Thursday, January 03, 2008

Solanaceae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Solanaceae - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Solanaceae is a family of flowering plants, many of which are edible, while others are poisonous (some have both edible and toxic parts). The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear; it has been suggested it originates from the Latin verb solari, meaning "to soothe". This would presumably refer to alleged soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species found in the family. It is more likely, however, that the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun and its rays, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum) is known as the sunberry. The family is also informally known as the nightshade or potato family. The family includes the Datura or Jimson weed, eggplant, mandrake, deadly nightshade or belladonna, capsicum (paprika, chile pepper), potato, tobacco, tomato, and petunia. The Solanaceae family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids that can range in their toxicity to humans and animals from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities.

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