Writing Research | Thorn Apple, Love Apple

I’ve decided to start posting some of my haphazard or in-depth research here. I doubt it’ll be anything elaborate, just ideas and fascinating (scientific) facts. I hope people will find it interesting or perhaps be inspired with ideas of their own. 🙂

Original post on tumblr

Apparently tomatoes, potatoes, and nightshade all come from the same genus Solanum. [List of species]. And I’ve learned that referring to tomatoes and other species in the genus as apples is moderately common.

For example there is the Solanum linnaenum, also called “The Devil’s Apple” or “Apple of Sodom” and seems to have originated in South Africa. It’s also become an invasive species in Australia and other regions of the Pacific. xx

There’s also Solanum icanum, which is found not only in South Africa (overlapping with Solanum linnaenum) but from the Middle East to India. It’s also called “Thorn Apple” or “Bitter Apple”. x

image of Solanum incanum | I really like your location and looks. Let's write a story together!

image of Solanum incanum | I really like your location and looks. Let’s write a story together!

For an engaging and (I feel) fairly informed history of the name “love apple”, I recommend “Why is a tomato called a love apple?” by Molly Edmonds.

And according to dictionary.com a “love apple” is:

  1. a tropical, tender plant, Solanum aculeatissimum, of the nightshade family, having prickly leaves, clusters of large, star-shaped white flowers, and red, tomato-like fruit.
  2. Archaic. the tomato.

Solanum aculeatissimum does not seem to have clear habitat origin, but a large portion of the Solanum genus is from Central America and South America, with some in Africa, a few in Asia, and other regions of the Americas and Pacific.

For example, the Solanum americanum or American nightshade or glossy nightshade is located from the Americas to Madagascar through the wide swath of Polynesia, Melanesia, and Southeast Asia. x | x | x |

image of Solanum americanum | Hi there! People confuse you with black nightshade!

image of Solanum americanum | Hi there! People confuse you with black nightshade!

So…with correlations to poison and apples, even by loose association, is anyone seeing a “Snow White” theme here?

Put the fairy tale in Central or South America. Put it in Morocco (via trade from Spain who got tomatoes from the Aztec). Put it in Malaysia since Solanum americanum is actually poisonous, I believe. Put it in the Middle East for Solanum incanum?

Or put it in a fantasy world based on the aforementioned cultures. It sounds like fun to me.

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