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Common Name: Green Kangaroo Apple
Solanum vescum is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a food, medicine and source of materials.
Although no specific mention of toxicity has been seen for this species, it belongs to a genus where many if not all the members have poisonous leaves and sometimes also the unripe fruits.
Australia - Queensland, New South Wales, Tasmania, Victoria.
Open forests near the coast[
]. Stream banks and dunes, also in heaths and jungles[
We have very little information on this species and do not know if it will succeed in Britain, though judging by its native range it is unlikely to succeed outdoors except in the very mildest parts of the country. Plants tolerate temperatures down to at least -7°c in Australian gardens[
], but this cannot be translated directly to British gardens due to our cooler summers and longer, colder and wetter winters. It is quite possible that this species can be grown at the foot of a warm sunny wall and be treated as a herbaceous perennial. As long as the roots are given a good mulch in autumn they should survive quite cold winters. The following notes are based on the general needs of the genus.
Succeeds in most soils in a sunny position[
Fruit - raw or cooked[
]. It must be fully ripe, see the notes above on toxicity[
]. The fruit tastes much worse than it looks, it is sickly sweet and often bitter[
]. The quality varies from plant to plant and even from year to year from the same plant[
]. The fruit is up to 2cm long and contains a large number of flat seeds[
A source of solasonine, used in the manufacture of steroidal drugs and contraceptives[
]. It is probably obtained from the unripe fruit[
Plants can be grown as a screening hedge in climates suitable for them[
Seed - sow spring in a warm greenhouse. Germinates in 2 - 3 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle. If growing the plants as annuals, plant them out after the last expected frosts and give them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing well. If growing as a perennial, especially in areas at the limits of its cold-hardiness, it will probably be better to grow the plants on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Give them fairly large pots (12cm or larger) because they have very strong root growth. Top growth might die back over winter, but the roots should survive if temperatures in the greenhouse do not fall below about -5°c. Plant them out in early summer of the following year. The plants will be somewhat hardier in their second winter.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood, mid summer in a frame. Very easy, the cuttings root within a couple of weeks. Pot them up in fairly large pots and overwinter them in the greenhouse before planting out in early summer.