Solanum pyracanthos-Porcupine Tomato, Devil’s Thorn

Solanum pyracanthos (Porcupine Tomato) on 4-15-12, #86-57.

Porcupine Tomato, Devil’s Thorn

Solanum pyracanthos

so-LAN-num  py-ra-KAN-thum

Solanum pyracanthos Lam. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the Porcupine Tomato. It was named and described by Jean Baptiste Antoine Pierre de Monnet de Lamarck in Tableau Encyclopédique et Methodique in 1794.

Although Plants of the World Online by Kew currently only lists 11 accepted species in the Solanum genus, they are fairly new and still uploading data. According to version 1.1 (2013) of The Plant List, at that time there were 1,199 accepted species plus another 31 accepted infraspecific names. There were a total of 1,209 synonyms and 1,504 unresolved names. Solanum pyracanthos is NOT listed on Plants of the World Online. The genus isn’t even listed on the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families (WCSP), also by Kew. I am sure in time they will.

There are many listings for this plant online with the scientific name spelled several ways. It is correctly Solanum pyracanthos according to the International Plant Names Index (IPNI).


Leaf of the Solanum pyracanthos (Porcupine Tomato) on 4-15-12, #86-58.

I had bought several plants from Ron Hort, a seller on Ebay, while living at the mansion in Mississippi. While browsing through his other items in 2012, I found this Porcupine Tomato. I had never seen anything like it, so I had to have one. 


Solanum pyracanthos (Porcupine Tomato) on 8-4-12, #113-18.


Family: Solanaceae
Origin: Madagascar and islands of the western Indian Ocean
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-11 (20 to 40° F)
Size: 12 to 60” tall plus*
Light: Sun to part shade
Soil: Well-draining
Water: Average

Flowers on the Solanum pyracanthos (Porcupine Tomato) on 10-21-12, #123-12.

The Porcupine Tomato is easy to grow in well-drained soil in sun to part shade. Information says they are not cold hardy below freezing but may regrow if warms up for a while. 

The stems and leaves have reddish orange thorns so this is one of those “look-don’t-touch” plants. The lavender flowers have a white stripe on the back of each petal.

The leaves, flowers and fruit are poisonous. They contain highly toxic tropane alkaloids like many members of the Solanum genera.


Solanum pyracanthos (Porcupine Tomato) leaf on 10-21-12, #123-13.

My plant grew between 3-4’ tall and about 30” wide. Information online says they can grow up to 5’ tall in optimum conditions.

They do well in containers provided it holds at least 5 gallon of soil. The soil should also be high in organic matter.

They like their soil to be somewhat damp, so they need watered deeply and thoroughly. They should be watered when the top couple of inches are dry.

This was definitely a very interesting plant and one I hope to grow again. There are plenty of sources online

I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.


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