The Asteridae
Family Overview - Solanales

Solanaceae - the Nightshade Family

Diversity:  Herbs, shrubs, and some trees in about 85 genera and 2,800 species.  Like the Apiaceae, many taxa poisonous but also includes significant foods plants, such as the potato (Solanum tuberosum - Andean), tomato (Solanum lycopersicum - Central America), and American Chili peppers (Capsicum - several species - North and South America).  Toxicity, maily due to various alkaloids, is indicated by tobacco (Nicotiana tabacum), deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), and jimson weed (Datura stramonium).

Distribution:  Worldwide, but with greatest diversity in the western hemisphere. We have 19 genera and 88 species in the Texas flora

Floral structure:

Significant features:  Classic Asteridae in terms of general floral structure with actinomorphy and hypogyny placing it in the genral area of the Solanales and the tendency toward rotate
corollas (esp. in the large [ca. 1,400 species] genus Solanum).  Also, anthers are often conspicuous and anther dehiscence is frequently poricidal. Fruit is either capsular or baccate with axile placentation, usually in two locules.

Floral Structure - Solanum elaeagnifolium (generic overview)

Floral Structure - Physalis cinerascens (generic overview)

flower - close

The Ethnoflora:


Lycopersicon - wild and domesicate (or Solanum)
Capsicum annuum - derived septum (overview of genus)
Nicotiana tabacum from from Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887
Datura stramonium from  Otto Wilhelm Thomé's - Flora von Deutschland Österreich und der Schweiz

More information on the Solanaceae

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