Family: Solanaceae
Synonym: Solanum adulterinum, Solanum verbascifolium 
Common name: Big Eggplant, Mullein Nightshade, China flowerleaf, Potato tree, Wild Tobacco tree
Local name: Rada (रडा ), Trikhada, Akra, Ban Tamakhu

Rada is 3- 6m tall, shrub of Western Himalayas bearing  dense, stellate tomentum covering on flowers. That’s might be the reason that species name erianthum is given to this plant.  The specific epithet, erianthum, is derived from the Greek words ἔριον (erion), meaning “woolly”, and ἄνθος (anthos), meaning “flower,” referring to the dense trichomes (hairs) on the flowers 1. It bears greenish-white flowers in cymes and globose berries in groups.

Although, Rada can bear flowers and fruits round the year, but maximum flowering and fruiting is seen from July to October.

 Although Rada can   grows in partial shade but its best growth is seen in well drained sunny habitat. It is commonly seen growing on waysides, riverbanks field edges, on waste ground and forest edges up to 1500m. 

Rada is prorogated both by seeds and stem cuttings. Like most of its family members Rada alsohave been extensively used for pharmaceutical purposes. There are references of its culinary uses and food value too 1,2,3,4,5, but local people in Western Himalayas hardly use this plant for  any edible purposes.  Main cause behind this is fruits are extremely bitter in taste owing to presence of steroid saponin and free genins. Its leaves and fruits also yield solasonine. However, with maturity saponin content of fruits get reduced and is comparatively lower than immature one.  Alkaloids account for around 0.4% of the mass of dry berries and leaves 1. The solasodine content in fruits from Indian samples was 0.01 – 0.70% 1.  Steroidal alkaloids found in the plant are used by the pharmaceutical industry as precursors for the manufacture of synthetic steroids 1. Due to bitterness in fruits Rada is considered poisonous by common people. Saponin, however, in small quantity is considered beneficial to our body and helpful to remove toxicity of digestive tract. Cooking and addition of some acidulant to vegetable or vegetable curries dilute the bitter taste of fruits berries to a significant amount. So, mature fruits of Rada can be eaten cooked as vegetable curry in small quantity.

As Rada can grow well in riverbanks, roadside edges, waste ground and forest edges, so it is beneficial in reclamation of degraded land. It can also be grown as ornamental  and sometimes also cultivated for extraction of steroidal saponins for pharmaceutical companies 1,9. Quite often this plant may become a noxious weed so, its introduction to new areas should be discouraged. As Rada is a  hosts of diseases and pests that attack economically important Solanaceae1,so its presence near the cultivated land protect  loss from diseases and pests.

 Rada is harvested from wild habitat as a source of fuel and medicinal.

Rada Plant:  

It is erect, densely, stellate-tomentose, unarmed shrubs, 3-6m tall.

Leaves broadly lanceolate, 12-25 * 7-13cm, entire, acuminate; petioles 2-5cm long.

Flowers white 12-18 mm across, in woolly, dichotomous, corymbose cymes. Calyx densely tomentose; teeth broad, acute. Corolla stellately hairy outside; lobes ovate-lanceolate.

Berries globose, ca 1 cm across, yellow when ripe.

Fruits can be harvested from July to September, while leaves can be collected round the year. To ensure sustainable harvesting fruits need to be collected round the year.

Edible Uses:

Although Rada fruits are bitter in taste, but mature fruits can be cooked and eaten as vegetable curries for their rich food and medicinal values, Leaves can also be taken as herbal tea with some sweetener and souring agent (Lemon or amla powder)

Vegetable from Rada fruits is highly unpalatable, only for medicinal purposes it is recommended.



Rada mature fruits, 250 g; chopped medium sized potato raw/boiled,3-4; mustard oil, 3-4 table spoons; coriander powder, 1 table spoon; fenugreek powder, 1/2 table spoon; cumin seed , 1 tea spoon.; turmeric powder, 1 table spoon; red chillies, 2-3; medium sized chopped onion, 1-garlic cloves, 4-5; ginger paste, 1 table spoon; ; chopped tomato.2-3; curd, 1/2 kg;  garam masala, 1 table spoon; chopped coriander leaves, ½ cup; and salt according to taste.


For preparing vegetable, heat mustered oil in a pan and saute chopped fruits and potato with spices listed above in a sequence. Cook till they are soft then add curd to it cook for another 5-10 minutes, garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.



Rada leaves, 2-3; water, 2 cup amount; sugar, 2 table spoons; lemon juice, 2 tea spoons.


Dice leaves and boil with water. Add sugar to it and simmer in low flame for 10 minutes. Strain into tea cups. Add lemon juice to each and serve hot.

Food Value:

Crude fibre (9.56%) carbohydrate (33.00%), crude protein (13.55%), ash (19.23%) and crude fat (2.79%) for Rada. Similarly, the leaves recorded high values of: potassium (124.77±0.83; mg/100g), magnesium (77.24±0.24; mg/100g), iron (13.11±0.26; mg/100g) respectively. Vitamins A, B (1, 2, 3, 6 &12), C & E were detected. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) had the highest concentration (232.75±1.25 mg/L) and B2 (riboflavin) the lowest (0.037±0.00 mg/L). Plant is also rich in polyphenols and alkaloids 4,5.

Seek professional advice before treating this plant medicinally.

Medicinal Uses:

Locally Rada leaves are used in poultices for stomach-ache and healing wounds Leaves are also used against body pain, burns, inflammation, urinary troubles, vaginal discharges, vertigo and expelling worms. Given to horse affected with glanders. They are considered a potent medicine for expelling all impurities through the urine, and in particular to treat leucorrhoea. Applied externally, the pounded leaves are used as a poultice to treat haemorrhoids and scrofula. Heated leaves are applied as a cream to the forehead as a treatment against headache. The leaf juice is used as a rinse for sores in the mouth. A decoction from the roots is applied to treat violent pains all over the body or to relieve digestive troubles; it is also given to treat dysentery, diarrhoea and fever. The root bark is poisonous and can be used as an antichloristic and against arthritis. A flavonoid-rich extract of the Rada leaves possesses antibacterial and antifungal activity against gram-positive bacteria and the fungi Aspergillus flavus and Candida albican. Steroidal alkaloids from this are useful in industry as steroid precursors. Solasodine is a nitrogen-containing analogue of diosgenin, a compound often used as raw material for the production of medicinal steroids. The synthetic steroids have three main applications in medicine: as anti-inflammatory corticosteroids, as contraceptive steroids and as anabolic steroid.

In West Africa a leaf decoction of Rada  is taken for its diuretic and purgative properties to cure malaria, leprosy and venereal diseases and it is also taken to stimulate the liver functions. In Manipur, decoction of roots is used for bosy pain, vertigo and urinary problems. Leaves are given in vaginal discharges. They are also given to horses affected by ganders 6,7,8,9,10,11.

Other Uses:

Locally plant branches are used to burn ticks and mites of domestic animals during ‘Chidnayala’ (where  ticks and mites of livestock and domestic animals are burned, however this practice is at the verge of extinction )  festivalPlant can be grown as ornamental 9, The velvety leaves are used to remove grease from dishes3.


1.     Modise, D.M. & Mogotsi, K.K., 2008. Solanum erianthum D.Don. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). PROTA (Plant Resources of Tropical Africa / Ressources végétales de l’Afrique tropicale), Wageningen, Netherlands.



4.     Uzoekwe, N. M., Ukhun, M. E., & Ejidike, P. P. (2021). Proximate analysis, vitamins, moisture content and mineral elements determination in leaves of Solanum erianthum and Glyphaea brevis. Journal of Chemical Society of Nigeria46(1).

5.     Senizza, B., Rocchetti, G., Sinan, K. I., Zengin, G., Mahomoodally, M. F., Glamocilja, J., … & Lucini, L. (2021). The phenolic and alkaloid profiles of Solanum erianthum and Solanum torvum modulated their biological properties. Food Bioscience41, 100974.

6.     Ambasta, S.P(ed.)1986. The useful plants of India. CSIR, New Delhi.

7.     Kritikar & Basu, 1984. Indian Medicinal Plants. Vol.1-4. Lalit Mohan Basu , Allahabad.

8.     Schmelzer, G.H.; A. Gurib-Fakim (2008). Medicinal Plants. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa. pp. 522–524. ISBN 978-90-5782-204-9.

9.     Everitt, J.H., 1977. Native potato tree (Solanum erianthum D.Don) grown as an ornamental. Journal of the Rio Grande Valley Horticultural Society 31: 145–146.

10.  Blomqvist, M.M. & Nguyen Tien Ban, 1999. Solanum L. In: de Padua, L.S., Bunyapraphatsara, N. & Lemmens, R.H.M.J. (Editors). Plant Resources of South-East Asia No 12(1). Medicinal and poisonous plants 1. Backhuys Publishers, Leiden, Netherlands. pp. 453–460.


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