Friday, February 02, 2007

Potato Tree - Solanum wrightii

Last year I noticed that P& Recreation had introduced a couple of plants at road side along Woodlands AV 7 just a few bus stops away. One fast growing shrub with brightly purple white corolla flowers stood out. From afar the foliage reminded me of a nipple plant (Solanum mammosum) or brinjol or egg plant and I watch them almost daily on my bus trip to MRT. I have seen them flowered, and the corolla changed color from purple to white and lately round fruits were dangling underneath the large and torny leaves. Just last night I thumbed through "1001 Garden Plants in Singapore" and after 400+ pages I finally located this burger - Solanum wrightii - potato tree. Today I decided to check them out. It was challenging to take close up images as the passing vehicles created turbulence shaking every leaves and branches. The potato tree had thorns on the undersides of the leave ( nipple plants had theirs on top surfaces) and on the branches too. I have some fun watching wasp (bee?) gathering nectar from puffy-red flowers of another shrub.

Tree Tomato

Flower of potato tree, Solanum wrightii They turned white when wiltered. Contrast this with the flower of a nipple plant

I have a handful - note the prominent woody 'sepal'

It does resemble tomato...

I have to use a hammer to hit the of the knife to cut through the hard woody sepal.

Seedpod of the red puffy flower of Powerderpuff , Calliandra emarginata.

Just want to document this white flowers with leaves that wiltered red - Kopsia flavida / K. arborea - Penang Sloe

Back side look of the Powerpuff flower. I watched solitary bee/wasp burrowing through the puffy red mass to get to the nectar.

A flora( Mussaenda philippicd) in hand is worth ten in the bushes (?)


Anonymous said...

I would like to know if you could eat the fruits of the Tree Tomato - Solanum wrightii or the fruits are poission ???

darkmatter said...

I dont know whether they are edible or not but does not look inviting for a bite.

Anonymous said...

You have to wait until they are red. Those ones you cut open aren't nearly ripe enough yet. You can eat them raw with a spoon, but they're nice stewed with honey or sugar. The flavour is hard to describe, but is quite bitter/tart.
They usually go by the name "tamarillo".

darkmatter said...

My mistake - i should have labeled this as Potato tree but had inadvertently label as Tree tomato. You can find out more using the botanic name.

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