Porcupine Tomato, Devil’s Thorn
Synonyms of Solanum pyracanthos Lam. (4) (Updated on 2-21-21): Solanum haematocarpum C.Huber, Solanum haematocarpum Anon., Solanum pyracantha Sm., Solanum runcinatum J.C.Wendl.
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.
The genus, Solanum L., was named and described as such by Carl von Linnaeus in the first volume of the first edition of Species Plantarum in 1753.
Plants of the World Online lists 1,231 species in the Solanum genus (as of 2-23-21 when I last updated this page). It is a member of the plant family Solanaceae with 100 genera. Those numbers could change as updates are made (and likely will).
THERE ARE A FEW LINKS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE FOR FURTHER READING.
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.
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.
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.
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 to be 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.