Solanum melongena is a branching shrub species that typically grows to around 2m high. It produces a long taproot which extends deep underground, anchoring the plant and enabling it to source water from low down below the soil. Leaves are arranged alternately on stems and foliage is densely hairy and sometimes prickly. Flowers are usually produced individually rather than in clusters, these are star-shaped, with wide, spreading petals. They measure 3-4cm wide and are coloured purple, occasionally white, with prominent, stocky yellow stamens in the centre. Aubergine is a fruit in the tomato family, Solanaceae and much like tomatoes, aubergine is a commonly used vegetable in cooking. It is used heavily in vegetarian cuisine as it has a fairly bland flavour and so can be combined with a multitude of flavours. It is also called eggplant because the fruits look egg-shaped when young. There are many different cultivars, showing a range of size and fruit colours. There is even a white aubergine!