Solanum lythrocarpum is endemic to Queensland. It is known from two small areas near the towns of Monto and Mundubbera. It grows on lateritised plateaux in ironbark-Acacia blakei forest with a dense shrubby understorey including some rainforest species. Associated species include Croton insularis, Phebalium nottii, Bertya opponens and Philotheca ciliata.
Solanum lythrocarpum is a typical member of Solanum subgenus Leptostemonum. It is placed into the S. ferocissimum group (Group 13) by Bean (2004) on morphological grounds; its phylogenetic position has not been investigated using molecular data.
Solanum lythrocarpum is related to S. dissectum, but differs by the entire adult leaves (deeply lobed for S. dissectum); the presence of very short, gland-tipped hairs on the branchlets, leaf lamina and calyx (absent for S. dissectum); the presence of stellate hairs on leaves and calyx (absent for S. dissectum) and the fruiting pedicels 10-19 mm long (18-24 mm long for S. dissectum).
Conservation status: S. lythrocarpum is known from two localities, neither of which is within a conservation reserve. Applying the IUCN guidelines (IUCN, 2001), a category of “Vulnerable” is recommended (VU D1+2). In the Coominglah State Forest, less than 300 plants are known; 30-40 plants occur at the Mundubbera site.
Etymology: From the Greek ‘lythron’ meaning blood, and ‘carpos’ (fruit), in reference to the bright-red colour of the mature fruits.
IUCN Species Survival Commision 2001. IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria: Version 3.1.
Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK: IUCN.
Bean, A.R. 2004. The taxonomy and ecology of Solanum subg. Leptostemonum (Dunal) Bitter (Solanaceae) in Queensland and far north-eastern New South Wales.
Austrobaileya 6 (4): 639-816.