Solanum aviculare is related to tomatoes and eggplant, it is an upright shrub that typically to 6-8 ft. The Kangaroo Apple plant has unusual large, green, leaves that are deeply-lobed with up to 5 spear-like fingers. In the spring, the plant has large ruffled purple flowers that measure almost 2 inches wide and are reminiscent of eggplant flowers. Once the flowers fall away, small, shiny, egg-shaped fruits develop. Kangaroo Apple fruits begin bright green and ripen to a pale orange to red.
The fruit are considered “edible” by most folks, but MUST only be eaten when fully ripe and soft, having turned orange to red in color. Raw or cooked, they have been added to baked goods, used to make jams or jellies or dried.
Solanum aviculare was identified in 1786 by the German explorer Georg Forster and is generally grown by home gardeners or specialty plant enthusiasts. The main commercial interest is due to the large amounts of steroids produced in the plant matter and especially the new growth. Traditionally these steroidal components were used by Australian Aboriginals as a contraceptive, and that is where the majority of research lies today.
Other Names: gunyang, koonyang, mayakitch, meakitch, mookitch, Bush Tucker Plant, poroporo, kangaroo apple, pam plum, New Zealand nightshade, Solanum brisbanense, medicinal plant, unusual fruit, often misidentified as Solanum laciniatum