The solanaceae as food: A natural history of the potato family

By Sandra Knapp

Petunia hybrida

Close-up of the flower of the cultivated petunia, Petunia hybrida.

Potatoes, tomatoes and a host of other important fruit crops all belong to the Solanaceae plant family. But so do mandrakes, daturas and other poisonous and important medicinal plants. Sandra Knapp, of the department of botany at The Natural History Museum, explores the incredible diversity of this amazing plant family, focusing in part one on their use for food, and then for drugs and medicine in part two. Her study demonstrates the considerable contribution these species have made to humankind, in both positive and negative ways.

The solanaceae as food: A natural history of the potato family PDF (97.3 KB)

Cartoon image of a hatchet fish on a museum pass

Until 1938 whale carcasses were buried in the Museum grounds so that their flesh would decay leaving only the skeletons.