useful member, the potato, S. tuberosum, which occurs in numerous wild varieties, with or without small tubers on the rootstocks, from Lima to latitude 45° S. in Patagonia, and northward to New Mexico. (See potato, potato-rot, and cuts under rotateand tuber,) There are 15 native species in the United States, chiefly in the southwest, besides numerous prominent varieties and 5 introduced species. The seeds of many species are remarkably tenacious of life, and are therefore soon naturalized, especially the cosmopolitan weed S. nigrum, the common or black nightshade, the original type of the genus (for which see nightshade, and figure of leaf under repand; and compare ointment of poplar-buds, under ointment): from this the name nightshade is sometimes extended to several other European species. For S. Dulcamara, the bittersweet, the other common species of the northeastern United States, a climber introduced for ornament, see nightshade, felonwort, dulcamara, and dulcamarin. Two others in the United states are of importance as prickly weeds, S. Carolinense (for which see horse-nettle), a pest which has sometimes caused fields in Delaware to be abandoned, and S. rostratum (for which see sand-bur), of abundant growth on the plains beyond the Mississippi, and known as the chief food of the Colorado beetle or potato-bug before the introduction of the potato westward. The genus is one of strongly marked properties, A few species with comparatively inert foliage have been used as salads, as S. nodiflorum in the West Indies and S. sessiliflorum in Brazil; but the leaves of most, as of the common potato, bittersweet, and nightshade, are more or less powerfully narcotic, (See solanine.) The roots, leaves, seeds, and fruit-juices yield numerous remedies of the tropics; S. jubatum is strongly sudorific; S. pseudoquina is a source of quina in Brazil, a powerful bitter and febrifuge; others are purgative or diuretie, as S. paniculatum, the jerubeba of Brazil; S. stramonifolium is used as a poison in Cayenne. The berries are often edible, as in the well-known S. Melongena (S. esculentum) (for which see egg-plant, brinjal, and aubergine). Others with edible fruit are S. aviculare (see kangaroo-apple), S. Uporo, the cannibal-apple or borodina of the Fiji and other Pacific islands, with large red fruit used like the tomato, S. vescum, the gunyang of southeastern Australia, S. album and S. Æthiopicum, cultivated in China and southern Asia, S. Gilo in tropical America, S. muricatum, the pepino or melon-pear of Peru, and S. racemosum in the West Indies, S. Quitoense, the Quito orange, yields a fruit resembling a small orange in color, fragrance, and taste, S. Indicum (S. Anguivi) is known as Madagascar potato, and S. crispum of Chili as potato-tree. Some species bear an inedible fruit, as S. mammosum, the macaw-bush (which see), also called susumberand (together with S. torvum) turkey-berry. For S. Bahamense, see cankerberry, and for S. Sodomæum, see Sodom-apple. Other species yield dyes, as S. gnaphalioides in Peru and S. Vespertilio in the Canaries, used to paint the face; S. Guineense, used to dye silk violet; and S. indigoferum, in cultivation in Brazil for indigo, S. marginatum is used in Abyssinia to tan leather; and the fruit of S. saponaceum is used as soap in Peru. Several species have been long cultivated as ornaments for their abundant red or orange berries, as S. Pseudo-capsicum, the Jerusalem cherry or winter-cherry (see cherry), and the Brazilian S. Capsicastrum, the dwarf winter cherry or star-capsicum. Many others are now cultivated as ornamental plants, and are known by the generic name Solanum, as S. Karstenii, from Venezuela, with violet flowers; S. betaceum, a small pink-flowered fleshy South American tree with fine scarlet egg-like fruit; and S. lanceolatum, with narrow willow-like leaves, reputed the most showy blooming species. Others are cultivated for their conspicuous foliage, as S. crinitum and S. macranthum, with leaves 2½ feet long; S. robustum, clad in showy red down; and S. Warscewiczii with handsome flowers and large leaves elegantly cut. The climber S. jasminoides, the jasmine-solanum, is a house-plant from Brazil, esteemed for its large and abundant clusters of fragrant white or bluish flowers.
- n. A taxonomic genus within the family Solanaceae — many plants such as the tomato, potato, aubergine and the nightshades; most are poisonous.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. (Bot.) A genus of plants comprehending the potato (S. tuberosum), the eggplant (S. melongena, and several hundred other species; nightshade.
- n. type genus of the Solanaceae: nightshade; potato; eggplant; bittersweet.
“What is referred to as Solanum nigrum in this book may well be a complex of species and their various forms which can be termed the Solanum nigrum complex.”
“Although cultivated potatoes (Solanum tuberosum) originated in Peru, the late blight fungus appears to have originated in the Toluca Valley of Mexico (just west of Mexico City) where it is found in several related wild-growing Solanum tubers.”
“Solanum caule inermi herbaceo, foliis pinnatis incisis, racemis simplicibus, for example, became Solanum lycopersicum – that is, a tomato.”
“Weighing the evidence for and dating of a Solanum virus outbreak in early Egypt, archaeologist Renee Friedman and her colleagues look at clues from the past and establish protocols for containing cases in the future”
“Additional species include the following: Thamnoseris-Sanctambrosia manicata (Caryophyllaceae); Nesocaryum stylosum (Boraginaceae) - Frankenia vidalii and Solanum brachyantherum (Solanaceae) - Lycapsus tenuifolius.”
“These include Solanum brachyantherum, Eragrostis peruviana and Tetragonia macrocarpa.”
“Unlike the husk tomato, the true tomato, a member of the Solanum family, originated in South America, though archeological evidence indicated that it was domesticated in Mexico and Central America.”
“The desert raisin, a foot-high shrub with purple flowers and soft leaves, is actually a member of the tomato family, Solanum nemophilum.”
“In 1892, a British dig at Hierakonpolis unearthed a nondescript tomb containing a partially decomposed body, whose brain had been infected with the virus Solanum that turns people into zombies.”
“Added: There has been a positive ID on this perennial pepper, actually a Jerusalem Cherry, Solanum capsicastrum, by the very helpful Joseph of Greensparrow Gardens.”
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