Friday, 17 September 2010

Meet the Potato Family

  • The potato familySolanaceae, is a family of flowering plants that contains a number of important agricultural crops as well as many toxic plants. 
  • The formal 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 potato or nightshade family
  • The family is characteristically ethnobotanical, that is, extensively utilized by humans. 
  • It is an important source of food, spice and medicine. 
  • Although an important source of food, the potato family are often rich in alkaloids whose toxicity to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities.
  • The potato family share one other unfortunate characteristic and that is the vulnerability to potato blight (Phytophthora infestans).

Links to Potato Family

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