Plants herbaceous, rarely shrubby, with a colorless juice and alternate leaves. Flowers mostly regular, often extra-axillary, 5-parted, on bractless pedicels. Corolla valvate or plicate in the bud and often convolute. Calyx persistent. Stamens 5, adherent to the corolla tube, alternate with its lobes; anthers 2-celled. Fruit a 2-celled capsule or berry. Seeds ∞, with a curved embryo in fleshy albumen.
Illust. in Figs. 54, 322.
Genera C4, species 1000 or more (1675, Dunal.), generally diffused, but most abundant in the tropics.
Properties highly important. A large portion of the genera are pervaded by a narcotic principle, rendering the herbage and fruit dangerously poisonous, yet furnishing some of the most active medicines, as the Henbane (Hyoscyamus), Belladonna (Atropa), Stramonium (Datura), Tobacco (Nicotiana), etc. At the same time several species or Solatium afford wholesome and nutritious food, not because they are free from the narcotic principle, but because it is expelled in the process of cooking or ripening in the sun. Such are the tubers of the invaluable Potato, the fruit of the Tomato and Egg plant. The genus Capsicum is entirely free from nareotine, and produces the well-known stimulant fruit Cayenne Pepper.
§ Corolla wheel-shaped, the tube very short. Anthers convergent (a).
§ Corolla bell-shaped, the broad tube including the erect anthers (b).
§ Corolla funnel-form, tube long, and - the limb somewhat irregular (c).
- the limb quite regular (d).
a Stamens connate, opening by slits inside. Berry torous.................
a Stamens connivent, opening by terminal pores. Berry round.........
a Stamens connivent, opening by slits. Berry dryish, angular...........
b Corolla bluish. Berry dry, inclosed in the enlarged calyx........
b Corolla yellowish. Berry juicy, inclosed in the enlarged calyx...
b Corolla purplish. Berry black, sitting on the open calyx...............
c Stamens exserted, declining. Capsule opening by a lid......
c Stamens included, unequal. Capsule opening by valves.....
d Stamens exserted, growing to the summit of the tube........................
d Stamens exserted, growing to the bottom of the tube......................
d Stamens included. - Calyx 5-angled. Capsule spiny or smooth......
- Calyx terte. Stigma capitate............................
- Calyx teretish. Stigma 2-lobed. Flowers small...
1. LYCOPER'SICUM, Tourn. Tomato. (Gr. a wolf, a peach; a fanciful name.) Calyx 5 to 6 to go parted; corolla rotate, with a short tube and a plicate-valvate limb; stamens 5 to 6 to∞ , exserted; anthers connate at apex, longitudinally dehiscent on the inner face; berry fleshy, 2 to 3 to ∞-celled. - Lvs. pinnately compound. Ped. extra-axillary, co-flowered.
L. esculentum Mill. Hairy; st. herbaceous, weak; lvs. unequally pinnatifid. segments cut, glaucous beneath; cor. many-lobed; fr. torulous, furrowed, smooth. - This plant resembles the potato in its general aspect. It grows 3 - 4f high, with jagged leaves, greenish-yellow flowers, and an unpleasant odor. The fruit is large and abundant, with acute furrows, at first green, becoming when ripe of a beautiful red. This plant has come into high repute, and its cultivation is almost universal, for its agreeable and wholesome fruit, which presents numerous varieties of form, size and color.
2. SOLA'NUM, L. Potato. (Solum, the ground or soil.) Calyx 5-parted, persistent; corolla rotate, subeampanulate, tube very short, limb plicate, 5-cleft, lobed or angular; anthers erect, connivent, distinct, opening at the top by 2 pores; berry 2-celled, subglobous or depressed; seeds ∞. - An immense genus of herbs or shrubs, unarmed of prickly. Lvs. sometimes twin, pinnatifld or undivided. Ped. solitary or several, 1 to ∞-flowered, terminal, but becoming lateral by the extension of the axis.
§ Unarmed, Anthers ovate-elliptic, pores terminal-introrse (a).
a Herbaceous, with pinnatifid leaves. Raceme exceeding the leaves......
a Herbaceous, with undivided leaves, Raceme shorter than the leaves..
Nos. 2 - 4
a Shrubby, climbing or erect. Berries red...................................................
Nos. 5 - 7
§ Armed with sharp spines. Anthers linear-oblong, pores terminal-extrorse (b).
b Peduncles exceeding the leaves, many - flowered..................
Nos. 8, 9
b Peduncles shorter than the leaves, few - flowered....................
1 S. tuberosum L. Common Potato. St. herbaceous; subterranean branches bearing tubers; lvs. pinnatifld, segm. unequal, the alternate ones minute; cor. 5-angled; pedicels jointed. - This valuable plant is a native of the Cordilleras of S. America, where it still grows wild. Although it now constitutes so large a portion of the food of civilized man, it was scarcely known until the 17th century, and was not extensively cultivated before the middle of the 18th. The varieties of the potato are very numerous, differing in their time of ripening, quality, color, form, size, almost endlessly.
2 S. nigrum L. Black Nightshade. St. herbaceous, angular, smoothish; lvs. ovate, toothed and waved; umbels lateral, drooping. - A weed-like plant, without beauty and of suspicious aspect, about rubbish, in old fields, N. and W. States. Stem erect, branching, angular, a foot high. Leaves almost always with the lamina perforated and the margin erose as if gnawed by insects. Ped. generally midway between the leaves. Fls. white, anthers yellow. Berries globous, black. Reputed poisonous, but is used medicinally. Flowers in summer §Eur.
3 S. nodiflorum Jacq. St. herbaceous or half-shrubby, branched; branches terete, herbaceous, glabrous; lvs. ovate, entire, or subrepand, acute, glabrous; fls. subumbellate, minute; stalks and cal. puberulent. - S. Car. to Fla. and La. Stem 2 to 3f high, with a ridge descending from each petiole. Lvs. 2 to 47 long, half as wide, petioles near 1'. Ped. filiform, 6 to 12" long, growing from thickened nodes a little below the next leaf, bearing several (3 to 8) white fls. Cor. cup-form, 2" broad. Fr. not seen.
4 S. pyenanthum Dunal. St. herbaceous, slender, angular-furrowed, hispid; lvs. ovate-oblong, acuminate, attenuate to a petiole, subrepand, puberulent, pale beneath; ped. short, filiform, hirsute, 1 to 3-flowered, subopposite to the leaves. - Ga. about Savannah (Dunal, apud DC. Sed dubito.) Plant green. Lvs. 1 to 2' by 3 to 8", petioles 2 to 5". Fls. nodding, 2 to 3 ' broad, white? Anthers yellow. Berry globular.
5 S. Dulcamara L. Bittersweet. Woody Nightshade. St. shrubby, flexu-ous; lvs. ovate-cordate, upper ones hastate or laciniate: clusters cymous, subopposite and terminal. - A well-known shrubby climber, with blue flowers and red berries, N. Eng. to Ark. Stem branching, several feet in length, climbing about hedges and thickets in low grounds. Lower leaves entire; the upper ones becoming auriculate or hastate. Flowers drooping, on branching peduncles from the side of the stem. Corolla of 5 reflexed segments, purple, with 2 green spots at the base of each segment. Berries bright red, said to be poisonous. Jl. § Eur.
6 S. Pseudo-Capsicum L. Jerusalem Cherry. St. shrubby; lvs. oblong-lanceolate, subrepand; ped. 1-flowered, opposite the leaves. - A small, ornamental shrub, cultivated. Stem 2 - 4f high, branching into a symmetrical summit. Leaves dark evergreen, smooth and shining, about 2' long. Flowers white, with orange anthers, drooping, succeeded by a few scarlet, globous berries of the size of small cherries † Mauritius, etc.