The glossy red berries of the Solanum giganteum provide satisfaction for birds during the winter months when conditions can be harsh.

In our garden, Cape White-eyes forage for the berries rapidly, often hanging upside down to gain better access to the fruit, flitting from branch to branch, often partially obscured by branches and foliage. I found satisfaction in taking this photo, despite the difficult light, of a White-eye satisfying its hunger feasting one winter’s morning in our garden. The berries are also favoured by the Dark-capped Bulbul.

The Solanum giganteum is widely distributed across much of Africa south of the Sahara, and also occurs naturally in parts of southern India and Sri Lanka. Unlike other plants in the Solanum family (which includes potatoes, tomatoes and deadly nightshade) no part of the plant has been found to be poisonous.

One of its many common names is Healing–leaf Tree. The woolly under side of the leaf is used in traditional medicine for cleaning wounds, and the smooth upper side for healing wounds. Juice from the berries and the leaves is also used in healing ointments. In some parts of southern Africa the berries are used to treat throat ulcers. The plant also provides ingredients in Ayurvedic medicine. In addition, the fruit is used to curdle milk.

The plant is deciduous and can grow to a height of 2 to 5 metres. The branches are spiny and its late-summer-to-early-autumn flowers are pale purple. The Solanum giganteum is not to be confused with the yellow-berried South American Solanum mauritianum, known as the Bugweed in South Africa where it is highly invasive.

Also bringing me satisfaction is knowing that this small tree bears crimson-berried cheer and fruitfulness from Ethiopia and Cameroon down to the Cape, as well as in India and Sri Lanka on the other side of the ocean.

This is my response to the Weekly Photo Challenge with the theme ‘Satisfaction’. Images from other bloggers on this theme can be found here

Source: PlantZAfrica. Solanum giganteum. (SANBI: Biodiversity for life).

Posted by Carol