These pretty plants are flowering and fruiting around the district now. They are familiar in our local national parks, where they grow on red soil, and on hillside black soil. It is seen at left in the Bunya Mountains...
...and at right in Goomburra National Park.
For several months in spring and early summer, it produces generous quantities of these attractive flowers.
Gardeners who grow potatoes, tomatoes, eggplants or chillies will be able to see, from the flowers, that this is a related plant.
Like those familiar food plants, the leaves and unripe fruits of kangaroo apple are poisonous. It is farmed in several countries of the world, to produce a drug, used in the manufacture of oral contraceptives, which is extracted from the young leaves and green fruits.
Solanum aviculare is native in New Zealand as well, and Maoris (who call it poroporo) cultivate it for the edible fruit. It should only be eaten when it is very ripe.
Aborigines traditionally burned off the outer skins, before they ate them.
This plant has potential as a garden ornamental. It is a fast-growing shrub, with large plants reaching 3m high, and is unlikely to live for much longer than five years. The leaves of young plants have large lobes on them, which disappear as the plants mature. It is useful as an ornamental filler in gardens, positioned between slower-growing, long-lived plants. It is also used as a rootstock for grafting eggplant.
New plants are easily grown from seed or cuttings
Kangaroo apple is moderately drought and frost hardy. It needs a sheltered site, and grows in full or part sun.