Solanum melongena L.
* Melongena ovata Mill., Gard. Dict. ed. vol. 8, no. 1. 1768.
1. ↑ Mansfeld's World Database of Agriculture and Horticultural Crops - Solanum melongena
* GRIN Taxonomy for Plants ' Solanum melongena
The eggplant, aubergine, melongene or brinjal (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to Nepal, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. (Semi-)wild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, less than 3 cm in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain (an insignificant amount of) nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.
The name eggplant, used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada refers to the fact that the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs. The name aubergine, which is used in British English, is an adoption from the French word (derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-baðinjān from Persian bâdenjân, from Sanskrit vātiga-gama). In Indian, South African and Malaysian English, the fruit is known as a brinjal, which derives directly from the Portuguese "beringela". Aubergine and brinjal, with their distinctive br-jn or brn-jl aspects, derive from Persian and Sanskrit. A less common British English word is melongene which is also from French (derived from Italian "melanzana" from Greek "melanzana" from Arabic al-baðinjān. In the Caribbean Trinidad, it also goes by "meloongen" from melongene.
Because of the plant's relationship with the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely dangerous.
The most widely cultivated varieties (cultivars) in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm wide (4 1/2 to 9 in) and 6–9 cm broad (2 to 4 in) in a dark purple skin.
A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram (2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and were sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.
Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned cultivars include Harris Special Hibush, Burpee Hybrid, Black Magic, Classic, Dusky, and Black Beauty. Slim cultivars in purple-black skin include Little Fingers, Ichiban, Pingtung Long, and Tycoon; in green skin Louisiana Long Green and Thai (Long) Green; in white skin Dourga. Traditional, white-skinned, egg-shaped cultivars include Casper and Easter Egg. Bicolored cultivars with color gradient include Rosa Bianca and Violetta di Firenze. Bicolored cultivars in striping include Listada de Gandia and Udumalapet. In some parts of India, miniature varieties (most commonly called Vengan) are popular. A particular variety of green brinjal known as Matti Gulla is grown in Matti village of Udupi district in Karnataka state in India.
As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, chutney, curries, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the 'King of Vegetables'. In one dish, Brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala and then cooked in oil.
In Pakistan it is called Bengun while in Bangladesh, it is called Begun (বেগুন). It, along with the fish Hilsa, is used to cook a famous Bengali wedding dish . Slices of eggplant are marinated with salt and chilli powder, covered with a batter of bashone and deep-fried and eaten as a snack. This is called Beguni (বেগুনি) or Bataun or Bhata .
In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be sown directly into the garden. Eggplant grown in temperate climates fares better when transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is passed. Seeds are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.
Many pests and diseases which afflict other solanaceous vegetables, such as tomato, pepper (capsicum), and potato, are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it should not be planted in areas previously occupied by its close relatives. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants. Common North American pests include the potato beetle, flea beetle, aphids, and spider mites. Many of these can be controlled using Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt), a bacterium that attacks the soft-bodied larvae. (Adults can be removed by hand, though flea beetles can be especially difficult to control.) Good sanitation and crop-rotation practices are extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the most serious of which is Verticillium.
Spacing should be 45 cm (18 in.) to 60 cm (24 in.) between plants, depending on cultivar, and 60 cm to 90 cm (24 to 36 in.) between rows, depending on the type of cultivation equipment being used. Mulching will help conserve moisture and prevent weeds and fungal diseases. The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination will improve the set of the first blossoms. Fruits are typically cut from the vine just above the calyx owing to the semi-woody stems. Flowers are complete, containing both female and male structures, and may be self-pollinated or cross-pollinated.
It helps to block the formation of free radicals and is also a source of folic acid and potassium.
Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant, with a concentration of 100 ng/g (or 0.01 mg/100g). However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant or any other food is negligible compared to passive smoking. On average, 20 lbs (9 kg) of eggplant contains about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.
Case reports of itchy skin and/or mouth after handling and/or eating eggplant have been reported anecdotally and published in medical journals (see also oral allergy syndrome). A recent (2008) study of a sample of 741 people in India (where eggplant is commonly consumed) found that nearly 10% reported some allergic symptoms after consuming eggplant, while 1.4% showed symptoms in less than 2 hours. Contact dermatitis from eggplant leaves and allergy to eggplant flower pollen have also been reported. Individuals who are atopic (genetically predisposed to hypersensitivity, such as hayfever) are more likely to have a reaction to eggplant, which may be due to the fact that eggplant is high in histamines. A few proteins and at least one secondary metabolite have been identified as potential allergens. Cooking eggplant thoroughly seems to preclude reactions in some individuals, but at least one of the allergenic proteins survives the cooking process.
* Solanum melongena var. esculentum common eggplant (Ukrainian Beauty)
Bt brinjal is a transgenic eggplant which has the gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis inserted into it. This variety was designed to give the plant resistance against lepidopteran insects like the brinjal fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera).
On 9th February 2010 the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, imposed a moratorium on the cultivation of Bt brinjal. His decision was made after protest from several groups responding to regulatory approval of the cultivation of Bt brinjal in October, 2009. Ramesh stated that the moratorium will last "for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence".
The eggplant is quite often featured in the older scientific literature under the junior synonyms S. ovigerum and S. trongum. A list of other now-invalid names have been uniquely applied to it:
* Melongena ovata Mill.
A number of subspecies and varieties have been named, mainly by Dikii, Dunal, and (invalidly) by Sweet. Names for various eggplant types, such as agreste, album, divaricatum, esculentum, giganteum, globosi, inerme, insanum, leucoum, luteum, multifidum, oblongo-cylindricum, ovigera, racemiflorum, racemosum, ruber, rumphii, sinuatorepandum, stenoleucum, subrepandum, tongdongense, variegatum, violaceum and viride, are not considered to refer to anything more than cultivar groups at best. On the other hand, Solanum incanum and Cockroach Berry (S. capsicoides), other eggplant-like nightshades described by Linnaeus and Allioni respectively, were occasionally considered eggplant varieties. But this is not correct.
The eggplant has a long history of taxonomic confusion with the Scarlet and Ethiopian eggplants, known as gilo and nakati and described by Linnaeus as S. aethiopicum. The eggplant was sometimes considered a variety violaceum of that species. S. violaceum of de Candolle applies to Linnaeus' S. aethiopicum. There is an actual S. violaceum, an unrelated plant described by Ortega, which used to include Dunal's S. amblymerum and was often confused with the same author's S. brownii.
Like the potato and Solanum lichtensteinii—but unlike the tomato which back then was generally put in a different genus—the eggplant was also described as S. esculentum, in this case once more in the course of Dunal's work. He also recognized varieties aculeatum, inerme and subinerme at that time. Similarly, H.C.F. Schuhmacher & Peter Thonning named the eggplant as S. edule, which is also a junior synonym of Sticky Nightshade (S sisymbriifolium). Scopoli's S. zeylanicum refers to the eggplant, that of Blanco to S. lasiocarpum.
1. ^ Tsao and Lo in "Vegetables: Types and Biology". Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering by Yiu H. Hui (2006). CRC Press. ISBN 1574445510.
* Solanaceae Source : Solanum melongena. Retrieved 2008-SEP-25.
Source: Wikispecies, Wikipedia: All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License