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The wild spiny aubergine hunt

2 Posts tagged with the solanum_usaramense tag

Market in Korogwe.jpg

Market in Korogwe, selling Solanum villosum (green vegetable) and Solanum aethiopicum (yellow and red fruits)


Bomandini is the classic tropical beach paradise. We drove down a dirt track to look for Solanum usaramense, collected there 50 years ago. Soil here is different, with pieces of coral with red sand and clay, and the forest looks greener, which may be a good sign. I showed a photograph of a similar plant to local boys, and they recognised it! Solanum usaramense was a tangled mass of dry spiny branches, with tiny new shoot growths, and no fruits or flowers. I would have never found it myself. Catelephoni Joni says the flowers appear after the rain, but goats love this plant and they eat flowers and fruits straight away so there is nothing left.


After collecting Solanum usaramense we rested and looked around the beautiful beach. Looking forward to tomorrow, West Usambara Mountains!


Catelephoni Joni.jpg

Catelephoni Joni holding Solanum usaramense – goats love it so no flowers or fruits are left.


We spent all day searching dry coastal forests and beach thickets in the Pangani area, looking for Solanum usaramense. Everything in the costal forest is spiny, it is dry and hot, and it is difficult to move forward because of all the lianas. The only thing we found was cultivated aubergines (Solanum melongena). Frustrating. We came to Tanzania in March because it is the middle of the long wet season and everything should be in flower. Unfortunately this year the rains are late and everything is dry. I am worried that it is too dry for Solanum usaramense to have any flowers and fruits - if there is nothing except branches and small leaves it is almost impossible to recognise it among all the other vegetation. I wanted to give up and go to wetter upland forest tomorrow, but colleagues persuaded me to try again tomorrow.


Carissa edulis.jpg

Dry coastal forest is spiny: Carissa edulis



Member since: Mar 18, 2010

I'm Maria Vorontsova from the Botany Department. Join me as I head to Tanzania and Kenya to hunt for wild spiny aubergines. I'm looking forward to an interesting journey, some interesting company and some interesting finds.

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