Solanum laciniatum (Solanaceae): The Dangerous Angel

Solanum laciniatum (Solanaceae): The Dangerous Angel

I bet you had heard about both – a kangaroo and an apple. But what about a Kangaroo apple? This is a common name for a native Australian plant which is found also in Tasmania: Solanum laciniatum (Solanaceae). I took a photograph of this “dangerous angel” in front of our house on Bruny Island. I say dangerous because all green parts of the plant are actually toxic when ingested. The ripe fruit, however, can be eaten and eaten it has been by the Aboriginal Australians! When ripe, the fruit has dark orange color. It can be eaten as is or turned into a jam or a chutney.

The major source of toxicity of kangaroo apple are alkaloids, for example solasodine. However, when it comes to topical (on skin) application, solasodine can be potentially very good for us. The compound and its derivatives have been examined with success for its activity against cancer cells and for the treatment of skin cancer [1]. Solasodine has been found also in other native Australian Solanum spp. (e.g. Solanum aviculare).

[1] Cham, B., E. et al. Cancer Letters, Volume 59, Issue 3, Pages 183–192

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