Eggplant

Solanum melongena

Aubergine, Brinjal, Eiervrug (Afr.)

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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!

Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Summer

Fruiting time

Summer, Autumn

Harvesting

Harvest starts about 3 months after planting. Cut the fruit off the plant, do not twist or pull. Fruits should feel full and heavy.

Propagation

Seed

Best sown in spring and summer. Sow between 6-8 mm deep, germination should occur in 7-14 days.

Special features

Attracts bees

Attractive flowers

Special features

Origin

Southeast Asia.

Natural climate

Warm tropical to temperate.

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Loam, Sand, Chalk, Compost, Clay

Soil PH preference

Acid, Neutral

Frost hardiness

Tender

Uses

Edible

Lovely roasted with other vegetables or used in saucy dishes. The whole Aubergine will keep up to 1 week, but it is best not to refrigerate. Can be frozen or dried.

Personality

Family

Solanaceae

Flower colour

Purple, White, Yellow

Scent

None