Kenya Natural History Guide >>> Plants >>> Solanaceae >>> Solanum mauritianum

Tobacco Weed
Ear-leaved Nightshade

Solanum mauritianum

Solanum mauritianum from Kakamega Forest, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed as an abundant roadside weed in Kakamega Forest Preserve, Kenya, Africa. 12 October 2010.

A plant bug, Miridae, must navigate intricate plant trichomes, Kenya. Photo © by Michael Plagens

A mirid plant bug on the lower leaf surface where dense matting of branched hairs cover the surface. Kitale, Kenya, Africa. April 2013.

close-up of flowers, Solanum mauritianum, photo © Michael Plagens Nightshades as a group are easily recognized by the morphology of the flowers. Five petals arrayed in a five-pointed star; five large, erect, stamens; fruit a spherical berry that often turns yellow on ripening. This invasive species was found growing at the side of a road that passes into Kakamega Forest Resert. Leaves are large and woolly. Sometimes reaches small tree size.

Roadways seem a necessary part of eco-tourist destinations like Kakamega Forest. But the roads represent a significant hazard to the integrity of the habitat. Animals are killed by vehicles and exotic, invasive species use them as avenues that could well push out native plants within the preserve leaving the park as another weed patch.

Solanaceae -- Nightshade Family

developing fruit of Solanum mauritianum, photo © Michael Plagens

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I have observed many times the ripe fruits being eated by birds, especially Common Bulbul and Speckled Mousebirds. The seeds survive passage through the birds' digestion and are thus widely dispersed.

Common Bulbul Speckled Mousebird

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 18 May 2011,
updated 6 Sept. 2013