Solanaceae  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Solanaceae is a family of flowering plants that contains a number of important agricultural plants as well as many toxic plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum "the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear. Most likely, the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun and its rays, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum) is known as the sunberry. Alternatively, it has been suggested the name originates from the Latin verb solari, meaning "to soothe". This presumably refers to alleged soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species of the family.

The family is also informally known as the nightshade- or potato family. The family includes Datura (Jimson weed), mandrake, deadly nightshade (belladonna), capsicum (paprika, chili pepper), potato, tobacco, tomato, eggplant and petunia.

The Solanaceae family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloids whose toxicity to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Solanaceae" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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