Tuesday, 23 January 2007

Traffic light fruit

Despite toppling over some months ago, my kangaroo apple (Solanum laciniatum) is flowering and producing fruit as if there were no tomorrow. There is, of course—but the plant is throwing caution to the wind.

Solanum laciniatum and the closely-related S. aviculare are difficult to tell apart. They have similar leaves, flowers and fruit. It's much easier if you see the two together but, even though they have overlapping ranges, they tend to be segregated by habitat. Solanum laciniatum prefers drier areas, such as open eucalpypt woodland. Solanum aviculare favours damper habitats.

One of the characters used to distinguish between the two is the colour of ripe fruit. In both species, the fruits starts off green, then becomes pale yellow. When it turns orange (and becomes squashy) it is ripe.

But the shade is important—light orange in S. laciniatum, bright orange to scarlet in S. aviculare. That's a pale orange fruit. No, really.

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