African eggplant, scarlet eggplant, bitter tomato (En); aubergine africaine, aubergine écarlate, tomate amère, djakattou (Fr); nakati etíope, berenjena escarlata (Sp); 非洲紅茄 (Cn)
Closely related species is S. macrocarpon.
Based on usage, S. aethiopicum is classified into four groups. The Gilo group has edible fruit of many shapes (depressed
spherical to elliptic in outline) and sizes (2-8 cm across). The Shum group is a short much-branched plant with small hairless leaves and shoots that are plucked frequently as a leafy green. However, the small (1.5 cm across) very bitter fruit is not eaten. The Kumba group has a stout main stem with large hairless leaves that can be picked as a green vegetable, and later produces very large (5-10 cm across) grooved fruit that is picked green or even red. The Aculeatum group produces flat-shaped fruit.
Sub-Saharan Africa, South America
Orange-red fruit is eaten boiled, steamed, pickled, or in stews with other vegetables or meats. Young leaves are cut and used in soups.
Beta-carotene: extremely high in leaves, low in fruit; vitamin E: low in fruit; riboflavin: low in leaves and fruit; folic acid: low in fruit; ascorbic acid: high in leaves, low in fruit; calcium: extremely high in leaves, low in fruit; iron: high in leaves, low in fruit; protein: 4.8% in leaves, 1.0% in fruit. Leaves contain alkaloids, which possess anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive properties, and oxalic acid. The bitter taste in leaves is attributed to furostanol glycosides (saponins).
Read more: African eggplant, in Discovering Indigenous Treasures: Promising Indigenous Vegetables from Around the World. 2009. AVRDC – The World Vegetable Center