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Beware the thorns of devils and porcupines at Wisley

Posted by Sara Draycott on 06 Aug 2012 at 04:31 PM

In the Herb Garden at Wisley, Sabatino (pictured below) has introduced some extraordinary plants that he bought at plant fair here at Wisley last September. 


Look carefully, but don’t get too close. These unusual relatives of the tomato have incredible thorns.  Purple devil, Solanum atropurpureum, (pictured below) is an upright perennial with remarkable purple spines. Its yellow flowers are followed by toxic green fruits that ripen to bright orange. Very ornamental, but definitely not for eating.


Solanum pyracanthum or porcupine tomato from Madagascar (pictured below) is holding its deeply toothed leaves horizontally in a way that shows off the outstanding fluorescent spines perfectly, especially if they’re set against a dark background.


We also have some Datura planted with them, exotic looking plants with angel’s trumpets flowers. This genus has been used for centuries in some cultures as a poison and hallucinogen.


The Solanaceae is the family of tomato, potato, aubergine, peppers, and more, many of which evolved in the Andean/Amazonian regions of South America. 


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