Solanum aviculare var. aviculare


Solanum: Derivation uncertain - possibly from the Latin word sol, meaning "sun," referring to its status as a plant of the sun. Another possibility is that the root was solare, meaning "to soothe," or solamen, meaning "a comfort," which would refer to the soothing effects of the plant upon ingestion.
aviculare: small bird

Common Name(s)


Current Conservation Status

2018 - Threatened - Nationally Vulnerable

Conservation status of New Zealand indigenous vascular plants, 2012
The conservation status of all known New Zealand vascular plant taxa at the rank of species and below were reassessed in 2012 using the New Zealand Threat Classification System (NZTCS). This report includes a statistical summary and brief notes on changes since 2009 and replaces all previous NZTCS lists for vascular plants. Authors: Peter J. de Lange, Jeremy R. Rolfe, Paul D. Champion, Shannel P. Courtney, Peter B. Heenan, John W. Barkla, Ewen K. Cameron, David A. Norton and Rodney A. Hitchmough. File size: 792KB

Previous Conservation Status

2012 - At Risk - Declining
2009 - At Risk - Declining
2004 - Not Threatened


2012 - DP, Sp, TO
2009 - DP, Sp, TO


Solanum aviculare G.Forst. var. aviculare



Brief Description

Fleshy shrub to 3m tall bearing dark green thin narrow leaves that have 1-3 large sharp lobes and large white or pink flowers that have a projecting yellow centre. Leaves 4-40cm long by 1-1.5cm wide. Flowers to 40cm wide. Fruit yellow or orange, 15-25mm long. POISONOUS.

Flora Category

Vascular - Native

NVS Species Code


The National Vegetation Survey (NVS) Databank is a physical archive and electronic databank containing records of over 94,000 vegetation survey plots - including data from over 19,000 permanent plots. NVS maintains a standard set of species code abbreviations that correspond to standard scientific plant names from the Ngä Tipu o Aotearoa - New Zealand Plants database.

Structural Class

Dicotyledonous Trees & Shrubs


Solanum aviculare var. albiflorum Cheeseman, Solanum cheesemanii Herasim., Solanum aviculare f. aviculare nom. nud.


Indigenous. Kermadec, North, South and Chatham Islands. In the South Island south to about Banks Peninsula and Westland. Also present on Norfolk (Extinct), Lord Howe (Extinct) and eastern Australia and New Guinea. Naturalised in at least China and Russia, probably elsewhere.


Coastal to lowland (0-400 m a.s.l.). Usually in open shrubland, in and around sea bird nesting grounds, seal haul outs, or along forest margins. Sometimes an urban weed.


Small, softly woody shrub up to 3 x 2 m. Branches sparse to many, suberect to spreading, initially dark green, purple-green to reddish-brown, maturing with fine grey, chartaceous bark. Leaves alternate with decurrent, fleshy petioles up to 30 mm long; lamina fleshy-membranous to almost coriaceous, 40-400 x 10-15(-20) mm, dark green, purple-green or rarely yellow-green, narrowly lanceolate to elliptic, entire, or deeply 1-3(-4)- lobed to pinnatifid; lobes/pinnae broadly lanceolate. Flowers axillary in 1-3 few to many-flowered cymes. Calyx lobes short, broad, spreading. Corolla broadly campanulate to rotate, up to 40 mm diameter; tube up to 10 mm long, funnelform, widely flaring at mouth, lobes 10-15 mm, lanceolate; white, lavender, or dark blue , in all cases usually fading to white after anthesis. Filaments up to 5 mm long. Anthers 3-6 mm long, oblong, spreading, yellow, opening by apical slits. Berry 15-25 mm long, broadly ovoid to ellipsoid, maturing yellow or orange, fleshy, pendent; stone cells sparse, inconspicuous. Seeds 1.3-2 mm long, dull to semi-glossy, orange-brown, purple-brown or dark purple brown, obovate to cricular or transversely elliptic, often asymmetric, compressed.

Similar Taxa

Often confused with the much more widespread and common S. laciniatum Aiton which has much wider (up to 50 mm diameter) rotate flowers with broader lobes, with distinctly frilled (ruffled), emarginate lobe apices, large seeds (2-3 mm cf. 1-2 mm) and a different chromosome number (2n = 92 cf 2n = 46). S. aviculare var. aviculare differs from var. latifolium G.T.S.Baylis by its consistently narrower leaves and taller growth habit. Sterile material of either Solanum is impossible to determine to species level


Throughout the year

Flower Colours

Blue,Violet / Purple


Throughout the year

Propagation Technique

Easily grown from fresh seed and semi-hardwood cuttings. Tolerant of heavy shade and full sun, and dry or wet soils but not frost. However, as with all poroporo the green fruits are extremely toxic. The white flowered form (known as var. albiflorum in some flora treatments) is particularly attractive and worth growing.


It has been observed that var. aviculare is becoming less common in the northern North Island though why is not clear. A full nationwide conservation assessment is needed to clarify its exact status.

Chromosome No.

2n = 46

Endemic Taxon


Endemic Genus


Endemic Family


Cultural Use/Importance

The fruits of this species and S. laciniatum Aiton yield important steroid precursors, so both are widely and commercially grown, especially in eastern Europe, Russia and China.

Poisonous plant

As with Solanum laciniatum, the yellow or green berries are poisonous but when ripe (orange) they lose much of their toxicity. The symptoms are often delayed up to 6-12 hours and may include a fever, sweating, nausea and abdominal pain. Click on this link for more information about Poisonous native plants.

Fact Sheet Citation

Please cite as:  de Lange, P.J. (Year at time of Access): Solanum aviculare var. aviculareFact Sheet (content continuously updated). New Zealand Plant Conservation Network. http://www.nzpcn.org.nz/flora_details.aspx?ID=2263 (Date website was queried)


Fact Sheet prepared for the NZPCN by P.J. de Lange 12 May 2006. Description by P.J. de Lange with some elements based on Allan (1961) and Webb et al. (1988).

References and further reading

Allan, H.H. 1961: Flora of New Zealand. Vol. I. Government Printer, Wellington.

Webb CJ, Sykes WR, Garnock-Jones PJ 1988. Flora of New Zealand. Vol. IV. Botany Division, DSIR, Christchurch.

This page last updated on 22 Sep 2017