The eggplant, aubergine, or brinjal (Solanum melongena), is a plant of the nightshade family, but don’t worry it isn’t deadly! It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used as a vegetable in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to India and Sri Lanka.
The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, less than 3 cm in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.
The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but are bitter because they contain (an insignificant amount of) nicotinoid alkaloids, unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.
I am growing two varieties of Eggplant (Black Beauty and Ichibahn)
The Ichiban or Japanese variety of eggplant differs from the regular eggplant only in its size and shape. Regular eggplants are, after all, egg shaped. Ichiban eggplants are long and slender. At maturity, these eggplants are between 10 inches and one foot long, depending upon the variety. Eggplants, though delicate, are moderately easy to grow.
The ‘Black Beauty’ Eggplant plant has been a dependable producer for decades. It yields up to 15 fruits per plant. The egg-shaped fruits range from 4 to 6 inches and may weigh up to 3 lbs., but they are best harvested when smaller.
In the next post, I will give you tips on growing and preparing them!