Solanum phoxocarpum is a tree or shrub 3–6m tall, with several spiny stems growing out of the ground.
It grows at high altitudes in Kenyan and Tanzanian mountains, where it can be found in woodland above 2,100m.
There are large curved prickles on the main stems and the fruits are unusual conical berries, each fruit containing about 30 kidney-shaped seeds.
Like other Solanum species, this plant is pollinated by bees, which ‘buzz’ the anthers causing pollen to shoot out of holes at the anther tips.
Solanum phoxocarpum shrubs. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya. © Maria Vorontsova
In spite of the protection by National Parks in Kenya and Tanzania the populations of Solanum phoxocarpum are decreasing with the destruction of the highland forests.
Solanum phoxocarpum grows primarily in Kenya with some occurrence in Tanzania. It is endemic to the East African Rift Valley, including:
Solanum phoxocarpum has an unusual appearance, with strange pointy yellow fruits, mauve flowers and large curved prickles on its stems. Take a closer look at this striking plant and its close relatives.
Solanum phoxocarpum is pollinated by bees, which collect the ripe pollen by landing on the plant’s anthers and vibrating, causing the pollen to shoot out. Find out more.
Find out what Solanum phoxocarpum can be used for.
Solanum phoxocarpum is not currently at risk of extinction, but it is likely to decline as its habitat disappears. Find out more.
Get reference material for Solanum phoxocarpum.
Cross-section of the unusual Solanum phoxocarpum fruit. A pen used here as a scaling object. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Solanum phoxocarpum - the conical pointed fruits. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
A female fertile Solanum phoxocarpum flower, the long style visible between the anthers. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Shrubs of Solanum phoxocarpum growing by the path. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Solanum phoxocarpum plant with several fruits visible. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Male fertile Solanum phoxocarpum flower, with anthers but no style visible in the middle. Aberdare Mountains, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Solanum phoxocarpum fruits collected by the Kenya Seeds for Life project, waiting for the seeds to be prepared for storage. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.© Maria Vorontsova
Researching the spiny Solanum of Africa and Madagascar using traditional botanical systematics techniques.
"It is 2010, and there are still spiny trees out there completely not known to science!"
A covering of hairs.
Branch bearing fruits.
Adjective describing anthers with openings at the tips.
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