Traditional uses and benefits of Hairy Eggplant

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Hairy Eggplant Quick Facts
Name: Hairy Eggplant
Scientific Name: Solanum lasiocarpum
Origin South Asia – India, Sri Lanka; southeast Asia – Kampuchea Thailand, Vietnam Laos; Malesia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea; southern China – Guangdong, Guangxi, South and southeast Yunnan; and Taiwan
Colors Initially green when immature, but then ripens to a yellow or orange
Shapes Small and round fruit, approximately 1-2 centimeters in diameter
Taste Unique sweet and sour taste
Health benefits Coughs, asthma, fever, vomiting, sore throat, gonorrhea, female sexual disorders, itches, cuts, wounds and syphilis
Hairy eggplants, botanically classified as Solanum lasiocarpum is a member of the Solanaceae, or Nightshade family. The plant is native to south Asia – India, Sri Lanka; southeast Asia – Kampuchea Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Malesia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea; southern China – Guangdong, Guangxi, South and southeast Yunnan and Taiwan. It is found in the Bamaga area at the tip of Cape York Peninsula, north Queensland, Australia, possibly an introduced species. Today, Hairy eggplants are available at farmers markets, home gardens, and specialty grocers in Asia, South America, and the United States.

Also known as the Sour eggplant, Hairy Egg Plant, Hairy-Fruited Eggplant, Hairy Nightshade, Indian Nightshade, Terong Asam, Thai Hairy-Fruited Eggplant and Wild brinjal in English, Hairy eggplants has a number of names in other languages including Coconilla, Bura-Bura, Bolo maka, Cocochat, Pupu, Tupido, Pimpla, and Tupirito.  The plant is cultivated in tropical Asia, used in food additives for flavoring, and given to the sick as a folk medicine. In India, the locals use the fruit as a sour-relish in curries. In Thailand, a special kind of sauce called nam prek is made with the fruit. The small hairy fruits are occasionally seen in markets cleaned of their spiny exterior or even as a frozen product in ethnic grocery stores and are favored for their sweet and sour passion fruit-like flavor. The plants have also become prolific in everyday front-yard gardens, and because of its popularity, new varieties of Hairy eggplant have been developed that have thorn free vines and leaves.

Hairy Eggplant Facts

Name Hairy Eggplant
Scientific Name Solanum lasiocarpum
Native South Asia – India, Sri Lanka; southeast Asia – Kampuchea Thailand, Vietnam Laos; Malesia – Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, New Guinea; southern China – Guangdong, Guangxi, South and southeast Yunnan; and Taiwan
Common Names Hairy Egg Plant, Hairy-Fruited Eggplant, Hairy Nightshade, Indian Nightshade, Terong Asam, Thai Hairy-Fruited Eggplant, Wild brinjal
Name in Other Languages Bengali: Ram begun
Brunei : Tarong Pasai, Tokung
Burmese: Kaw-ku-tha, Tarabi
Chinese : Mao Ch’ieh, Mao Qie, mao Jia (毛茄), Yáng bù shí (羊不食)
English: Indian nightshade, Wild brinjal, hairy-fruited eggplant,
French : Aubergine De Siam Ŕ Fruit Hirsute
India : Ram Begun
Indonesia : Terong Perat, Cung Bulu, Latteoeng, Terong Asam
Laotian : Khüa Khôn, Khüa Puux
Malay: Dayak eggplant, Sarawak wild eggplant, Sour brinjal, Tarong pasai, Terong asam, Terung asam, Terong iban, Terung dayak, Pokok Terung Bulu
Malayalam: Anamodumuttikka, Pechunda, Anachunda, Veluthavazhuthana
Malaysia: Terong Berui, Terong Bulu, Terong Asam, Terong
Dayak, Terung Iban
Myanmar : Nbabawk, Sin-Hkayan, Sin-Kadi, Tarabi, Kaw-Ku-Tha
Papua New Guinea : Su, Su-Lamas, Kova-Sakau
Philippines : Talong Ayam, Tagutong, Balbalusangi, Basula, Tagatum, Kamadaka, Tarong-Tarong, Dabutung, Dagutung, Talong-Gubat, Talong-Talong, Tarambola, Tarambulo
Portuguese: Tomateiro-bravo
Sinhala: Mala batu
Sri Lanka : Mala-Butu
Sudanese: Karundang
Tagalog: Tarong tarong
Thailand : Mauek, Yang-Khui-Dee, Ma-Khuea-Puu, Ma-Puu
Unidentified: Basula, Dabutung, Latteoeng, Tarong ayam
Vietnamese : Cà Bung, Cà Du, Cà trái-lông
Visayan: Tagatum
Plant Growth Habit Sub-erect or spreading, lignescent perennial shrub
Growing Climates Thickets, open forest, disturbed sites in rain forest or monsoon forest, near roads, humid places and wet places in ravines, valleys and forest openings
Plant Size 1–1.5 m tall
Stem Stems and branches stout, with flat, erect or slightly recurved prickles 1-8 mm
Leaf Alternate, simple, large, green, 10–20 cm long and 8–18 cm wide pinnately veined, ovate to ovate elliptic, prickly with 4-6 short, broadly triangular lobes on each side, with smaller secondary lobes
Flowering season Jun-Oct
Flower Flowers are all bisexual and regular with 4-10 merous. Calyx is broadly campanulate, 6-9 mm wide, 6-9 mm long, the tube 2.5-4.5 mm, the lobes 3-5 mm long and 2.5-5 mm
Fruit Shape & Size Small and round fruit, approximately 1-2 centimeters in diameter
Fruit Color Initially green when immature, but then ripens to a yellow or orange and is covered in a fine layer of prickly hair
Seed Seeds brown, ca. 2 mm in diam
Taste Unique sweet and sour taste
Season November-December

Plant Description

A hairy eggplant is a sub-erect or spreading, lignescent perennial shrub that normally grows about 1–1.5 m tall. The plant is found growing in thickets, open forest, disturbed sites in rain forest or monsoon forest, near roads, humid places and wet places in ravines, valleys and forest openings. The stem is hairy, thorny and woody, with upright, spreading branches, sometimes with tinged light or dark purple.

Leaves

The leaf can be characterized as alternate, simple, large, green, 10–20 cm long and 8–18 cm wide pinnately veined, ovate to ovate elliptic, prickly with 4-6 short, broadly triangular lobes on each side, with smaller secondary lobes. The plant has 5-8 cm long petiole with very fine wool like hair. Besides, the upper leaves are usually smaller, narrower, less lobed and often sub-opposite than those at bottom.

Flower

Inflorescences usually short, 0.4-0.9 cm, extra-axillary, often very close to a leaf pair, unbranched, with 6-16 flowers, the distal ones female-sterile, and the axes stellate-pubescent. The flowers are all bisexual and regular with 4-10 merous. Calyx is broadly campanulate, 6-9 mm wide, 6-9 mm long, the tube 2.5-4.5 mm, the lobes 3-5 mm long and 2.5-5 mm, deltoid or broadly ovate-apiculate, abaxially densely sericeous or occasionally felty, the stellae with delicate, elongate midpoints, rays and stalks. Corolla 2.5-3.5 cm in diameter, 7-16 mm long, stellate, thin-textured, white, the tube 5-8 mm, the lobes 6-9 mm long and  3-6 mm wide, ovate-lanceolate or lanceolate, stellate-pubescent abaxially, glabrous adaxially. Stamens with filaments ca. 0.1-0.2 mm; anthers 6-8.5 mm long and 1.5-2.2 mm at base, linear-lanceolate, attenuate, connivent, yellow, the pores minute and directed distally. Ovary is pubescent, the hairs appearing simple but with underdeveloped rays at base; style 5-10 mm long and 0.25-0.6 mm wide, cylindrical, glabrous; stigma capitate. Flowering normally takes place in between June and October.

Fruit

Fertile flowers are followed by small and round fruit, approximately 1-2 centimeters in diameter. The tiny eggplant’s outer skin is initially green when immature, but then ripens to a yellow or orange and is covered in a fine layer of prickly hair. The inner pulp has many edible seeds and is also yellow or orange. Hairy eggplants are tangy and have a tropical, floral taste with a crunchy bite. Domesticated plants bear larger fruits and lack the prickly skin that is found in the wild plants. The color found in the center of fruit is light green, like that of Solanum quitoense. Numerous seeds are found that are 2.2-3.5 mm long and 1.75-2.5 mm wide, pale yellow, lenticular, slightly notched, broadly reniform-ovate in outline, the surfaces minutely pitted.

Traditional uses and benefits of Hairy Eggplant

  • In Malaysia, a decoction of the roots is prescribed for violent pains all over the body and discomfort after meals.
  • Root decoction is taken for syphilis.
  • Roots are used externally in a bath for fever at night, and in a poultice for itches, cuts, wounds, and severe bruises.
  • Seeds are used for treating toothache by burning them and inhaling the fumes.
  • It is used as a remedy for coughs, asthma, fever, vomiting, sore throat, gonorrhea and female sexual disorders in Bangladesh and Indian traditional folk medicine.
  • The Hairy eggplant is used to help stimulate the release of urine and to calm symptoms of splenic trouble in Suriname.
  • In the Philippines, the leaves of the hairy eggplant as poultices are used to help reduce swelling and body pains.
  • Leaf has been used as traditional medicine to treat against allergy, body ache and swelling, skin injuries, and headache.
  • It is used by locals as Chinese herbal medicine for effective curing of cough, bruises, hernia, sore throat, and tooth decay, edema as well as having anesthetic effect.
  • It has been used by the Tonchongya tribal community of Roangchaari Upazila of Bandarban district, Bangladesh to treat toothache and syphilis disease.

Culinary Uses

  • The edible fruits are harvested from the wild or from cultivation.
  • In India and Southeast Asia, the fruit is widely used as a sour-relish in curries and sauces such as nam prek in Thailand.
  • Hairy eggplant is often used as a finishing condiment and paired with nam prik kapi, which is a Thai chili sauce made with shrimp paste and lime.

Other Facts

  • It is used in traditional folk medicine in Asia.
  • Fruit was reported to be used in black magic in Malaysia.
  • Bunch of terong asam fruits and Dracaena in a net is placed on an expectant mother’s head and under the floor to prevent the approach of evil spirits.
  • Seeds yield yellow colored oil, containing palmitic acid, stearic acid, oleic acid and linoleic acid.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=821758#null

https://npgsweb.ars-grin.gov/gringlobal/taxon/taxonomydetail?id=416240

https://gd.eppo.int/taxon/SOLFE

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solanum_lasiocarpum

http://www.theplantlist.org/tpl1.1/record/tro-29600277

 

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