1Solanaceae – Nightshade Family 1Taxonomy

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1Solanaceae – Nightshade Family


The family Solanaceae belongs to the division Magnoliophyta, to the class Dicotyledonae, the Subclass Asteridae and the Order Solanales. Over 2000 Species in about 95 Genera can be found.



Most members of the Solanaceae are erect or climbing, annual or perennial herbs, but shrubs are not uncommon and there are a few trees.


The leaves vary greatly in shape but are usually simple, although sometimes highly lobed. Solanaceae species can be found with a basal aggregation of leaves, with neither basal nor terminal aggregations of leaves, or with terminal aggregations of leaves. The leaves are alternate, or alternate to opposite. Then they are usually alternate below, but often becoming opposite towards the inflorescence.

1.2.3Inflorescence, Flowers, Fruit

The inflorescence is generally cymose and axillary, but may be reduced to a single flower. The flowers are bisexual, usually radially symmetric, and usually 5-merous. The calyx is united, at least at the base, and sometimes becomes inflated in fruit. The corolla is also united but its shape varies from long and tubular to rotate or campanulate. It is usually radially symmetric, but there are some bilaterally symmetric genera. There are 5 (rarely 4-8) stamens that alternate with the corolla lobes. The anthers are sometimes touching but are never fused. The fruit is a usually a berry but quite frequently a dry capsule.


The Solanaceae is a cosmopolitan family, occurring in tropical and temperate regions throughout the world. Its greatest center of diversity is in central and northern South America, but there is a secondary center in Australia.

1.4Representative genera and species

The most representative and well-known genera are Solanum and Nicotina with great economical interest.

Solanum sodomaeum Nicotiana glauca



The products, which are gained from Solanacea, include potato and eggplant (Solanum spp.) tomato (Lycopersicon) and other edible fruits, such as from the Physalis generum gooseberry, strawberry, jamberberry, sugar cherry, chinese lantern and from Capsicum sweet and chilli peppers. Most Solanaceae species produce poisonous alkaloids, and some are commercially important in this connection such as tobacco (Nicotiana, Hyoscyamus, Datura) and have valuable medicinal properties, but which may also be extremely poisonous. Examples include Atropa (belladonna or deadly nightshade), Datura stramonium (jimson weed), Mandragora offinalis (mandrake), and Hyoscyamus niger(black henbane). Nicotine is a tropane alkaloid. It makes a great insecticide. The Solanaceae also includes many genera with ornamental species. These include Browallia, Physalis, Schizanthus, and Petunia. Other species, often in the same genera, are weeds. Examples include species of Physalis, Hyoscyamus, and Solanum.

1.6History, Poems

The pipe, with solemn interposing puff,

Makes half a sentence at a time enough

(William Cowper, ‘Tobacco’)


Thus potatoes also belong to the Solanaceae family they also include chaconine and solanine, which at high levels can block nerve transmission. Most potatoes sold for consumption have about 15 milligrams total of both chaconine and solanine in a 200-gram potato. Therefore one should avoid eating green potatoes. Exposure to light or stress causes transformation of a potato's amyloplasts to chloroplasts, which cause the potato to produce chaconine and solanine.

Therefore keep in mind:

When potatoes, leaves, or haulms are green,

To livestock must they ne’er be gi’en

(ancient anon, re. solanine poisoning.)


1.7Literature used

  • Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M. J. (1992 onwards). ‘The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval.’ Version: 19th August 1999. http://biodiversity.uno.edu/delta/.

  • http://www.biology.usu.edu/herbarium/Families/Solanac.htm

  • http://www.plants.montara.com/ListPages/FamPages/Solana.html

  • http://www.euronet.nl/users/mbleeker/folis/bsmain-e.html

2Scrophulariaceae – Figwort Family

The common name for the plant family Scrophulariaceae is figwort, comprising about 227 genera and 4450 species of mostly temperate herbs.


The family Scrophulariaceae belongs to the division Magnoliophyta, the Class Dicotyledonae, the Subclass Asteridae and the Order Scrophulariales.



The plants are coarse, strong-smelling, mostly perennial or biennial herbs, shrubs, trees or lianas with four-angled stems and small, rather inconspicuous flowers borne at the stem tips. The plants may be succulent, or non-succulent; totally parasitic, partially parasitic or autotrophic.


The leaves can be found in different shapes: leathery or fleshy, petiolate to sessile, they may be alternate, opposite or whorled.

2.2.3Inflorescence, Flowers, Fruit

Flowers and fruit vary from species to species. Mostly they have5 or 4 sepal, 5 or 4 petals and 2-5 stamens. The flower may be actimorphic, but mostly sygomorphic. Then it constists of two lips, of which the lower lip closes the opening of the corolla.


Scrophularia is widely distributed from the frigid to the tropical zone. The habitats are mostly walls and other well-drained sites, shady rocks and woods.

2.4Representative genera and species

Scrophularia, the most important genus of about 200 species of plants, is widely distributed in the northern hemisphere but mainly in Eurasia. A few species are cultivated as border plants.

Other important members of the figwort family include the calceolaria, Calceolaria, the foxglove, Digitalis; the monkey flower, Mimulus; the snapdragon, Antirrhinum; and the speedwell, Veronica. The common foxglove, D. purpurea, yields the important heart medication digitalis.

Antirrhium majus Digitalis grandiflors Verbacum nigrum

snap-dragon Fox glove

Veronica filiformes




Many are poisonous and a few are (e.g. Digitalis) or have been used for medicine purposes. Some species were once thought to be useful in treating scrofula, a form of tuberculosis, hence the generic name. The Genera Halleria has edible fruit. Many Genera constitute important ornamentals, and Limnophila (‘Ambulia’) is valuable in aquaria.

2.6History, Poems

Snap dragons gaping like to sleeping clowns

(John Clare 1827, ‘The Shepherd’s Calendar’, June)


2.7Literature used

  • Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M. J. (1992 onwards). ‘The Families of Flowering Plants: Descriptions, Illustrations, Identification, and Information Retrieval.’ Version: 19th August 1999. http://biodiversity.uno.edu/delta/

  • http://www.fwkc.com/encyclopedia/low/articles/s/s023000937f.html

  • http://www.euronet.nl/users/mbleeker/folis/bsmain-e.html

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