Solanum laciniatum, or Kangaroo Apple, is a perennial shrub native to Australia and Tasmania. The plant produces two distinct types of foliage. Juvenile foliage leaves are dark green and deeply lobed, up to 10 inches (27 cm) long by 4 inches (12 cm) wide. Adult leaf forms, in contrast, are lanceolate to 6 inches (17 cm) long by 2 inches (5 cm) wide. Stems start out being dark green and turn black as they age, eventually forming a rough brown bark. Plants will reach up to about 8 feet (2.5 m) in height with an equal spread. They are hardy in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, the plants bloom sporadically throughout the spring and summer. The 1.25 to 2 inch (3-5 cm) bluish-purple flower with bright yellow anthers are very showy against the dark green foliage and black stems. The fruit are egg shaped berries that are a bright orange-yellow to about 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) long.
Culture: Solanum laciniatum grow well in a wide range of light conditions and soil types. In the greenhouse, we grow them under full sun, with a soil mix consisting of 1 part peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part sand or perlite. The plants are well watered and allowed to dry slightly before watering again. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer diluted to ½ the strength recommended on the label. They are very fast growers and should be transplanted into fairly large containers when they are still in the seedling stage. One year old plants often become 4 feet in height with an equal spread in 2 gallon containers. During the winter months, the plants are kept at 48°F (9°C) and water is cut back to only enough to keep them from losing their foliage.
Propagation: Solanum laciniatum is propagated from cuttings or from seed. Fresh seed will germinate in 20-30 days at 70°F (21°C).
Solanum laciniatum was featured as Plant of the Week March 17-23, 2006.
Guide to Past Plants-of-the-Week:
Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.