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Solanum_aethiopicum - L.

Common Name Mock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshade
Family Solanaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards 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.
Habitats Not known
Range The original range is uncertain.
Edibility Rating    (2 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Tender Moist Soil Full sun
Solanum_aethiopicum Mock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshade

Solanum_aethiopicum Mock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshade


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Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Solanum_aethiopicum is a deciduous Shrub growing to 2.5 m (8ft 2in).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10 and is frost tender. It is in flower from July to September, and the seeds ripen from August to October. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.



Edible Uses

Fruit - cooked when fully ripe[1, 2, 46, 105]. It can be used like aubergine (Solanum melongena) as a vegetable or as a flavouring for other foods[183]. We have only grown this plant once, the fruits were not at all pleasant, with a distinct bitterness[K]. The fruit is about 25mm in diameter[200]. The very young leaves are said to be edible when cooked[177] though they are bitter[183]. Caution is advised, see the notes above on toxicity.

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

None known

Other Uses

None known

Cultivation details

An easily grown plant, it succeeds in most soils when growing in a sunny position[1]. Cultivated for its edible fruit in northern and central Africa[61], there are some named varieties[183]. This species is not cold-hardy in Britain though it can be grown as an annual, flowering and fruiting in its first year from seed[K]. Slugs really love the young plants and will totally destroy them if given half a chance[K].


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Seed - sow spring in a greenhouse. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots once they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving some protection, such as a cloche, until the plants are growing away strongly[K].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

African scarlet eggplant, Azoko, Ethiopian eggplant, Garden egg, Gilo, Golden apple, Impwa, Kumba, Losuke, Love apple, Mock tomato, Nakasuga, Nakati, Ngogwe, Osun, Ruffed tomato, Tokalu, african aubergine, aubergine amère, bitter tomato, chinese scarlet eggplant, ethiopian eggplant, ethiopian nightshade, garden eggs, gilo, granadillo, jilo, kumba, meloncillo de olor, meloncillo del campo, mock plant, mock tomato, pocotillo, quillo, revienta caballo, röd aubergin, scarlet eggplant, shum, silverleaf nightshade, tomato-fruit eggplant, tutía enano.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Africa, Angola, Asia, Australia, Benin, Botswana, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central Africa, Central African Republic, Chad, China, Comoros, Congo DR, Congo R, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, East Africa, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Europe, France, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinée, Guinea-Bissau, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, North Africa, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Southern Africa, South America*, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, West Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Solanum aethiopicumMock Tomato, Ethiopian nightshade20


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Botanical References


Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

Ian Keeling   Sat Jul 8 2006

Earlier this year I bought "aubergine" seeds from Thompson & Morgan. Research on the Internet has revealed this to be a variety of Solanum aethiopicum. A variety of this is widely grown in Brazil (apparently it was brought there from Africa with the slave trade). There the fruit is harvested young, long before it becomes ripe. Some consider it at its best when it is still yellow - not even green, let alone red, when it becomes far too bitter for most palates. If I get any edible fruit from my plants I'll add my personal experience of it.

Aberra Molla   Mon Jan 15 2007

Ethiopic.com Scientific and common names of some Ethiopian plants.

Rashidah Mubiru   Wed Nov 25 2009

solanum production in uganda and its varieties

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