Adam Marchant, Andrew Perkins, Gillian Towler and George Orel
Royal Botanic Gardens, Sydney
Australian Plants (2004) 22 (179): 276-277
Solanum brownii (Violet Niteshade) and its relatives are native to eastern NSW, extending into the south-east corner of Queensland, and the eastern tip of Victoria. They are perennial shrubs, and have very attractive and unusual blue or purple flowers up to four centimetres diameter. Thay have been used to a limited extent as a garden ornamental (Wrigley and Fagg 1996).
Their exploitation by the nursey industry is limited by their having prickles, which makes them less desirable for most customers, and awkward to handle for nursery workers.
However, compared with other native Solanums also with attractive flowers, S. brownii (broad sense – see below) has generally fewer spines, and there is a wide range of variation in prickliness in the wild. There is also variation in flower colour and size.