The common name of Wild Tomato to describe the species Solanum quadriloculatum should be treated with care, as this particular Solanum is very poisonous. Extreme care should be taken, as this species can be found growing among edible species of Solanum and in is often mistaken for Solanum ellipticum.

Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum)
Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum), Alice Springs, NT

Solanum quadriloculatum is a semi-erect small shrub like plant that grows up to 50 cm high. The leaves are a soft grey-green colour, almost woolly with white hairs, as well as long purplish-black spines. The fruit is angular and spongy when green, becoming light yellow-brown and hard when ripe, drying out to a bone-like texture.

If you are not an expert at identifying the plant, ‘DO NOT’ eat the fruit, as some Solanum species that look similar, are toxic.

In the Solanum species, the unripe fruit contains the toxin solanine (the same as that found in green potatoes). Only a select few species of Solanum produce edible fruit when fully ripen. Others remain toxic.

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

  • 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)
Wild Tomato (Solanum quadriloculatum) on the hillside at Olive Pink Botanic Garden, Alice Springs

Footnote & References

  1. Solanum quadriloculatum, Australian Solanum species, eFlora SA,