Solanaceae Family Plants, Characteristics & Economic Importance

Night Shade or Potato Family

Solanaceae family has about 90 genera and 2000 species. These plants are distributed in temperate and tropical areas. 14 genera and 52 species of this family are present in Pakistan.

Solanaceae Family Plants Examples

  • Solanum tubersum: potato
  • Nicotiana tobacum: Tobacco
  • Lycopersicum esculentum: Tomato
  • Capsicum frutescens: Red pepper

Vegetative characteristics

  1. This family contains herbs, shrubs, sometimes trees, and vines.
  2. The stem is hairy or prickly.
  3. Leaves are alternate and rarely opposite. The leaves are simple, petiolate, and rarely sessile (without petiole).

Floral characteristics

  1. Inflorescence: They form a typical axillary cyme or combination of cymes. Sometimes they form helicoids or axillary umbellate cymes.
  2. Flower: Flowers are mostly bisexual, usually actinomorphic or weakly zygomorphic, hypogynous, and usually pentamerous.
  3. Calyx: They have E united, persistent sepals.
  4. Corolla: They have 5 petals. Corolla may be rotated to tubular.
  5. Androecium: Androecium is didynamous i.e. they are arranged in two whorls and each whorl has 2 stamens.
  6. Gynaecium: They have compound pistil. Each pistil has two united carpels. The ovary is superior and obliquely placed. It is bilocular or it becomes imperfectly 4 Iocular by the formation of the false septum. The placentation is axile.

Economic Importance of Solanaceae

  1. Food: Many plants in this family are used as food.
  • Solanum tubersum (potato-white or Irish potato): It is an important plant in this family. It is used as food. The people of Ireland completely depend on the potato for food.
  • Lycopersicum esculentum (tomato): Once it was believed to be a poisonous plant. Now it is used as a vegetable.
  • Solanum melange (egg, plant, or brinjal): It is also used as food.
  • Capsicum annum and Capsicum frutescent are rich in vitamin C and Vitamin A. They are used as condiments.
  • Physalis (Ground-Cherry): it produces edible fruit. This fruit is enclosed in a bladder-like calyx called the husk. So it is called husk tomato.
  1. Tobacco Nicotiana tobacum (tobacco) has great commercial value. Its leaves are dried and made into tobacco. This tobacco is used for making cigarettes.
  2. Medicinal plants: Many members of this family produce powerful alkaloids e.g. Atropa belladonna, Datura _are rich in atropine, and daturines. These are used in many medicines.
  3. Ornamental Plants: Many plants are cultivated in the gardens for their beautiful flowers. Examples: Petunia, Nicotiana, Cestrum, and Solanum, etc.
  4. Weed: Some plants are weeds, e.g. Solanum nigrum.

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