Toxic parts

All green parts of the plant are poisonous[1] and so is the unripe fruit[2].

Edible uses


Fruit - raw or cooked[3][2]. It must be thoroughly ripe because the unripe fruit is poisonous[4][5][6][1]. It can be used as a sweet fruit or as a vegetable[7]. Best harvested once it has fallen from the plant, the fruit will then have lost its unpleasant acidity[8]. It tastes much worse than it looks, the fruit is sickly sweet and often bitter[9]. The quality varies from plant to plant and even from year to year from the same plant[9]. The fruit is up to 2cm long and contains a large number of flat seeds[9].


Material uses

In warmer climates than Britain this plant is often used as a hedge[10].

There are no material uses listed for Solanum aviculare.

Medicinal uses(Warning!)

A source of steroids, much used in the pharmaceutical industry. The unripe berries are the richest source[6][2].

Unknown part


Ecosystem niche/layer

Ecological Functions



Nothing listed.


Nothing listed.


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, July/August 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.

Practical Plants is currently lacking information on propagation instructions of Solanum aviculare. Help us fill in the blanks! Edit this page to add your knowledge.


Succeeds in most fertile soils in a sunny position[11]. Tolerates temperatures down to at least -7°c in Australian gardens[10] but is not very hardy in Britain. It sometimes succeeds as a shrub outdoors in the mildest areas of the country[12] but is more usually cut to the ground by winter cold. It can, however, 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[13][12]. Alternatively, it is possible to grow the plant as an annual. If the seed is sown in early spring in a warm greenhouse and planted out after the last frosts it can fruit in its first year though yields will be lower than from plants grown as perennials[K]. A very ornamental plant[13], it has been cultivated for its edible fruit by the New Zealand Maoris[6]. It is a fast-growing but short-lived plant[9]. There is much confusion between this species and S. laciniatum. Some botanists unite the two under S. aviculare whilst others say that S. laciniatum is a tetraploid form of this species[14]. S. laciniatum is treated as a distinct species here.


Problems, pests & diseases

Associations & Interactions

There are no interactions listed for Solanum aviculare. Do you know of an interaction that should be listed here? edit this page to add it.

Polycultures & Guilds

There are no polycultures listed which include Solanum aviculare.




None listed.


None listed.

Full Data

This table shows all the data stored for this plant.

Binomial name
Solanum aviculare
Imported References
Medicinal uses
Material uses & Functions
Edible uses
None listed.
Material uses
None listed.
Medicinal uses
None listed.
Functions & Nature
Provides forage for
Provides shelter for
Hardiness Zone
Heat Zone
full sun
no shade
Soil PH
Soil Texture
Soil Water Retention
Environmental Tolerances
    Native Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Adapted Climate Zones
    None listed.
    Native Geographical Range
    None listed.
    Native Environment
    None listed.
    Ecosystem Niche
    None listed.
    Root Zone Tendancy
    None listed.
    Deciduous or Evergreen
    Herbaceous or Woody
    Life Cycle
    Growth Rate
    Mature Size
    Flower Colour
    Flower Type


    1. ? Ewart. A. J. Flora of Victoria. ()
    2. ? Crowe. A. Native Edible Plants of New Zealand. Hodder and Stoughton ISBN 0-340-508302 (1990-00-00)
    3. ? 3.03.1 Tanaka. T. Tanaka's Cyclopaedia of Edible Plants of the World. Keigaku Publishing (1976-00-00)
    4. ? 4.04.1 Hedrick. U. P. Sturtevant's Edible Plants of the World. Dover Publications ISBN 0-486-20459-6 (1972-00-00)
    5. ? 5.05.1 Uphof. J. C. Th. Dictionary of Economic Plants. Weinheim (1959-00-00)
    6. ? Brooker. S. G., Cambie. R. C. and Cooper. R. C. Economic Native Plants of New Zealand. Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-558229-2 (1991-00-00)
    7. ? 7.07.1 Usher. G. A Dictionary of Plants Used by Man. Constable ISBN 0094579202 (1974-00-00)
    8. ? 8.08.1 Facciola. S. Cornucopia - A Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications ISBN 0-9628087-0-9 (1990-00-00)
    9. ? Low. T. Wild Food Plants of Australia. Angus and Robertson. ISBN 0-207-14383-8 (1989-00-00)
    10. ? Wrigley. J. W. and Fagg. M. Australian Native Plants. Collins. (Australia) ISBN 0-7322-0021-0 (1988-00-00)
    11. ? Thomas. G. S. Ornamental Shrubs, Climbers and Bamboos. Murray ISBN 0-7195-5043-2 (1992-00-00)
    12. ? 12.012.1 Taylor. J. The Milder Garden. Dent (1990-00-00)
    13. ? 13.013.1 F. Chittendon. RHS Dictionary of Plants plus Supplement. 1956 Oxford University Press (1951-00-00)
    14. ? ? Flora Europaea Cambridge University Press (1964-00-00)
    15. ? Allan. H. H. Flora of New Zealand. Government Printer, Wellington. (1961-00-00)
    16. ? Huxley. A. The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992. MacMillan Press ISBN 0-333-47494-5 (1992-00-00)