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The wild spiny aubergine hunt

2 Posts tagged with the solanum-schumannianum tag

Solanum schumanninaum in the dark shady forest near Lulando has the long purple bristles I have seen on herbarium specimens. Similar plants growing in the sun do not have those bristles. Maybe it is an effect of the sun, but I have only seen a few individuals so it is difficult to judge – possibly they are different species. We have also found the spiny climber Solanum burtt-davyi today, very productive day.


I am impressed by the system of local counsel governance here. For every small council area six councillors are elected, and two of them must be female. The female governor of Lulando village helped us organise the trip to find Solanum burtt-davyi. If you are employed by a government organisation in Tanzania, you are automatically entitled to loans from the government, and your workplace pays for holiday tickets back to your local village - for you as well as all your family.



Solanum schumannianum has long purple bristles when it grows under forest canopy, but the individuals we have seen outside forests don’t have any bristles.



Frank pulled down the long liana Solanum burtt-davyi. The hooked prickles stay in your fingers, and the plant uses these prickles to hold on to other vegetation as it climbs.


The weird Sausage Tree

Posted by mariavorontsova Apr 6, 2010


Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana. The “sausages” is up to 40 cm long and are eaten by elephants.


We have been searching for Solanum schumannianum around the edges of wet forests but could not find it until today. There are numerous collections and I thought it would be common, but we just could not see it. Most Solanum species have a distinctive branching pattern so it is possible to spot them from a distance, but this species appears very similar to a common roadside Vernonia shrub. I did not realise this was a Solanum until I was standing right next to it.


The best part of the day was seeing the Sausage Tree, Kigelia africana.  I have never seen it in the wild with fruit and today I saw it for the first time. The fruits hang on inflorescences several metres long looking a bit like sausages suspended on strings. It looks so amazing and bizzare. The Southern Highlands contain many plants native to southern Africa, very different from vegetation in northern Tanzania – the Sausage Tree is part of this southern vegetation type, as well as a few Protea species we saw on the way.



Solanum schumannianum growing under a tree in the Mbeya mountain range. Its leaves look similar to many other species so it is difficult to notice it from the road.