THE PIG FACE FRUIT - Solanum mammosum

If you thought you had seen everything that the botanical world had to you offer then the Pig Face fruit could be somewhat of a surprise. Native to South America its common name is rather self-explanatory, but it also goes by a number of others such as nipplefruit, titty fruit, cow's udder. In China it is known as the five fingered eggplant, and in Japan it is known as Fox Face.

As a member of the Solonaceae family it is related to both the tomato and the potato, but be warned. As attractive as the fleshy fruit may be, it is in fact poisonous.

The Pig Face has large, ornamental  velvety leaves with purple veins and furry hair. On the surface of each leaf and lesser so on the underside, a number of prominent spikes extend from these veins. The branches and stems are also dotted with firm thorns. It is a bushy shrub and can grow up to 3-6 ft in height. The pink-purple flowers develop during spring and closely match its potato heritage. They are followed by the waxy, yellow coloured fruit which take several months to fully ripen. When opened the fruit is filled with small seeds which are purple-red in colour.

The plant is mostly grown for its ornamental looks, however it has been used in traditional medicine. In India the juice of the fruit is suitable for making a rudimentary detergent and is surprisingly suitable for washing clothes.

It is probably best known for its use in building Chinese New Year trees and in Taiwan and Hong Kong where its decorative foliage is used in religious and festival floral arrangements.

Solanum mammosum can be propagated from seed and cuttings but the seeds are difficult to germinate outside of its natural habitat. It is believed that the seeds may have physiological dormancy, which can be overcome by mimicking the seasonal patterns of the species' native habitat.

For related article click onto the following links:
How to Grow Mango from Seed
How to Grow tayberries
THE CANNONBALL TREE -  Couroupita guianensis
THE HAPPY ALIEN PLANT - Calceolaria uniflora
THE PARROT FLOWER - Impatiens psittacina
THE PIG FACE FRUIT - Solanum mammosum

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