Potato

Solanum tuberosum L.

Family: Solanaceae.

Names:

Solanum comes from the Latin solamen meaning to quieten or comfort and refers to the narcotic properties of some species.
Tuberosum refers to the tubers that develop on the underground portion of the stem.
Potato.

Summary:

A weak stemmed plant with compound leaves with 5-9 variable main leaflets, white mauve or purple, 5 petalled, shortly tubular flowers producing green or purplish globular berries. It has large, edible, underground tubers.

Description:

See the Weedy Solanum Key.

Cotyledons:

Two.

Leaves:

Stipules - False stipule at the base about 20 mm long and almost crescent shaped.
Petiole - Up to 100 mm long.
Blade - About 400 mm long. 5-9 variable main leaflets with a single leaflet at the end of the leaf. Leaflets usually stalked. Hairy or hairless. Smooth edges. Small, variable sized leaflets between main leaflets. Main leaflets 120-150 mm long x 70-80 mm wide, broadly egg-shaped to oval, often notched at the base, tip blunt, tapering or sometimes pointed.

Stems:

Up to 1000 mm tall. Many branched. Sometimes with wings. Wild types often have purplish stems.

Flower head:

Loose cyme with 3-15 flowers.

Flowers:

On long slender stalks often more than 120 mm long. Stalks sharply bent down when in fruit.
Ovary -
Calyx - 6-10 mm long. Hairy. 5 spear shaped lobes that are longer than the tube.
Corolla - 20-40 mm diameter. White to mauve or purple. Short tube with 5 triangular lobes, bent back, with wavy edges that are hairy on the outside and near the edges.
Stamens - Very short filaments.
Anthers - Yellow or orange, 6-9 mm long, longer than the filaments, parallel sided, converging at the tips, protruding from the flower, opening at the top by 2 pores.

Fruit:

Globular berry, 10-40 mm diameter, green or purplish, no stone cells.

Fruit:

Soft, juicy berry.

Seeds:

Flattened, 2 mm long, egg-shaped to oval.

Roots:

Rhizomes bearing large terminal tubers.

Key Characters:

White to mauve or purple flowers with a short tube and 5 triangular lobes.
Fruit a globular berry.
Large tubers.

Biology:

Life cycle:

Perennial.

Physiology:

Reproduction:

By seed and vegetatively from tubers or tuber fragments.

Flowering times:

Seed Biology and Germination:

Vegetative Propagules:

Tubers.

Hybrids:

Allelopathy:

Population Dynamics and Dispersal:

Mainly spread by intentional planting.

Origin and History:

Andes Mountains in South America. Chile. Peru.

Distribution:

ACT, NSW, NT, QLD, SA, TAS, VIC, WA.

Courtesy Australia's Virtual Herbarium.

Habitats:

Climate:

Temperate. Mediterranean.

Soil:

Freely draining, loose or sandy soils.

Plant Associations:

Significance:

Beneficial:

Food crop.

Detrimental:

Weed of following crops, camp-sites, beaches and disturbed areas.

Toxicity:

Green parts and green tubers that have been exposed to light are toxic to humans and stock. The shoots and green skins are more toxic and the berries are very toxic. The toxic principle is an alkaloid called solanine. Cooking reduces the toxicity. Feeding sprouts should always be considered dangerous.
Sprouts of some varieties may cause birth defects.

Symptoms:

Alkaloid poisoning.
Severe chronic anaemia may develop after long term feeding of tubers.

Treatment:

Don't allow stock access to green potato haulms or green or sprouted tubers.
Alkaloid poisoning.

Legislation:

None.

Management and Control:

Thresholds:

Eradication strategies:

Repeated cultivation before new tubers are formed is effective.
Lontrel provides good control in some crops.

Herbicide resistance:

Biological Control:

Related plants:

See the Weedy Solanum Key.
Afghan Thistle (Solanum hoplopetalum)
Apple-of-Sodom (Solanum hermannii or Solanum linnaeanum)
Bittersweet (Solanum dulcamara)
Blackberry Nightshade (Solanum nigrum)
Brazilian Nightshade (Solanum seaforthianum)
Buffalo Burr (Solanum rostratum)
Desert Nightshade (Solanum oligacanthum)
Devils Apple (Solanum capsicoides)
Devils Fig (Solanum torvum)
Devils Needles (Solanum stelligerum)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Flannel bush (Solanum lasiophyllum)
Giant Devils Fig (Solanum hispidum)
Glossy Nightshade (Solanum americanum)
Goosefoot Potato bush (Solanum chenopodinum)
Green-berry Nightshade (Solanum opacum)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum laciniatum)
Kangaroo Apple (Solanum vescum)
Madeira Winter Cherry (Solanum pseudocapsicum)
Menindee Nightshade (Solanum karense)
Narrawa Burr (Solanum cinereum)
Oondooroo (Solanum simile)
Porcupine Solanum (Solanum hystrix)
Potato bush (Solanum ellipticum)
Potato climber (Solanum jasminoides)
Potato tree (Solanum erianthum)
Quena (Solanum esuriale)
Rock Nightshade (Solanum petrophilum)
Silver-leaved Nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium)
Thargomindah Nightshade (Solanum sturtianum)
Three flowered Nightshade (Solanum triflorum)
Tomato bush (Solanum quadriloculatum)
Western Nightshade (Solanum coactiliferum)
White-edged Nightshade (Solanum marginatum)
Wild Tobacco tree (Solanum mauritianum)
Woolly Nightshade (Solanum villosum)
Solanum arbutiloides
Solanum centrale
Solanum chippendalei
Solanum dimidiatum
Solanum dioicum
Solanum oldfieldii
Solanum orbiculatum
Solanum papaverifolium
Solanum sisymbriifolium

Plants of similar appearance:

References:

Blamey and Grey-Wilson (1989) p 350

Webb et al (1988) p 12511

Everist, S.L. (1974). Poisonous Plants of Australia. (Angus and Robertson, Sydney). P678-679.

Lamp, C. and Collet, F. (1990). A Field Guide to Weeds in Australia. (Inkata Press, Melbourne).

Lazarides, M. and Hince, B. (1993). CSIRO handbook of economic plants of Australia. (CSIRO, Melbourne). #1140.47.

Acknowledgments:

Collated by HerbiGuide. Phone 08 98444064 or www.herbiguide.com.au for more information.