Solanum aviculare (SOLANACEAE); Kangaroo apple

Image: Habit
Image: Spent flower with emerging "apple"
Image: Fruit inflorescence

Image: Habit

Photo: Derek Boddington 2001
Soft-wooded shrub growing to 4m found in margins of subtropical rainforest and as a regrowth plant in cleared scrubby areas. Common in moist regions of eastern and southern Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.

Simple leaves, alternate, margins entire or deeply lobed, uppermost leaves often entire. The blade is soft and thin, hairless. Leaves are lanceolate, lobes tapering to a point at apex, 15-20 cm long.

The species is fast-growing and can be a useful screen plant. Can be propagated from either seeds or cuttings.

Other common names: Poroporo, Bullibul, Bullibulli (NZ)

Image: Spent flower with emerging "apple"Back to top

Photo: Derek Boddington 2005
Flowers large, corolla 25-40mm across, on slender stalks to 20cm long; open, with five mauve or violet-blue petals; anthers also five, yellow or orange about 4.5mm long; arranged in axillary or terminal racemes of up to 10 flowers.

Flowering for several months during the year.

Image: Fruit inflorescenceBack to top

Photo: Derek Boddington 2001
Fruit is an ovoid or ellipsoid berry up to 2 cm long, turning yellow-orange to red when ripe with numerous flat seeds.

Ripe over several months during the year.

The pulp of the fruit is sickly-sweet but with a bitter after-taste. Berries must be absolutely ripe to be edible. The unripe fruit is said to be poisonous. (Ewart. A. J. in Flora of Victoria). The quality (of the fruit) varies from plant to plant and even from year to year from the same plant. (Low. T. Wild Food Plants of Australia 1989)

The unripe berries are used in pharmacy as steroid precursors for the synthesis of contraceptives and corticosteroids.

Solanum - Latin for solace, quietude; referring to the narcotic properties of some nightshade species.