Solanum melongena (Brinjal, Eggplant, Aubergine, Terong in Malay)
Brinjal, often called the ‘King of Vegetables’ originated in India. It is given that name as it holds a permanent place in most of the foods there.
Plant Profile, Culture and Propagation :
- Botanical Name:
Solanum melongena (syn.: Solanum ovigerum, Solanum trongum).
- Common Names: Brinjal, Eggplant, Aubergine, Terong in Malay.
- Family Name: Solanaceae.
- Etymology: The genus name Solanum comes from the Latin word solamen, meaning comfort, solace or soothing, referring to the purported sedative and healing effects obtained from application of the leaves of some genus plants to cuts, wounds, inflammation or skin problems.
The species epithet melongena refers to its melon-shaped fruit.
Native to the Indian subcontinent and Indo-Burmese region.
It is also cultivated elsewhere around the world.
- Plant type: An ornamental and herbaceous fruit-bearing perennial.
- Features: Psophocarpus tetragonolobus is from the genus Psophocarpus that consists of 6 species of flowering plants.
A favourite with hybridisers that have developed many cultivars and varieties.
It is an erect and branching herbaceous plant.
It can grow up to 1.5 m in height.
A perennial plant that is commonly grown as an annual.
It produces petiolate and hairy leaves that are ovate to ovate-oblong in shape.
These are alternately arranged along the often spiny herbaceous stem.
The large, green and coarsely lobed leaves are 10-20 cm long and 5-10 cm wide.
4 cm flowers are white, pink, lavender to purple in colour.
The blossoms are funnel-shaped with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens which form a star-like shape.
They have a wrinkled texture.
The bisexual or male flowers may be solitary or in clusters and located axillary.
The fruit, known as a berry, grows up to 40 cm long and 20 cm wide and may be egg-shaped, elongated or round.
Depending on the cultivar, fruit comes in varying colours of white, yellow, green, pink, red, violet or purple and vary greatly in size.
The smooth and glossy skinned fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture and contains numerous small and soft edible seeds.
The cut surface of the flesh very quickly turns brown when the fruit is cut open.
- Culture (Care): Solanum melongena or Eggplant can be grown easily with least maintenance.
Light: Full sun.
Moisture: Moderate water requirements.
Soil: Humus-enriched, sandy loam and well-drained soils.
Feed once fortnightly with a balanced fertiliser but avoid excess nitrogen to increase fruit production.
Do take note that all green parts of the plant are toxic. Generally free from serious pests and diseases. However, watch out for verticillium wilt, flea beetles, tomato hornworms, Colorado potato beetles and cutworms that can be problems.
For subtropical and temperate regions: Hardiness: USDA Zone 9-12.
Solanum melongena or Aubergine is a delicate and tropical perennial that is often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates.
Eggplants are frost tender and heat-loving plants that benefit from a long growing season with warm soil temp of 21°C for optimum growth. Plant seeds in sunny warm location 8-10 weeks before transplanting into garden after all danger of frost is past and night temperatures are consistently at or above 18°C. Eggplant roots are subject to cold damage and plants seldom recover from cold snaps. Do not permit young plants to suffer from low temperature or drought. Depending on the size of fruit you wish to harvest, pinch out terminal growth and blossoms to allow up to 6 fruits to mature or allow all fruits to set and pick then when small. Harvest fruits early as maturity increases bitterness.
- Propagation: Easily propagated from seeds that germinate in about 14 days.
- Usage: Grow Solanum melongena or Eggplant in your home garden to ensure pesticide-free edible fruits or veggie for your family all year long.
Its fruits are typically consumed as a cooked vegetable. However, there is a light green and elongated version which is eaten raw in Indonesia. Eggplants can be prepared in many ways, namely in stews, roasted, grilled, sauteed, stir-fried, breaded and fried, baked, pickled, added to soups and curries, as well as stuffed with fish meat. They are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. They are ideal as centrepieces in large containers or grown in the ground. In some regions, it’s used as a traditional medicine. It is known to lower blood cholesterol levels, helps regulate high blood pressure and as an antidote to poisonous mushrooms. It is bruised with vinegar and used as a poultice for cracked nipples, abscesses and haemorrhoids.
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