Solanum aviculare vescum (F.Muell.) Ewart
Common Name: Green Kangaroo Apple
Solanum vescum is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 2.00 metres tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a food and medicine. It is sometimes grown as a hedge.
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[
eastern Australia - southern Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania
Open forests near the coast[
]. Stream banks and dunes, also in heaths and jungles[
Solanum vescum is somewhat cold-hardy, being able to tolerate temperatures down to at least -7°c within its native range[
]. However, it requires hot summers in order to fully ripen irs wood - in areas with cooler summers it is likely to be considerably less cold tolerant over the winter, especially if the weather is also wet at that time. In such a climate 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 several degrees of frost. 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.