Solanum aviculare (SOLANACEAE) Kangaroo Apple, Poroporo

Plants to Plant

Common in moist regions of eastern and southern Australia, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand in margins of subtropical rainforest and as a regrowth plant in cleared scrubby areas. Soft-wooded shrub growing to 4 m with simple, alternate, margins entire or deeply lobed leaves. Mauve flowers on slender stalks several months during the year followed by berries, yellow-orange to red, ovoid up to 2 cm long. Numerous flat seeds. Can be propagated from either seeds or cuttings. A fast-growing pioneer species – lasting about 18 months. Berries must be absolutely ripe to be edible. Pulp of the fruit is sickly-sweet but with a bitter aftertaste – not recommended. Used as steroid precursors for the synthesis of contraceptives and corticosteroids.

Photo: Robert Whyte