Overview

Brief Summary

Introduction

The cultivated eggplant or aubergine, Solanum melongena, is cultivated world wide for its fruits which are used in cooking.Aubergines are native to southeast Asia, but were brought to Europe sometime in the 1500s, where they eventually became popular and were exported around the world (Eu-Sol: Eggplant history).The name by which the aubergine is known in the United States is eggplant, thought to come from old white fruited varieties where the fruit is egg-shaped.
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Taxonomy

Aubergine flowers are either white or purple and have at their centre a bottle-shaped cone of stamens where pollen is held.Aubergines have large felty leaves that are densely covered with tiny star-shaped (stellate) hairs. These hairs often have a purplish tinge, especially when the plants are grown in strong sunlight.The wild relatives and most local varieties of aubergines have prominent stem prickles (also sometimes called spines, but technically they are like rose thorns and can be broken off and so are called prickles), but through selection by humans many of the cultivated varieties lack these prickles. This makes sense, as harvesting the fruits from a very prickly is not much fun. You can sometimes still feel the prickles on the calyx at the base of an aubergine fruit.The name by which the aubergine is known in the United States is eggplant, thought to come from old white fruited varieties where the fruit is egg-shaped. Plant breeders select different fruit shapes and colours and cross the plants to create the many cultivated types we grow in our gardens.
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Comprehensive Description

Introduction

The eggplant is an important food crop that belongs to the same family (Solanaceae) and genus (Solanum) as the potato and tomato. It is a very popular vegetable in many parts of the world, particularly in the warm parts of southern Europe, the Middle East, and Asia. The eggplant has a number of different names in English speaking countries – the two most common are eggplant and aubergine. The plants were originally called eggplant because the fruit on the first plants that arrived in Northern Europe and America, which were grown as ornamentals in the 1600s, looked just like small white eggs. These plants are still available today but their fruits are not as tasty as the well-known dark purple variety.

Today, eggplants come in many shapes, sizes, and colours and are enjoyed around the world. Several different species of Solanum are commonly known as eggplant: Solanum melongena is the common eggplant or aubergine, Solanum aethiopicum is the Gilo eggplant, and Solanum macrocarpon is the Goma eggplant.

Wild eggplants

As with many of today’s kitchen vegetables, the wild varieties of eggplant look very different from the varieties that are commonly available in our food markets. The fruits on wild eggplants are small (ranging from pea-size to baseball-size), yellow in colour, and taste very bitter. The stem of the plant can also be very spiny. Wild varieties grow in India, Africa, and Southeast Asia and most botanists have believed that eggplant originated in India. However, some botanists think that the domesticated eggplant originated in Southeast Asia because there are more varieties of eggplant found there than anywhere else.

Wild eggplant varieties are very bitter – almost inedible – and, interestingly, nearly all wild eggplants seem to be resistant to the pests and diseases that commonly affect domesticated varieties. This may be because bugs and insects choose to stay well clear of something that contains so many bitter compounds.

Domestication of the eggplant

It is not known exactly where the eggplant was first domesticated, but most botanists think that ancient civilisations in Southeast Asia were the first to grow, and gradually improve, eggplants for eating. Over many years, they selected seeds to grow for the next season only from plants with preferred qualities. The favoured plants most likely had tastier (less bitter) and bigger fruit, and smoother stems.

Eggplants were grown in China as early as 59 BC and Chinese people used some of the techniques that are still used today, including hybridisation or cross breeding, to create their own varieties of different shaped and coloured fruits. The long and slender eggplant varieties are today referred to as Chinese eggplants. It is said that in China, as part of her “bride price” a woman used to be required to produce at least 12 eggplant recipes prior to her wedding day.

Eggplants grow well in hot temperatures and don’t like frosts so they grow very well in warmer parts of the world such as Southeast Asia, South America, and southern Europe. They are traditionally a summer vegetable although it is now possible to buy eggplant almost year round because many farmers use greenhouses. As our climate warms, eggplant may be set to spread in both cultivation and popularity. Asia accounts for 78% of world eggplant production; Turkey, the largest producer in the European Union, accounts for 19%. European eggplant harvests are often consumed locally, as well as exported to colder countries in northern Europe.

Use of the eggplant

Eggplant is cooked and eaten in a variety of ways; it can be marinated, stuffed, roasted, grilled, fried, or stewed. Well-known recipes include melanzane parmigiana in Italy, a delicious dip called Baba Ghanoush in the Middle East, and Bangan ka Bhurta (Indian Eggplant). In Japan, it is among the top five most important vegetables and is eaten in many different ways.

Eggplants have a unique flavour and because of their sponge-like flesh they tend to absorb many flavours of the ingredients they are cooked with. Some cooks believe that "salting" the eggplant prior to cooking helps to reduce the amount of oil it absorbs and removes any bitterness. Salting involves cutting the eggplant into slices, sprinkling them with salt, and leaving them for 20-30 minutes until beads of water form on the surface. The water is then wiped off and the eggplant is ready to be cooked. Many other cooks believe that salting is not necessary anymore because bitterness has been bred out of the fruit.

How the eggplant has changed

There is a big difference between modern eggplants and the wild varieties from India, Southeast Asia, and Africa. A large variety of eggplants are now available — from the dark purple teardrop ones to pink and white stripy Italian eggplant and long, skinny Chinese eggplants. The main changes to the fruit, which have resulted from many years of plant breeding, include a much better tasting fruit, often much bigger fruit, lots of different colours and sizes, and also a much higher yield (more fruit per plant). However, the changes to the eggplant have not been all been for the best. Plant breeders now realise that wild eggplant (so bitter it is almost inedible for humans) is rarely attacked by pests, yet the domesticated varieties are susceptible to attack from a variety of pests. Wild eggplants also tend to be more drought resistant than the commonly cultivated varieties. Plant breeders are looking closely at the qualities of the wild relatives of eggplant to try to enhance resistance to pests and disease in the domesticated varieties but, at the same time, maintain the delicious taste.

To find out more about the work of EU-SOL, a multi-million Euro research project funded by the European Commission focussed on improving the quality of potatoes and tomatoes, click here.

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Miscellaneous Details

"Notes: Plains, Cultivated"
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Biology

Aubergines have unusual flowers, in any given inflorescence (group of flowers) only the bottom flower is hermaphroditic and sets fruit. The rest of the flowers are functionally male and only serve as pollen (male gamete) donors. This sex expression system is called “andromonoecy” and is relatively common in wild relatives of the aubergine.Species with andromonoecious sex expression can put all their investment into one large fruit rather than many small ones. Human beings have exploited andromonoecious sex expression and selected for larger and larger fruits from that one basal flower.The fruit is green when it is immature, but when it is ripe becomes colored. Some varieties in China have fruits that are green when they are ripe. Most of the common types of aubergine have purple or purplish green fruit, but the fruits can be yellow, orange, red, purple or white.
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Description

General: Eggplant is an annual in temperate zones and perennial in the tropics. This plant is a warm-season frost-tender perennial that can be grown as an annual. Eggplants usually grow from 2-4 feet tall with many branches and large, rangy leaves. Eggplant leaves are, alternate and lobed, with the underside of most cultivars covered with dense wool-like hairs. The flowers are violet-colored, star-shaped, and bloom either as a solitary or in clusters of two or more. These characteristics give the plant an ornamental look.

Peggy Greb, Courtesy of USDA ARS

The fruit can vary in shape from oval to round and long to oblong. Most growers and consumer are accustom to seeing the mature fruit that is shiny purplish black, oval or pear shape. However, the mature fruit can be red, yellowish-white, or green.

The purplish black eggplants can be bitter with thick tough skins and fibrous flesh or mild-sweet with thin tender skin and non-fibrous flesh. The white skin eggplant is firmer, drier and milder tasting but has a very thick skin that must be peeled prior to eating.

Distribution: For current distribution, please consult the Plant Profile page for this species on the PLANTS Web site.

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Alternative names

Aubergine, birenghenas (Chamorro), brinjal, paegani (Tuvalu), gaigani, jiloeiro, melongene,melanzana, baigan, gilo’, berenjena, badinjan, Italian eggplant, pea apple, sasumber, terong, garden egg, mad apple

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Distribution

National Distribution

United States

Origin: Exotic

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Unknown/Undetermined

Confidence: Confident

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Tamil Nadu: All districts
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Distribution and ecology

The original area of origin of the aubergine is not well known, but it has long been thought to come from the region around India and Burma.The wild relatives of aubergines are native to savannahs of eastern Africa and the tropical forests of Asia, but the origins of the aubergine are not well understood. It is thought to have been first domesticated somewhere in Southeast Asia. Chinese literature has references to the cultivation of aubergines in 96 BC (Wang et al., 2008).Asia produces most of the world’s aubergines (78%), but Turkey is a significant area for cultivation, with 19% of world production coming from there.If climate change results in drying and warming, then aubergine cultivation could become more important in northern Europe as well.
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Distribution: Native to India.
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India, widely cultivated for its edible fruits (aubergines) elsewhere.
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Physical Description

Morphology

Elevation Range

1200-1500 m
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Description

Suffruticose annual up to 90 cm tall. Stem and branches stellately hairy and with few prickles. Leaves 5-20 x 4-15 cm, ovate to rhomboid-ovate, sinuate to lobed. Flowers solitary or up to 5 in number, purple to pale violet; pedicel recurved, up to 5 cm in fruit. Calyx campanulate, 15-18 mm long, sparsely prickled, enlarging in fruit. Corolla limb 3-5 cm broad; lobes triangular-ovate, stellate-tomentose to the outside. Anthers 5-6 mm long. Filaments 3-4 mm long. Berry variously shaped from ovoid to subglobose or elongated, 8-15 cm long, usually dark purple or various shades of it. Seeds subreniform, c. 3 mm long, minutely rugose.
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Description

Herbs or subshrubs to 60 cm tall, sparingly armed, pubescent with stellate hairs. Stems and branches minutely tomentose, sometimes with stout recurved prickles. Petiole 2-4.5 cm; leaf blade ovate to oblong-ovate, 6-18 × 5-11 cm, stellate-tomentose or sometimes with a few fine prickles on both surfaces, denser abaxially, base oblique, margin sinuate-lobed, apex obtuse. Inflorescences mostly solitary flowers, rarely reduced racemes; peduncle obsolete. Flowers andromonoecious. Pedicel 1-1.8 cm. Calyx stellate tomentose, often with ca. 3 mm prickles abaxially; lobes lanceolate. Corolla purplish or violet, rotate, 3(-5) cm; lobes deltate, ca. 1 cm. Filaments ca. 2.5 mm; anthers ca. 7.5 mm. Style 4-7 mm. Berry black, purple, pink, brown, or yellow, yellowish when completely mature, greatly variable in form and size, mostly more than 6 cm in diam., with a thick, spongy, whitish mesocarp and septal region. Seeds lenticular, yellowish, 2.8-3.9 × 2.5-3.5 mm.
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Diagnostic Description

Diagnostic

Habit: Subshrub
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Synonym

Solanum esculentum Dunal; S. melongena var. esculentum (Dunal) Nees; S. melongena var. serpentinum Linnaeus; S. melongena var. depressum Linnaeus.
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Ecology

Habitat

Habitat & Distribution

Widely cultivated in China and other countries
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Dispersal

Establishment

Normally, transplants are used to establish eggplants in the field. Seeds germinate in 5 days at 86 degrees F, but may require up to 13 days at 68 degrees F. Transplants require 6 to 8 weeks growth at daytime temperatures of 70 to 80 degrees F and night time temperatures of 65 to 70 degrees F to be ready for field planting after all danger of frost is past.

Careful watering is necessary at the time of transplanting because transplants are very sensitive to water stress. Plants are typically established in 30-to-36-inch rows with 18 to 24 inches between plants.

Eggplant transplants are very responsive to the use of black plastic mulch and drip irrigation. This process provides warmer soil temperatures in the spring, protection from weeds, and consistent water availability. This plastic mulch along with irrigation will allow growers to grow double rows of eggplant within the same row.

Eggplant grown from seed in small farms should be seeded 4 to 6 weeks before the plants are to be set out. Commercial mixtures for starting seeds are available. Seeds are planted by placing 2 seeds per inch in rows 4-6 inches apart a depth of 1/2 inch in a medium that is kept moist and at a temperature of 75° to 85 °F. Be sure the soil does not dry out during the germination period. Once the seeds germinate keep the soil moist to the touch. Over watering will cause damping-off.

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Associations

In Great Britain and/or Ireland:
Foodplant / pathogen
Alternaria dematiaceous anamorph of Alternaria solani infects and damages live Solanum melongena
Other: unusual host/prey

Foodplant / pathogen
subepidermal then erumpent, brown or brownish black pycnidium of Ascochyta coelomycetous anamorph of Didymella lycopersici infects and damages live fruit of Solanum melongena
Remarks: season: 5-7

Foodplant / parasite
Golovinomyces orontii parasitises live Solanum melongena

Foodplant / parasite
sporangium of Peronospora tabacina parasitises live Solanum melongena

Foodplant / miner
larva of Tuta absoluta mines fruit of Solanum melongena

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Behaviour

Aubergine flowers are pollinated by bees who grasp the anther cone with their legs and 'buzz' to release pollen, which they then collect by scraping it off their bodies.Bumblebees are common aubergine pollinators in temperate regions.
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Cyclicity

Flower/Fruit

Fl. Per.: July-September.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Solanum melongena

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Solanum melongena

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 3
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

National NatureServe Conservation Status

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNA - Not Applicable

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Conservation

As a species, Solanum melongena is not rare or threatened, but many older (called “heirloom”) varieties are disappearing from cultivation and there is some concern that their genes may be lost for use in future plant breeding.Gene banks for Solanum melongena preserve these variants.
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Status

Please consult the PLANTS Web site and your State Department of Natural Resources for this plant’s current status (e.g. threatened or endangered species, state noxious status, and wetland indicator values).

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Threats

Pests and potential problems

Eggplant are subject to a number of problems, including diseases, insects and those brought on by weather and other environmental factors.

Diseases of eggplant include seed rot, damping-off, anthracnose, late blight, alternaria leaf spot and verticillium wilt. Seed treatment and proper growing conditions can reduce seed rot and damping-off. Verticillium wilt is best controlled by long term rotations with non-related crops that are not susceptible to wilt, and by planting in well-drained soil.

Insects can also cause damage to eggplant. Cutworms may feed on new leaves or cut stems on small plants. Spider mites can be a problem during hot weather. Flea beetles, which chew small holes in the leaves of eggplant, can be severe in some years. The Colorado potato beetle can also cause severe damage if left uncontrolled.

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Management

These species are introduced in Switzerland.
  • Aeschimann, D. & C. Heitz. 2005. Synonymie-Index der Schweizer Flora und der angrenzenden Gebiete (SISF). 2te Auflage. Documenta Floristicae Helvetiae N° 2. Genève.   http://www.crsf.ch/ External link.
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Cultivars, improved and selected materials (and area of origin)

‘Nitta/Molokai’ hybrid is a popular eggplant (Solanum melongena) that is grown on Guam. The Department of Horticulture of University of Hawaii released the cultivar in 1995. The hybrid produces high quality fruits with long fruit length, deep maroon color, and longer shelf life.

Please contact your local agricultural extension specialist for advice on cultivars for your area. Also, check the links at the bottom of the PLANTS Plant Profile for this species.

Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service (formerly Soil Conservation Service) office for more information. Look in the phone book under ”United States Government.” The Natural Resources Conservation Service will be listed under the subheading “Department of Agriculture.”

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Small producer and gardeners find it more convenient to buy their eggplants as transplants rather than to grow their own from seed due to insufficient space, inadequate growing conditions, lack of time, or because they only need a few plants. On the other hand, some varieties are not locally available as transplants so one has no choice but to grow their own from seed.

Transplanting: When purchasing transplants, select those that are sturdy, dark green in color and not yet in bloom. Leaves should be fully expanded and free of diseases and insects. Transplants grown in individual containers may cost more, but are usually worth the added expense, because their roots are disturbed less when they are transplanted in the field.

Transplant young seedlings into growing containers when the stems have straightened and the first true leaves have opened. This is usually 15 to 20 days after the seed was sown, but may be longer at lower temperatures. The young plants should be exposed to full sunlight if possible. The best temperatures for growing transplants are from 65° to 75°F during the day and 60° to 70°F at night. Growing the young transplants in a hot bed or cold frame works well.

Hardening off the plants enables them to withstand the planting shock. Start the hardening off process 10 days to 2 weeks before planting them in the garden. Begin by moving the plants in their containers outdoors to a shady spot (a cold frame works well for this purpose). Move the plants into sunlight for short periods each day, increasing the length of exposure gradually. Reduce the watering frequency to slow growth, but don't allow the plants to wilt. Don't put tender seedlings outdoors on windy days. Once the plants are hardened off and the danger of a frost is passed, they can be planted in the field.

Planting: The eggplant is a warm season crop and is very tender to frost. It can even be injured by periods of cold temperature above freezing, and is more sensitive to low temperatures than either tomatoes or peppers. The plants are usually set 2 to 3 feet apart in rows 3 to 4 feet apart and in full sun.

Site preparation: Till soil to a depth of 6-10 inches to allow for root development. In areas that have compacted soil till or subsoil to a depth of 18 to 24 inches to destroy the hard pan. Growers with small plot can prepare the soil with the use of a tiller or by spading. Soil preparation should be preformed in the fall after the harvest season or in the spring before planting. Soil should not be worked while it is wet.

Plant eggplant in the full sun. Those growing in partial shade will produce less than optimum yields and will take longer for the fruit to ripen. These young seedlings will perform better with protection from the wind. The site should have fertile, well drained soil. If possible, avoid planting where eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, or peppers were planted the previous year. All of these can be susceptible to and harbor similar disease problems.

Eggplant is a heavy feeder and therefore may need extra fertilizer for a good crop. A soil test may be necessary to determine the fertility of your soil. If no soil test, apply 2 to 3 lbs of a complete fertilizer (i.e. 10-10-10, 6-12-12, or 9-16-16) per 100 feet of row. This application should be completed in two separate operations by incorporating one half of the fertilizer at the time of planting and the remaining fertilizer after the first fruit appears. Some soils may require a ¼ cup of starter fertilizer (high in phosphorus) solution be poured around each newly transplanted seedling to help stimulate growth. A side dressing of ¼ cup of fertilizer incorporated in a 2-foot circle around the base of the plant immediately after flowering will be beneficial on soils low in nitrogen. Do not over-fertilize.

Watering: Eggplant need generous moisture at all times. One inch of water each week is a minimum. This may vary, however, due to air temperature, wind, soil type, rainfall, and whether or not a mulch is used.

Sandy soils require more frequent watering. Heavy soakings at weekly intervals are better than many light soakings as light, frequent watering promote shallow root systems. Mulching will reduce water loss from the soil.

Mulches help keep weeds down, reduce water loss and stabilize soil temperatures. Inorganic mulches, such as polyethylene and aluminum, are available in many farm and garden stores. Organic mulches, such as straw, leaves or grass clippings, can also be used. Organic mulches should be at least 2 inches, and preferably 3 to 4 inches, deep. Mulching too early in the season with organic mulches will keep the soil cool, resulting in slow growth, poor fruit set, and shallow rooting. When mulches are used all fertilizer and drip irrigation must be applied before applying the mulch unless fertigation is practiced.

Weed Control: Weeds compete with eggplant for sunlight, nutrients and water. In small plantings, weeds are best controlled with cultivation or mulches; however in large plantings, herbicides can be used.

Harvesting: Eggplant fruits are harvested from the time they are one-third grown to full size. However, removing the fruit before the flesh becomes soft and the seeds begin to harden. Over-mature fruits that have passed the prime stage for eating become spongy, the seeds harden and darken, and the fruit surface becomes dull. Fruits can be snapped from the plant, but less damage usually occurs if they are clipped with a sharp knife or scissors. The short stem that attaches the fruit to the stalk is often covered with sharp spines so gloves may be necessary when harvesting. The harvested fruits are delicate; be careful when handling them.

Staking may be necessary later in the season as the number and size of the fruit increase. Rain, wind and irrigation can cause the branches to break or droop. Fruit touching the ground may spoil.

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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Uses

Human Food: Eggplant fruit is usually baked, sautéed, stuffed, cut into strips or cubes and fried. It can be baked, stewed, fried, or added to soups, curries etc. It is a good source of vitamin C and potassium. Expansive information is available through the links for this species on its PLANTS Plant Profile.

Ethnobotanic: It has been used as an antidote to poisonous mushrooms (Duke & Ayensu 1985). It is bruised with vinegar and has been used as a poultice for cracked nipples, abscesses and hemorrhoids.

The leaves are narcotic and toxic. A decoction is applied to discharging sores and internal hemorrhages. A soothing and emollient poultice for the treatment of burns, abscesses, cold sores and similar conditions can be made from the leaves. The ashes of the peduncle are used in the treatment of intestinal hemorrhages, piles and toothache. A decoction of the root is an astringent.

The fruit helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and is suitable as part of a diet to help regulate high blood pressure (Chiej 1984).

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Risks

Caution

Eggplant leaves are toxic and should only be used externally.

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Wikipedia

Eggplant

For the color, see Eggplant (color). For the testing tool, see Eggplant (GUI testing tool).

Eggplant (Solanum melongena) is a species of nightshade commonly known in British English as aubergine and also known as melongene, garden egg, or guinea squash. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia and South Africa as brinjal.[1][2][3][4] It bears a fruit of the same name (commonly either "eggplant" in American, Australian English and sometimes Canadian English, or "aubergine" in British English and Canadian English) that is widely used in cooking, most notably as an important ingredient in dishes such as moussaka and ratatouille. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to both the tomato and the potato. It was originally domesticated in India and Bangladesh from the wild nightshade, the thorn or bitter apple, S. incanum.[5][6][7]

Description[edit]

The eggplant is a delicate, tropical perennial often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates. 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. Semiwild 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 flower is white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The egg-shaped glossy purple fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open. On wild plants, the fruit is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter, but very much larger in cultivated forms, reaching 30 cm (12 in) or more in length.

The fruit is botanically classified as a berry and contains numerous small, soft seeds which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids (being a relative of tobacco).

Names and etymology[edit]

Closeup of an eggplant flower of a long-fruited Chinese variety in Hong Kong.

Some 18th-century European cultivars were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs, hence the name "eggplant".[8]

Many other names, some of which are superficially quite different, all derive ultimately from a Dravidian word, with modern reflexes in Kannada Badanekayi, Telugu Vangakaya, Malayalam vaṟutina, Tamil vaṟutuṇai. This was borrowed into Sanskrit and Pali as vātiṅgaṇa, vātigama, which in turn was borrowed by Persian as bādingān بادنجان, then by Arabic as (al-)bāḏinjān باذنجان. In Albanian it is known as patrixhan or patellxhan, both derived from Arabic.[9]

The Arabic name is the common source of almost all European names for this plant, but through two distinct paths of transmission, with the melongene family coming through the eastern Mediterranean, and the aubergine family through the western Mediterranean.

In the eastern Mediterranean, Byzantine Greek borrowed bāḏinjān as μελιτζάνα melitzána, influenced by Greek μελανο- 'black'. That form came into medieval Latin as melongena, which was used in the botanical works of Tournefort and Linnaeus. Though melongene has become obsolete in the standard English, as has the French melanjan, it persists in the Caribbean English melongene or meloongen. The usual word in Italian remains melanzana.[9] An alternative Italian etymology is "mela insana", insane apple.

Even the archaic English name mad-apple comes from the melongena family: in Italian, the word melanzana was reinterpreted in Italian as mela insana, and translated into English as mad apple.[10]

In the western Mediterranean, (al)-bāḏinjān became Spanish berenjena, Catalan as albergínia, and Portuguese beringela. The Catalan form was borrowed by French as aubergine, which was then borrowed into British English.[11]

In Eastern Slavic languages, such as Russian and Ukrainian, the word baklazhan is used, while Turkish has patlıcan. The Hungarian name of the plant, padlizsán, comes from Bulgarian патладжан or патлиджан, which is in turn from Ottoman Turkish.

In South Asian, South African, Malaysian, Singaporean, and West Indian English, the fruit is called brinjal, from the Portuguese.[12] The Indic name baingan or baigan is also sometimes used in South Asian English.

In Kiswahili, it is called biringanya.

History[edit]

The plant is native to the Indian Subcontinent.[5][6] It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory.[citation needed] The first known written record of the plant is found in Qí mín yào shù (齊民要術), an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544.[13] The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek and Roman names, indicate it was introduced throughout the Mediterranean area by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages. A book on agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam in 12th century Arabic Spain described how to grow aubergines.[14] There are records from later medieval Catalan and Spanish.[15]

The aubergine is unrecorded in England until the 16th century. An English botany book in 1597 stated:

This plant groweth in Egypt almost everywhere... bringing forth fruit of the bigness of a great cucumber.... We have had the same in our London gardens, where it hath borne flowers, but the winter approaching before the time of ripening, it perished: nothwithstanding it came to bear fruit of the bigness of a goose egg one extraordinary temperate year... but never to the full ripeness.[16]

Because of the plant's relationship with the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous. The flowers and leaves can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine.[17]

Cultivated varieties[edit]

Three varieties of eggplant.

Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape, and color, though typically purple. The most widely cultivated varieties (cultivars) in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm long (4 12 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 (2.2 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 are 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', 'Violetta di Firenze', 'Bianca Smufata di Rosa' (heirloom), and 'Prosperosa' (heirloom). Bicolored cultivars with 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, a village of the Udupi district in Karnataka state.

Cooking[edit]

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, or Eggplant Parmesan.

The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Many recipes advise salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging"), to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties—including large, purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe—do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, making for very rich dishes, but salting reduces the amount of oil absorbed. Eggplant, due to its texture and bulk, can be used as a meat substitute in vegan and vegetarian cuisine.[18][19]

The fruit flesh is smooth, as in the related tomato. The numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible.

Eggplant is used in the cuisine of many countries. Eggplant is widely used in its native Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with vegetables, native to Odisha), chutney, curry, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name "baingan" or "Brinjal") as the "king of vegetables". Roasted, skinned, mashed, mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices and then slow cooked make the famous Indian and Pakistani dish Baingan ka Bhartha or gojju, similar to salată de vinete in Romania. Another version of the dish, begun-pora (eggplant charred or burnt), is very popular in Bangladesh and the east Indian states of Odisha and West Bengal where the pulp of the vegetable is mixed with raw chopped shallot, green chilies, salt, fresh coriander and mustard oil. Sometimes fried tomatoes and deep-fried potatoes are also added which is called begun bhorta. In a dish called bharli vangi, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala, and then cooked in oil.

It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, or deep fried as in the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish karnıyarık or Turkish and Greek musakka/moussaka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In Iranian cuisine, it is blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yogurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması (meaning fried aubergines) or without yogurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. Perhaps the best-known Turkish eggplant dishes are imam bayıldı (vegetarian) and karnıyarık (with minced meat).

Almagro eggplants

It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Arab baba ghanoush and the similar Greek melitzanosalata. In Romania a mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania or ajvar in Croatia and the Balkans. A Spanish dish called escalivada calls for strips of roasted aubergine, sweet pepper, onion and tomato. In the La Mancha region of central Spain a small eggplant is pickled in vinegar, paprika, olive oil and red peppers. The result is berenjena de Almagro, Ciudad Real. A Levantine specialty is Makdous, another pickling of eggplants, stuffed with red peppers and walnuts in olive oil.

Eggplant can be hollowed out and stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings, and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani. It can also be found in Chinese cuisine, braised (紅燒茄子), stewed (魚香茄子), steamed (凉拌茄子), or stuffed (釀茄子).

Cultivation[edit]

Eggplants being sorted just after harvest.

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 10 weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.

Many pests and diseases which afflict other solanaceous plants, 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 beetles, flea beetles, aphids, and spider mites. (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 somewhat woody stems. Flowers are complete, containing both female and male structures, and may be self-pollinated or cross-pollinated.[20]

Statistics[edit]

According to FAO in 2012, production of eggplant is highly concentrated, with 90% of output coming from five countries. China is the top producer (58% of world output) and India is second (25%), followed by Iran, Egypt and Turkey. More than 4,000,000 acres (1,600,000 ha) are devoted to the cultivation of eggplant in the world.[21]

Worldwide eggplant production.
Top ten countries
with the largest production of eggplant in 2012[22]
(Tonnes)
RankCountryProductionRankCountryProduction
1 China28,800,0006 Indonesia518,827
2 India12,200,0007 Iraq460,000
3 Iran1,300,0008 Japan327,400
4 Egypt1,193,8549 Spain246,600
5 Turkey799,28510 Italy217,690

Health properties[edit]

Eggplant, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy104 kJ (25 kcal)
5.88 g
Sugars3.53 g
Dietary fiber3 g
0.18 g
0.98 g
Vitamins
Thiamine (B1)
(3%)
0.039 mg
Riboflavin (B2)
(3%)
0.037 mg
Niacin (B3)
(4%)
0.649 mg
(6%)
0.281 mg
Vitamin B6
(6%)
0.084 mg
Folate (B9)
(6%)
22 μg
Vitamin C
(3%)
2.2 mg
Vitamin E
(2%)
0.3 mg
Vitamin K
(3%)
3.5 μg
Trace metals
Calcium
(1%)
9 mg
Iron
(2%)
0.23 mg
Magnesium
(4%)
14 mg
Manganese
(11%)
0.232 mg
Phosphorus
(3%)
24 mg
Potassium
(5%)
229 mg
Zinc
(2%)
0.16 mg

Percentages are roughly approximated using US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Nutritionally, eggplant is low in fat, protein, and carbohydrates. It also contains relatively low amounts of most important vitamins and minerals. A 1998 study at the Institute of Biology of São Paulo State University, Brazil, found eggplant juice to significantly reduce weight, plasma cholesterol levels, and aortic cholesterol content in hypercholesterolemic rabbits.[23]

The results of a 2000 study on humans suggested S. melongena infusion had a modest and transitory effect, no different from diet and exercise.[24]

A 2004 study at the Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo found that "eggplant extract with orange juice is not to be considered an alternative to statins in reducing serum levels of cholesterol".[25]

The nicotine content of aubergines, a concentration of 0.01 mg per 100g, is low in absolute terms, but is higher than any other edible plant. The amount of nicotine consumed by eating eggplant may be comparable to being in the presence of a smoker, depending on the cooking method.[26] On average, 9 kg (20 lbs) of eggplant contains about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.

Allergies[edit]

Case reports of itchy skin or mouth, mild headache, and stomach upset after handling or eating eggplant have been reported anecdotally and published in medical journals (see also oral allergy syndrome). A 2008 study of a sample of 741 people in India, where eggplant is commonly consumed, found nearly 10% reported some allergic symptoms after consuming eggplant, while 1.4% showed symptoms within less than two hours.[27] Contact dermatitis from eggplant leaves[28] and allergy to eggplant flower pollen[29] have also been reported. Individuals who are atopic (genetically predisposed to developing certain allergic hypersensitivity reactions) are more likely to have a reaction to eggplant, which may be because eggplant is high in histamines. A few proteins and at least one secondary metabolite have been identified as potential allergens.[30] Cooking eggplant thoroughly seems to preclude reactions in some individuals, but at least one of the allergenic proteins survives the cooking process.

Varieties[edit]

Genetically engineered variety[edit]

Bt brinjal is a transgenic eggplant which has a 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).[32]

On 9 February 2010, the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, imposed a moratorium on the cultivation of Bt brinjal.[33] His decision was made after protest from several groups responding to regulatory approval of the cultivation of Bt brinjal in October, 2009. Ramesh stated the moratorium will last "for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence".

Synonyms[edit]

The eggplant is quite often featured in the older scientific literature under the junior synonyms S. ovigerum and S. trongum. Several other now-invalid names have been uniquely applied to it:[34]

Segmented purple eggplant.

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.[34]

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.[34]

Like the potato and Solanum lichtensteinii, but unlike the tomato, which 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 and 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, and that of Blanco to S. lasiocarpum.[34]

Gallery[edit]

The following are eggplant fruit and plants from various parts of the world.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "brinjal: definition of brinjal in Oxford Dictionary (British & World English)". Oxford University Press. Retrieved 25 March 2014. "brinjal : brin|jal Pronunciation: /ˈbrɪndʒɔːl , -dʒɒl/ NOUN Indian & South African An aubergine. Origin based on Portuguese berinjela, from Arabic al-bāḏinjān (see aubergine)." 
  2. ^ "brinjal | Infopedia". Singapore Government. Retrieved 25 March 2014. "Brinjal (Solanum melongena), is an easily cultivated plant belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its fruit is high in nutrition and commonly consumed as a vegetable. The fruit and other parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine." 
  3. ^ Chandran, Sheela (March 1, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM). "Going green's good for the wallet". The Star Online, Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad. Retrieved 25 March 2014. "Dr Hashim devotes a large portion of his time tending to his vegetable plot where spinach, lady’s finger, sweet potato, brinjal, sweet corn and long beans grow." 
  4. ^ "Start your own vegetable garden". The Star, Independent Newspapers, South Africa. March 11, 2011. Retrieved 25 March 2014. "Plant this month beetroot, broccoli, carrots, celery, brinjal (frost-free areas), lettuce (choose heat tolerant varieties), peppers (frost-free areas), spinach, Swiss chard, a first sowing of peas, and in cold gardens a final sowing of beans." 
  5. ^ a b Tsao and Lo in "Vegetables: Types and Biology". Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering by Yiu H. Hui (2006). CRC Press. ISBN 1-57444-551-0.
  6. ^ a b Doijode, S. D. (2001). Seed storage of horticultural crops (pp 157). Haworth Press: ISBN 1-56022-901-2
  7. ^ Ancestor of brinjal Solanum incanum
  8. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 1st edition, 1891
  9. ^ a b Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2001, s.v. 'melongena' and 'melongene'
  10. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, 2000, s.v.
  11. ^ aubergine
  12. ^ Oxford English Dictionary 1st edition, 1888, s.v.
  13. ^ Fuchsia Dunlop (2006), Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province, Ebury Press, p. 202 
  14. ^ The Book of Agriculture by Ibn Al-Awwam, translated from Arabic to French by J.-J. Clément-Mullet, year 1866, volume 2 page 236.
  15. ^ The first record of Catalan albergínia = "aubergine" is in 1328 according to the Catalan dictionary Diccionari.cat. There is an earlier record in Catalan, from the 13th century, according to the French Centre National de Ressources Textuelles et Lexicales. A number of old variant spellings for the aubergine word in Romance dialects in Iberia indicate the word was borrowed medievally from Arabic; Dictionary of Arabic and Allied Loanwords: Spanish, Portuguese, Catalan, Galician and Kindred Dialects, by Federico Corriente, year 2008 page 60.
  16. ^ The Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, by John Gerarde, year 1597 page 274.
  17. ^ http://www.kitchendaily.com/read/raw-eggplant-poisonous?wwu=10
  18. ^ http://www.pennilessparenting.com/2011/09/vegan-meat-substitute.html
  19. ^ http://www.vegetarians.co.nz/articles/vegetarian-meat-substitutes/
  20. ^ Westerfield, Robert (2008-11-14). "Pollination of Vegetable Crops" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  21. ^ "FAOSTAT". FAO. 2012-05-12. Retrieved 2012-05-12. 
  22. ^ Faostat. Faostat.fao.org. Retrieved on 2014-02-18.
  23. ^ JORGE, Paulo Afonso Ribeiro et al. Effect of eggplant on plasma lipid levels, lipidic peroxidation and reversion of endothelial dysfunction in experimental hypercholesterolemia. Arq. Bras. Cardiol. [online]. 1998, vol.70, n.2, pp. 87-91. ISSN 0066-782X. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0066-782X1998000200004
  24. ^ Braz J Med Biol Res, September 2000, Volume 33(9) 1027-1036
  25. ^ Juliana Marchiori Praça, Andréa Thomaz, Bruno Caramelli. "Eggplant (Solanum melongena) Extract Does Not Alter Serum Lipid Levels". Arq Bras Cardiol, volume 82 (nº 3), 273–6, 2004.
  26. ^ Edward F. Domino, Erich Hornbach, Tsenge Demana, The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables, The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 329:437 August 5, 1993 Number 6
  27. ^ B. N. Harish Babu *, P. A. Mahesh † and Y. P. Venkatesh * A cross-sectional study on the prevalence of food allergy to eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) reveals female predominance. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38(11):1795–1802, 2008
  28. ^ Kabashima K, Miyachi Y. Contact dermatitis due to eggplant Contact Dermatitis 2004;50(2):101–102
  29. ^ Gerth van Wijk R, Toorenenbergen AW, Dieges PH. Occupational pollinosis in commercial gardeners. [Dutch] Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1989;133(42):2081-3
  30. ^ SN Pramod,* YP Venkatesh. Allergy to Eggplant (Solanum melongena) Caused by a Putative Secondary Metabolite. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2008; Vol. 18(1): 59–62
  31. ^ Stephens, James M. "Eggplant, White — Solanum ovigerum Dun. and Solanum melongena var. esculentum (L.) Nees.". University of Florida IFAS Extension. Retrieved 31 August 2012. 
  32. ^ Briefing Paper on Bt brinjal Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
  33. ^ "India says no to first GM food crop". Agence France-Presse (AFP) (New Delhi). 9 February 2010. 
  34. ^ a b c d Solanaceae Source [2008]

Further reading[edit]

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The ‘Brinjal or egg plant’ is commonly cultivated throughout the country. Sometimes found as an escape, where it becomes quite prickly and with smaller berries. The leaves have narcotic properties and the seed is used as a stimulant (Chopra, Gloss. Ind. Med. Pl. 229. 1956).
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Edible fruits.
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