Solanaceae Source

A global taxonomic resource for the nightshade family

Solanum etuberosum

Citation author: 
Edward's Bot. Reg. 20: t. 1712, 1835.
Chile. Prov. Unknown: Grown in Scotland from seed sent from Chile to the Horticultural Society of Scotland (holotype: CGE [photos: F! G!]).
Last edited by: 
Spooner, D.M.
Written by: 
Spooner, D.M.
Herbaceous rhizomatous perennials, rhizomes branched or unbranched, up to 1 cm in diameter and up to 10 cm long, plants erect and sometimes becoming trailing, up to 1 m long. Stems branched, terete to angular, light yellowish-green to gray-green, sometimes tinged or mottled with purple, up to 2 cm wide at base, green to purple, densely glandular pubescent, glandular with short glands with a four-celled tip (type A glands) and longer glands with a single celled tip (type B glands).
Sympodial structure: 
Sympodial units typically 3-6-foliate.
Pseudostipules to 20 mm long and 15 mm wide, semi-lunate and clasping the stem. Leaves odd-pinnate, up to 35 cm long and 15 cm wide, glabrescent to more commonly moderately to densely glandular-pubescent, sometimes with both Type A and Type B glands adaxially and abaxially; petiolate, lateral leaflet pairs 4-6, subequal and somewhat decreasing in size from the middle to the apex and base, the basal pair usually the more reduced, light yellowish-green to gray-green; middle lateral leaflets 5-10 cm long, 1.5-4 cm wide, elliptic to lanceolate to narrowly ovate, apex acute to acuminate, base cuneate to obliquely rounded to obliquely cordate, sessile to petiolulate with petiolules up to 10 mm long, terminal leaflet nearly the same size and shape as the middle lateral leaflets or slightly wider and more ovate, interjected leaflets 1-8, to 2 cm long and 2 cm wide.
Inflorescence a dichasially branched, ebracteate, monochasial or dichasial cyme, 2-3 forked, generally in the distal half of the plant, with 12-35 flowers, puberulent, all flowers perfect, peduncle 1-8 cm long; pedicels 6-20 mm long, typically articulate at the very base, but rarely slightly above the base.
Flowers with the calyx 5-8 mm long, symmetrically 5-lobed at about the middle, lobes oblong, apiculate to caudate, acumens (0.5) 1-1.2 (2.8) mm long. Corollas 2.2-3.5 cm in diameter, rotate to rotate- pentagonal, usually homogeneously violet. Anthers 5-7 mm long, lanceolate, connate, yellow, apically poricidally dehiscent and often maturing to a short introrse apical slit, filaments 1-4 mm long. Ovary globose, with style 8-11 mm long, exceeding the stamens, straight, with stigma globose.
Fruits 1.0-1.3 cm in diameter, globose, green to deep purple.
Seeds from living specimens uniformly green-white externally, ovoid, ca 2 mm long, with a thick covering of “hair-like” lateral walls of the testal cells that make the seeds mucilaginous when wet. Removal of these hair-like lateral walls by enzyme digestion reveals a honeycomb pattern at their base.
Chromosome number: 

2n = ploidy missing =24 voucher missing = (Spooner & Hijmans 2001)


Chile: Central Chile, from Región V- Región IX, in the foothills and mid to upper slopes of the Andes Mountains; in areas of low, dry scrub forest, along streams or in the mists of waterfalls, always in full sun and usually in rocky soils, 4340-2500 m.

Flowering from December through March.

The intrageneric relationships of sect. Etuberosum has been the subject of debate. Juzepczuk and Bukasov (1929) were the first to informally group species in "ser. Etuberosa," which they placed within sect. Petota (then invalidly referred to as sect. Tuberarium [Dunal] Bitter). Bukasov (1939) informally grouped ser. Etuberosa in "Estolonifera," and the remaining tuber-bearing species in "Stolonifera." Bukasov and Kameraz (1959) validated the name ser. Etuberosa Buk. and Kameraz. Correll (1962), D’Arcy (1991), and Hawkes (1990) placed ser. Etuberosa in sect. Petota. Hawkes (1989) validated subsection Estolonifera Hawkes and subsection Stolonifera Hawkes and placed both under sect. Petota. Child (1990) transferred ser. Etuberosa to sectional rank. Chloroplast DNA data (Spooner et al., 1993) and GBSSI (waxy) sequence data (Peralta and Spooner, 2001) of sect. Etuberosum, sect. Petota, Lycopersicon L., and other near relatives in subgenus Potatoe 1) supports sect. Etuberosum and sect. Petota as separate clades, 2) shows subsection Estolonifera to be paraphyletic (Spooner et al., 1993), and 3) shows sect. Etuberosum to be sister to the tomato + potato clade.


All three species of Solanum sect. Etuberosum (S. etuberosum, S. fernandezianum, S. palustre) are diploid (2n = 2x = 24), morphologically very similar, and are distinguished by a complex of sometimes overlapping character states. Previous treatments (Correll, 1962; Hawkes, 1990; Montaldo and Sanz, 1962) recognized five species, but Contreras-M. and Spooner (1999) reduced the number of species to three. The distinguishing characters of colors and pubescence are much easier to discern in living material, and dried specimens may be difficult to identify. Solanum fernandezianum and S. palustre always have a conspicuous purple dot on fresh mature seeds that is always absent on S. etuberosum; but this character is not evident from dried seeds, and seeds rarely are present on herbarium material. A hand lens or stereoscopic microscope is needed to distinguish the glabrous to sometimes sparsely puberulent leaves of S. fernandezianum from the usually moderately to more densely pubescent leaves of S. etuberosum and S. palustre. The small anthers and included styles distinguish S. fernandezianum from S. etuberosum and S. palustre, and the length of the calyx acumens usually distinguishes S. etuberosum and S. palustre.

The type of Solanum tuberosum var. polemoniifolium is said to come from Mendoza, Argentina. Mendoza is located on the eastern side of the Andes Mountains northeast of Santiago, Chile. Solanum etuberosum is not known from Mendoza, and it is likely that the type was collected in the Andes Mountains of Chile, southwest of Mendoza. No collection date is provided on the type, but J[ohn] Gillies collected in Argentina and Chile from 1823-1834 (Lanjouw and Stafleu, 1957).

There is confusion regarding numbers on the type of Solanum etuberosum var. antucense. The number "62" appears in the original description, and "62" and "Diar. 715" appear on printed herbarium labels. The number "780" also appears on handwritten labels. Poeppig’s (1834, 1836) personal itineraries do not clarify these numbers. Urban (1896) mentions Poeppig’s Chile collections labeled as “E.F. Poeppig Coll. Pl. Chil. III”, and Diar. Is an abbreviation for the German word Diarien (diaries). Is possible that the number “715” is Poeppig’s original collection number of the approximately 900 collections Poeppig made in Chile. Other numbers may have been placed on his collections by another person.

There also is confusion regarding the locality of "Río Aconcagua". This river is near Viña del Mar and is listed on the type collection of another of Poeppig's collections that is the type of S. palustre (E. F. Poeppig 73 (Diar. 184), and S. etuberosum likely never grew at the low altitude of Viña del Mar. Truvun Leuvu is another name for Trubunleo (C. Martecorena, pers. comm.). Trubunleo is a name for a river (located at 37°23’S, 71°28’W) and a waterfall (located at 37°22’S, 71°30’W [United States Department of Interior, 1967]). It is likely that E. F. Poeppig Coll. pl. Chil. III 62 (Diar. 715) (780) was collected in the Andes Mountains near Antuco (located at 37°20’S, 71°41’). Antuco is an area where the two species co-occur, as documented in S. etuberosum Spooner and Contreras-M. 4489, 4490, S. palustre Spooner and Contreras-M. 4488; see Fig. 1 of Contreras-M. and Spooner, 1999).

E. F. Poeppig Coll. pl. Chil. III 62 (Diar. 715) (780) are mixed collections of S. palustre and S. etuberosum. The S. palustre part originally was named as Solanum palustre var. glabrescens Walp.

D.F.L. von Schlechtendal worked at B until 1933, then at HAL. Material from his herbarium is at B (mainly destroyed), W, and other herbaria (Stafleu and Cowan, 1985) not here observed. It is likely he had access to both B and W specimens.


Instituto Geográfico Militar, Chile Listado de nombres geográficos, Tomo I (A-M), Tomo II (M-Z).
Instituto Geográfico Militar, Santiago.

Poeppig, E.F. 1834. Reise in Peru and auf dem Amazonenstrome wáhrend der Jahre 1827-1832, vol 1.
Friedrich Fleischer, Leipzig.

Poeppig, E.F. 1836. Reise in Peru and auf dem Amazonenstrome wáhrend der Jahre 1827-1832, vol 2.
Friedrich Fleischer, Leipzig.

Urban, I. 1896. Biographische Skizzen IV, 5, Eduard Poeppig (1798-1868).
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 21(4). Beibl. 53: 1-27.

Juzepczuk, S.W. & S.M. Bukasov 1929. A contribution to the question to the origin of the potato [in Russian, English summary].
Proceedings of the U.S.S.R. Congress of genetics, plant and animal breeding, January 10-16, 1929, Leningrad (Trudy Vsesoyuznogo Szeda po Genetike i Selektsii) 3: 593-611.

Bukasov, S.M. 1939. The origin of potato species.
Physis (Buenos Aires) 18: 41-46.

Lanjouw, J. & F.A. Stafleu 1957. Index Herbariorum Part 11(2) Collectors (E-H).
Reg. Veg. 9: 175-295.

Bukasov, S.M. & Y. Kameraz 1959. Bases of Potato Breeding. [in Russian].
Gosudarstvennoe Izdatel’sto Sel’skokhozyaistrennoi Literatury, Moscow.

Montaldo, A. & C. Sanz 1962. Las especies de papas silvestres y cultivadas de Chile.
Agric. Técn. 22: 66-152.

Correll, D.S. 1962. The potato and its wild relatives.
Contr. Texas Res. Found., Bot. Stud. 4: 1-606.

United States Department of Interior 1967. Gazetteer of Chile, Official Standard Names Approved by the U. S. Board on Geographic Names, ed. 2.
Division of Geography, Department of Interior, U. S. Government, Washington, D. C.

Ramanna, M.S. & J.G.T. Hermsen 1979. Unique meiotic behavior in Fl plants from a cross between a non-tuberous and a tuberous Solanum species in section Petota.
Euphytica 28: 9-15.

Hermsen, J.G.T. & L.K. Taylor 1979. Successful hybridization of non-tuberous Solanum etuberosum Lind. and tuber-bearing S. pinnatisectum Dun.
Euphytica 28: 1-7.

Ramanna, M.S. & J.G.T. Hermsen 1981. Structural hybridity in the series Etuberosa of the genus Solanum and its bearing on crossability.
Euphytica 30: 15-31.

Hermsen, J.G.T., M.S. Ramanna, & Z. Sawor 1981. The effect of chromosome doubling on fertility, meiotic behavior and crossability of Solanum etuberosum x S. pinnatisectum.
Euphytica 30: 33-39.

Stafleu, F.A. & R.S. Cowan 1983. Taxonomic Literature ed. 2. Vol. 4: P-Sak.
Bohn, Scheltema and Holkema, Utrecht.

Stafleu, F.A. & R.S. Cowan 1985. Taxonomic Literature ed. 2. Vol. 5: Sal-Ste.
Bohn, Scheltema and Holkema, Utrecht.

Hawkes, J.G. 1989. Nomenclatural and taxonomic notes on the infrageneric taxa of the tuber-bearing Solanums (Solanaceae).
Taxon 38: 489-492.

Hawkes, J.G. 1990. The potato: evolution, biodiversity and genetic resources.
Oxford: Belhaven Press.

Child, A. 1990. A synopsis of Solanum subgenus Potatoe (G. Don) (D’Arcy) (Tuberarium(Dun.) Bitter (s.l.)).
Feddes Repert. 101: 209-235.

Spooner, D.S., A. Contreras-M., & J.B. Bamberg 1991. Chile, 1989 germplasm collecting expedition and utility of the Chilean species.
Amer. Potato J. 68: 681-690.

Matsubayashi, M. 1991. Phylogenetic relationships in the potato and its related species.
Pp. 93-118 In: T. Tsuchiya and P.K. Gupta (eds.). Chromosome Engineering in Plants: Genetics, Breeding, Evolution, Part B,. Elsevier, Amsterdam.

D’Arcy, W.G. 1991. The Solanaceae since 1976, with a review of its biogeography.
Pp. 75-137 In: J.G. Hawkes, R.N. Lester, M. Nee, and N. Estrada-R. (eds.). Solanaceae III: Taxonomy, Chemistry, Evolution. Richmond, Surrey, UK: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew and Linnean Society of London.

Spooner, D.M., D. Douches, & A. Contreras-M 1992. Allozyme variation within Solanum sect. Petota, ser. Etuberosa (Solanaceae).
Amer. J. Bot. 79: 467-471.

Spooner, D.S., G.J. Anderson, & R.B. Jansen 1993. Chloroplast DNA evidence for the interrelationships of tomatoes, potatoes, and pepinos (Solanaceae).
Amer. J. Bot. 80: 676-688.

Spooner, D.M., J. Tivang, J. Nienhuis, J.T. Miller, D.S. Douches, & A. Contreras-M 1995. Comparison of four molecular markers in measuring relationships among the wild potato relatives Solanum section Etuberosum (subgenus Potatoe).
Theor. Appl. Genet. 92:532-540.

Contreras-M., A. & D.M. Spooner 1999. Revision of Solanum section Etuberosum.
Pp. 227-245 In: M. Nee, D.E. Symon, and J.P. Jessop (eds.). Solanaceae IV: advances in biology and utilization. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, U.K.

Spooner, D.M. & R.J. Hijmans 2001. Potato systematics and germplasm collecting, 1989-2000.
Amer. J. Potato Res. 78:237-268; 395.

Peralta, I.E. & D.M. Spooner 2001. Granule-bound starch synthase (GBSSI) gene phylogeny of wild tomatoes (Solanum L. section Lycopersicon [Mill.] Wettst. subsection Lycopersicon).
Amer. J. Bot. 88(10): 1888-1902.


Chloroplast DNA restriction site, isozyme, nuclear RFLP and RAPD data are found in Spooner et al. (1995). GBSSI (waxy) sequence data are found in Peralta and Spooner (1991).

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