The Nightshade Family
I knew that tomatoes, tomatillos, peppers, potatoes, and eggplants were all related (because apparently eating them causes inflammation), and I was so excited to draw those all together that I dug a little deeper to find out which other plants were members of the nightshade family. Did you know that Tobacco and Petunia are included in this group? Fascinating!
When the plants began to bloom in the late spring, I started my next plant family portrait – Nightshades. As the heat of summer rolled in, I kept adding to this painting as the plants ripened and developed their varied and luscious fruits.
Fun Fact: The potato is not a fruit but a tuber, part of the plant’s root system. A shout out to Tributary Farm for the majority of these wonderful vegetables.
Plants in the Nightshade Family share these traits:
5 united sepals
5 united petals
Alternately arranged on stem
Usually feature plant hairs and are sometimes armed with prickles
Ovary with 2 chambers
Other than those shared traits, the nightshade family plants are free to be their unique (and delicious!) selves. I included as many species and life cycle stages as I could fit on the page to best illustrate where their similarities begin and end.
Plants depicted in this Plant Family Portrait:
Angel’s Trumpet (Brugmansia arborea)
Pepper (Capsicum annuum)
Thorn Apple – Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium)
Tobacco (Nicotiana alata)
Hopi Tobacco (Nicotiana rustica)
Petunia – Alderman Blue (Petunia nana compacta)
Tomatillo (Physalis philadelphica)
Dwarf Tamarillo (Solanum abutiloides)
Horsenettle (Solanum carolinense)
Tomato (Solanum lycopersicum)
Eggplant (Solanum melongena)
Potato (Solanum tuberosum)
My goal with this series of Plant Family Portraits is to deepen people’s awareness of plants and gain an understanding of plant details to help combat “Plant Blindness.” An appreciation for biodiversity is an important part of our wellbeing. May we all delight in nature’s fascinating architecture and colors, appreciate our environment, and how precious it is to protect.
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