Olive Pink Botanic Garden

OPBG Flora > Solanum quadriloculatum | after the rain ◦

After recent significant rain, Solanum quadriloculatum (commonly known as Wild Tomato) could be seen appearing throughout the Olive Pink Botanic Garden, including on the surrounding escarpment. The rainfall (November 2021) was enough to cause the rare occurrence of the Todd River, a normally dry riverbed that flows pass the botanic garden, to fill bank to bank and flow southwards through Heavitree Gap. The rainfall causing the renewed growth and the appearance of wildflowers, such as the Wild Tomato. Their delicate purple hue were a sight to behold in the early morning light on the surrounding hillside.

Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum)
Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs

This particular Solanum is very poisonous and should not be consumed. It is often mistaken for S. ellipticum.

A semi-erect small shrub like plant, under good conditions, they can be seen growing on mass, up to 50 cm high. The leaves can be quite large, have a soft grey-green colour, covered in fine woolly white hairs, with long purplish-black spines. The fruit is angular and spongy when green, becoming light yellow-brown and hard when ripe, then drying out to a bone-like texture.

Extreme care should be taken as the Solanum quadriloculatum is often found growing among edible species and often mistaken for Solanum ellipticum.

There are many Solanum species that resemble Solanum centrale, and only some of them produce edible fruit. Some closely related species produce fruit that are toxic.

The unripe fruit contains the toxin solanine (the same as that found in green potatoes) and must be fully ripened before consumption.

S. sturtianum is poisonous and can usually be recognised by the yellow or black dry brittle fruits. S. quadriloculatum is also poisonous.

Extreme care must be taken when identifying edible food plants and those used in bush medicine. Some bush foods are only edible at different stages of the plant cycle, or when treated appropriately. Bush medicine should only be used under the guidance of a qualified physician. Information here is only provided for research. You should always seek experts in the field to confirm the identification of the plant and whether they are edible or appropriate.

Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum)
Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs
  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Asterids
  • Order: Solanales
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Genus: Solanum
  • Species: S. quadriloculatum
  • Binomial name: Solanum quadriloculatum
Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum), Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs