Chile from Quillota south to the island of Chiloé, from 10-2500 m elevation. Solanum crispum is also known from scattered collections in Argentina along the border with Chile. Solanum crispum grows in Nothofagus forest, often in second growth, and in a wide variety of moist microsites in otherwise dry habitats,
Solanum crispum is a member of the Solanum nitidum species group of the Dulcamaroid clade (Bohs, 2005).
Solanum crispum is one of the most variable and is the most southerly species of the Solanum nitidum species group, occurring to 43 degrees S latitude. It also has a huge elevational range, occurring from sea level to nearly 3000 m in a wide variety of habitats. Two pubescence forms occur throughout the range of S. crispum: glabrous plants have traditionally been called S. crispum and pubescent ones S. congestiflorum. Specimens of intermediate pubescence are rare, but the new growth of glabrous plants is always dendritic-pubescent. In a cladistic analysis (Knapp, 1989) the two forms were treated as separate, but were strongly resolved as sister taxa. Pubescence may have to do with habitat, but this effect ahs not been studied in any detail. The pubescent form often has larger, more repand leaves than does the glabrous form. This raises the intriguing possibility that the pubescent form is paedomorphic, retaining the shape and indument of juvenile leaves.
Medicinal uses of Solanum crispum have been recorded for over two centuries, beginning with Ruiz & Pavón in Flora Peruviana in 1977, where the plant was reported to be used as a febrifuge. It has been reported as used against the fevers called ‘congo’ and ‘chavalongo’.
Solanum crispum has been cultivated in the United Kingdom since the early part of the 19th century. Specimens were introduced to Kew Gardens from the island of Chiloé (Chile) by Mr. Anderson (Hooker, 1844) and a variety still in cultivation today was developed at the Glasnevin Botanic Gardens in Dublin. Solanum crispum is usually classed as a climber, but this is due to its lanky habit in the British climate. It does not possess twining stems, petioles or tendrils of a true climber.
Hooker, J.D. 1841. Solanum crispum. Wavy Solanum.
Curtis’s Bot. Mag. 67(n.s.14): 3795.
Knapp, S. 1989. A revision of the Solanum nitidum species group (section Holophylla pro parte: Solanaceae).
Bull. Br. Mus. Nat. Hist. (Bot.) 19: 63-112.
Bohs, L. 2005. Major clades in Solanum based on ndhF sequences.
Pp. 27-49 in R. C. Keating, V. C. Hollowell, & T. B. Croat (eds.), A festschrift for William G. D’Arcy: the legacy of a taxonomist. Monographs in Systematic Botany from the Missouri Botanical Garden, Vol. 104. Missouri Botanical Garden Press, St. Louis.