Characteristics and economic importance of family Solanaceae

  • This is a family of wide distribution.
  • Plants are terrestrial and are adapted to grow in temperate and tropical places, growing wild in shady places.
  • They are annual herbs, shrubs and rarely trees.

Roots: They have tap root system, and the roots are branched.


  • Stem is erect and weak, may be aerial or underground.
  • It is herbaceous, may be profusely branched, hairy or prickly.
  • It is solid and cylindrical with tuberous in the case of potato.


  • They may be simple or pinnately compound (as in tomato).
  • They are alternate or opposite, exstipulate, hairy, petiolate, dentate, ovate, unicostate and reticular venation.

Inflorescence: Cymose or solitary axillary    


  • They are complete, small, usually white in color, pentamerous, hypogynous and bisexual.
  • They are pedicellate, ebracteate, actinomorphic.


  • 5 sepals, green in color, gamosepalous, campanulate or tubular.
  • Valvate or imbricate aestivation, persistent.


  • 5 petals,of various shape and color, gamopetalous, rotate, lobes oblong or tubular
  • valvate or imbricate aestivation


  • Stamens 5, generally yellow in color, polyandrous, epipetalous anthers, massive
  • Filaments are short, anther oblong, basifixed and bicelled
  • Dehiscence of anthers is by means of apical pores as in Solanum species or by longitudinal slits.
  • Anthers form a cone around the style.


  • Bicarpellary, syncarpous, ovary is superior and obliquely placed.
  • Ovary is bilocular with swollen placenta, placentation is axile.
  • Style is thick and short, stigma is sticky, bifid or bilobed and capitate.

Fruit: Berry with persistent calyx or spinous capsule

Floral diagram with floral formula (Solanum nigrum or black nightshade):

Some important plants of the family:

  • Solanum tuberosum (potato)
  • Solanum melongena (brinjal)
  • Capsicum annum (green pepper)
  • Lycoperscum esculentum (tomato)
  • Nicotiana tobaccum (tobacco)
  • Petunia hybrida (petunia)
  • Datura metel (devil’s trumpet)
  • Datura stramonium (jimsonweed)
  • Withania somnifera (ashwagandha or rennet)

Economic importance:

  • Solanum tuberosum, melongena, Capsicum annum, Lycopersicum esculentum etc. are used as vegetables.
  • Nicotiana tobaccum leaves and stem are used for preparing cigarettes and tobacco products.
  • Atropa belladonna’s dried leaves, stems and roots yield ‘belladona’ to relieve pain, cough and excessive perspiration. Atropine is a drug obtained from the dried leaves of some plants to dilate the pupil of the eye.
  • Dried leaves and roots of Datura metel and stramonium are used for the treatment of asthma.
  • Withania somnifera can coagulate milk for making cheese.
  • Petunia hybrida, Cestrum nocturnum, Solanum villosum have ornamental value.

Characteristics and economic importance of family Solanaceae