Poroporo

2016-11-22-13-39-04Poroporo (Solanum laciniatum) is a native shrub, and one of our few native plants typically classified as a weed. A few years ago, I noticed a tiny poroporo seedling sprouting under our oak trees—planted, no doubt by some bird roosting (and poohing) in the branches above.

At the time, the chickens were quartered under the trees, so I fenced it with a ring of chicken wire to keep it safe from their scratching.

It has now grown into a huge sprawling bush easily three metres in diameter and as tall as me. It is currently covered in gorgeous purple blooms. Later in the summer, it will drip with teardrop shaped yellow fruits. Weed or not, the plant is eye candy.

Eye candy only—not to be taken internally. Like many of the Solanums, poroporo is poisonous (though apparently the fully ripe fruit is edible…sort of). Fever, sweating, nausea, and abdominal pain are the unfortunate effects of poroporo poisoning.

In spite of its poisonous nature (well, actually because of it), poroporo is grown commercially as a source of steroidal alkaloids used medicinally to make cortico-steroid drugs like birth control and eczema treatments.

A pretty and useful weed!