There are numerous species of plants that are poisonous and can be deadly to humans and animals. Some plants are major sources of medicine and some are simply bizarre in appearance. Among the most recognized poisonous and bizarre fruits is the Solanum mammosum.
This unusual plant has a fruit that upon first glance looks like a balloon inflated to appear like the udder of a cow. It is actually an ornamental fruit that has medicinal properties as well as detergent agents that can be used for washing clothes. The plant is grown for ornamental purposes, in part because of the distal end of the fruits resembling to a human breast, while the proximal end looks like a cow’s udder. Before soap was common in villages, the juice was used as a detergent to wash clothes.
It is imported to Taiwan and Hong Kong as decorative foliage for use in religious and festival floral arrangements. They are commonly used in building Chinese New Year trees due to their auspicious golden colored fruit. It represents prosperity in the form of large families.
Solanum mammosum is commonly known as Nipple Fruit, Cow’s Udder and “Apple of Sodom” (shares this charming name with another fruit found in the Middle East). It is an annual to perennial plant in the Solanaceae family, part of the Solanum or nightshade genus, and a relative of the tomato and potatoes. It can grow up to 1.5 m in height and branches with stems dotted with firm thorns. This poisonous fruit is native to South America, but has been naturalized in Central America, Greater antilles and Caribbean.
The pink-purple flowers develop during spring and are followed by the waxy, yellow colored fruit ripening a few months later. Fruits are fleshy, poisonous, and contain several seeds. Briefly, the globosely fruit form is undoubtedly the primitive condition and is nearly confined to the Llanos of Venezuela and adjacent areas where the species seems well-adapted to the seasonally dry grassland climate.
It’s amazing isn’t? This fruit is used for Ikebana arrangements.