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SOLANUM atropurpureum

Image of Solanum atropurpureum

Jesse Saylor

Family

Solanaceae

Botanical Name

SOLANUM atropurpureum

Plant Common Name

Purple Devil

General Description

This is a funky looking devil of a plant that people either love or hate. The South American purple devil is a tender perennial in the tomato family that grows as a weed in its native habitat. It has coarse, dark green foliage and stems lined with deep purple spines. Toxic orange fruits are produced in summer. Garden grown specimens are generally raised as tender perennials but in frost-free zones this tropical plant becomes large and shrubby.

Purple devil has showy, deeply lobed leaves and huge, flexible purple spines along the stems that look vicious but are only moderately prickly when touched. When temperatures are hot, it produces clusters of small, tomato-like flowers followed by green, berry-like fruits that turn from green to yellow-orange. The somewhat showy fruits are toxic to ingest and can also irritate the skin.

Grow this unusual ornamental as you would a tomato, offering it full to partial sun, well-drained soil of average fertility and moderate water. Warm temperatures are a must. In fact, purple devil thrives in hot weather. Fruits should be handled with gloves and plants should not be grown in areas where young children might take interest in them. This is a striking tropical for containers as well as mixed summer borders. It looks most attractive when planted with red- and orange-flowered annuals. In frost-free or tropical zones it is fully evergreen and will survive as a perennial. Plants may self-sow.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    12 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    10 - 12

  • Plant Type

    Tender Perennial

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun

  • Height

    3'-7' / 0.9m - 2.1m

  • Bloom Time

    Indeterminate

  • Native To

    South America

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam, Sand

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Clump-Forming

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Insignificant

  • Flower Color

    Yellow, Green, Orange

  • Fruit Color

    Yellow, Orange

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Purple, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Purple, Dark Green

  • Fragrant Flowers

    No

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    Yes

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    Yes

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    Yes

  • Showy Fruit

    Yes

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Usage

    Container, Mixed Border, Tropical

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    Yes

  • Invasive

    Sometimes

  • Attracts

    Birds

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes