Solanaceae Source

A global taxonomic resource for the nightshade family

Solanum crispum

Citation author: 
Ruiz & Pav.
Fl. peruv. 2: 31, fig. 158a. 1799.
Chile, Concepción: “in Chile ruderatis copiosé in Conceptionis urbis sepibus, et ad Carcamo et Palomares tractus”, Ruiz López & Pavón s.n. (lectotype, MA, designated by Knapp, 1989; isolectotype, MA).
Last edited by: 
Knapp, S.
Written by: 
Knapp, S.
Shrubs or small trees, occasionally (especially in cultivation) lax and scrambling, 0.4-5 m tall; young stems glabrous or pubescent with tiny dendritic trichomes; leaf scars somewhat prominent, the stems not strongly winged from decurrent leaf bases; bark of older stems pale brownish-yellow, glabrous, and shiny. New growth glabrous to densely pubescent with fine, dendritic trichomes.
Sympodial structure: 
Sympodial units plurifoliate, branching monochasial or occasionally dichasial.
Leaves ovate to narrowly ovate, occasionally somewhat elliptic, larger and broader in plants growing in shade and in juvenile plants (see discussion), 2.7-7.5 (10) x 1-3 (7) cm, with 6-12 pairs of secondary veins, the adaxial surfaces of the blades glabrous or with a few dendritic trichomes along the main veins, the abaxial surfaces glabrous or puberulent with dendritic trichomes, these usually denser along the veins, the margins undulate or crispate, the apex acute to acuminate, the base truncate or somewhat cordate, not winged on to the petiole; petiole 0.5-1 (2.2) cm long.
Inflorescences terminal, later appearing lateral from overtopping of shoots, glabrous or sparsely pubescent with dendritic trichomes like those of the stems and leaves, flat-topped or pyramidal, 2-6 cm long, branching 5-7 times, with 10-20 flowers. Pedicels inserted in a sleeve ca. 0.5 mm long, glabrous or with a few scattered dendritic trichomes, nodding at anthesis, 1-1.3 cm long, tapering from a basal diameter of ca. 0.5 mm to an apical diameter of ca. 1 mm. Buds globose when young, later elliptic, the corolla strongly exserted from the calyx tube.
Flowers with the calyx tube conical, 1-1.5 (2) cm long, the lobes deltoid to long-triangular, 0.5-1 mm long, glabrous or with a few scattered dendritic trichomes abaxially, adaxially glabrous; corolla violet, 1.2-2.5 cm in diameter, lobed 3/4 to 7/8 of the way to the base, the lobes planar or somewhat reflexed at anthesis, densely pubescent with simple (in glabrous plants) or dendritic (in pubescent plants) trichomes abaxially, the trichomes denser at the tips of the lobes; stamens with the anthers 3.5-5 mm long, 1-2 mm wide, poridical at the tips, the pores becoming slit-like with age, free portion of the filaments 1-1.5 mm long, glabrous, the filament tube less than 0.5 mm long; ovary glabrous or with a few dendritic and simple trichomes at the apex, especially in otherwise pubescent plants; style 0.6-1 cm long, pubescent with dendritic or simple trichomes along the entire length; stigma clavate or capitate, the surface minutely papillose.
Fruit a globose, bright red berry, with thin pericarp, 0.8-1 cm in diameter; fruiting pedicles woody, deflexed, 1.2-1.6 cm long, ca. 1 mm in diameter at the base.
Seeds reddish-brown, flattened lenticular, ca. 11 per berry, 2-3 mm x 1.5-2 mm, the surfaces minutely pitted.

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.

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