Solanum chrysotrichum (SOLANACEAE) Giant Devil’s Fig

Weeds to Whack

An erect perennial shrub native to tropical Central America to 4 m found most commonly along creek banks but also in disturbed sites. This fast-growing woody weed can inflict nasty scratches with its sharp prickles. It comes up from seed on disturbed gound. It flowers in early spring. The leaves are large and strongly lobed. Petioles can be up to 12 cm. Suspected of poisoning stock but no definite evidence of toxicity. The ripe fruits have apparently been used as an ingredient in dishes for human consumption in Indonesia.

Photo: Robert Whyte

New Growth

Stems and leaves have a covering of soft hairs. The hairs are reddish on new growth. Long (to 6 mm) prickles occur on the stems, petioles and leaf veins.
Photo: Mark Crocker

Flower and New Leaves

Flowers (from autumn through to spring) are star-shaped, white and hairy on the outer surfaces. They appear in branched inflorescenses with up to 50 flowers per inflorescence. Fruits are globular, green then yellowish when mature.
Photo: Mark Crocker