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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of plants of the family Solanaceae. The plants are perennial and, less frequently, annual herbs, sub-shrubs, or shrubs with erect, climbing, or creeping stems. Some species are trees. The alternate or paired leaves are entire, lobed, or pinnate. The bisexual and usually regular pentamerous flowers are solitary or in inflorescences. The fruit is a two-celled berry with numerous seeds.

There are approximately 1,700 species of Solanum, distributed in tropical, subtropical, and temperate regions. Most are found mainly in South America. The genus includes such important cultivated plants as the potato, the eggplant, and, according to some classifications, the tomato. The USSR has about 20 wild species. These include the bittersweet (S. dulcamara,) a climbing subshrub usually having lilac flowers and bright red berries. The plant is found throughout the European USSR and in the southern part of Western Siberia. It grows in moist thickets, forests, and ravines, as well as along shores. S. nigrum, an annual with white flowers and black or, occasionally, green berries, grows wild in gardens and near dwellings. Both the bittersweet and S. nigrum contain the poisonous alkaloid solanine, which is toxic to all agricultural animals. S. laciniatum, which is native to Australia, contains glycoalkaloids (solasonine) that are used to obtain the steroid hormones progesterone and cortisone used in medicine. It is cultuvated in Moldavia, Krasnodar Krai, the Crimea, and Kazakhstan as an annual plant. Many species, such as S. atropurpureum and S. marginatum, are grown as ornamental garden plants; others, including S. capsicastrum, are raised as greenhouse ornamentals.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
For a small plot on a three-year rotation, plant legumes (pea family) in the first year, tomatoes and other nightshade plants the next year, and gourds in the third year.
Arthritis sufferers need to avoid nightshade plants, dairy products, eggs and citrus to name a few.
Secondly, honey made from tansy ragwort, nightshade plants, the heath family, mountain laurel, and the Rhododendron and Azalea families can be toxic.
For a time, the tomato was grown for ornamental purposes only, because as a relative of nightshade plants, tomatoes were deemed poisonous.