Poison Gooseberry

Withania somnifera

Withania somnifera, Kenya, photo © by Michael Plagens

Observed among roadside vegetation east of Lake Elementeita, Nakuru County, Kenya, Africa. Dec 2015.

fruit of Withania somnifera photo © Michael Plagens

LEAVES: The alternate, dark green leaves have entire margins and silvery pubescence on the undersides.

SUBSHRUB: Multi-stemmed plant with lower portions woody and the upper herbaceous reaching 1.5 m in height and width.

FLOWERS: Very small green-white flowers are clustered in the leaf axils. The sepals and supporting peduncles are silvery pubescent.

RANGE: Widely distributed in Africa, but might be introduced from southern Asia. The insect herbivore evidence suggests it is native in this part of Kenya. Toxic to grazing mammals and mostly avoided.

FRUIT: A spherical berry with many seeds is orange-red when ripe and partly concealed by the papery calyx.

UNARMED, but toxic to mammals.

Solanaceae -- Nightshade Family

More Information:

Kenya Natural History

Copyright Michael J. Plagens, Created on 23 February 2016