Submitted to: American Journal of Botany
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 6/15/2002
Publication Date: 7/2/2002
Citation: Spooner, D.M. 2002. Ethnobotany of the solanaceae. 2002 Botanical Society of American Abstracts p. 42. Interpretive Summary:
Technical Abstract: The Solanaceae include some 80 to 90 genera and approximately 2300 to 2600 species. Its species are of nearly cosmopolitan distribution, found throughout both tropical and temperate regions, but with a concentration of diversity in Australia and Latin America. By any measure it is one of the most important and fascinating plant families, containing foods such as potatoes, tomatoes, chilies, eggplants, and paprika; ornamentals such as Petunia, Brugmansia and Salphiglossis; drugs such as nicotine and belladonna; and deadly poisons or hallucinogens found in deadly nightshade, black henbane, jimson weed, and mandrake. It has been the subject of intensive systematic investigations, using molecules, chemicals, and morphology, at all levels from outgroup relationships to redefining species boundaries. Of particular interest are the evolution and relationships of several important food plants: the potato, tomato, eggplant, and other fruit-producing species in the genus Solanum. The origin and wild relatives of these plants have been obscure or controversial, but recent morphological, molecular, and fieldwork have shed light on their evolution. This symposium concentrates on the taxonomy and food value of pepinos, potatoes, and tree tomatoes (all in Solanum), and a review of the lesser-known foods in the family, incorporating recent findings and suggesting areas for future research.