Solanum aphyodendron S. Knapp

Solanaceae– Tomato family



– a 2-5 m treelet, no spines

– paired glabrous leaves less than 5 cm wide,

– rank odor

Description. Treelet, 2-5 m; leaves often paired, to 4 x 12 cm, glabrous, lanceolate, with a strong rank odor when shredded; flowers 1 cm, white with yellow anthers; fruit to 1.5 cm, globose, green to dull yellow when mature with many flat seeds.

Similar species. Several other glabrous and spineless species of Solanum treelets occur in the area, including S. brenesii, S. pastillum, S. rovirosanum, and S. tuerckheimii. Of these, S. rovirosanum with obovate 15-30 cm leaves (wetter forest above 1400 m) and S. brenesii with large lance-elliptic leaves (drier forest at 700-1350 m) are the species most likely to be encountered.

Local distribution. Pacific slope at 1200-1600 m; Atlantic slope at 1100-1600 m.

Habitat. Old pasture, roadside and forest edge.

Species range. Mexico to Bolivia.

Abundance. Common

Phenology. Flower: Apr-Oct; Fruit: Aug-Dec.

Herbivores. Episcada salvinia, Pteronymia simplex (Ithomiinae)

Pollinators. Bees

Seed dispersers. Bats

Comments. This tree was identified years ago as S. nudum, which is now considered to be a distinct species restricted to South America. S. aphyodendron is abundant in areas of early succession. The torn leaves produce a strong, acrid odor. As in other species of Solanum, the flowers do not produce nectar and offer pollen as the only reward to visitors, which tends to elliminate almost everything but bees. The bees hold the anthers in their mandibles and vibrate them using their wing muscles to make the pollen issue out of the tiny pores at the anther's tip. Bats remove the fruits so consistently that ripe fruits are seldom seen.

Voucher No. Haber 652

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Images and text copyright © 2001 by William A. Haber,
Created: 21 February 2001. Updated: 12 May 2001.