Cow's Udder ( Solanum mammosum)
Cow's Udder - Solanum mammosum
Solanum mammosum is commonly known as Nipplefruit, Titty Fruit, Cow's Udder, or, ambiguously, "Apple of Sodom". It is an annual to perennial plant in the Solanaceae family, part of the Solanum or nightshade genus, and a relative of the tomato and potato.
This unusual plant has a fruit that upon first glance looks like a balloon inflated to appear like the udder of a cow. This poisonous fruit is native to South America, but has been naturalized in the Greater Antilles, Central America and Caribbean.
Small shrubby perennial that can be grown as an annual.Large velvety leaves have purple veins and furry hair, along with prominent spikes. The branches and stems are also dotted with firm thorns. Bushy shrub to 3-6ft. The pink-purple flowers develop during spring and are followed by the waxy, yellow colored fruit ripening a few months later. Fruits are fleshy, poisonous, and contain
numerous brownish-red seeds in them.
The plant is grown for ornamental purposes, in part because of the distal end of the fruit's resemblance to a human breast, while the proximal end looks like a cow's udder. The plant also has a few medicinal properties. It is reputed to have medicinal use in various treatments, from athlete's foot to irritability and restlessness, and is sometimes used as a detergent.The juice of the fruit shows some detergent activity and can be used for washing clothing. Before soap was common in villages of South and Central
America, the juice was used as a detergent to wash clothes. Farmers in Central America have experiemented with it as an alternative insecticide, especially for leaf cutter
ants. It is imported to Taiwan and Hong Kong as decorative foliage for use in religious and festival floral arrangements. They are commonly used in building Chinese New Year trees due to their auspicious golden coloured fruit.
All parts of the plant are poisonous. However, it is regarded as a very auspicious plant for the Lunar New Year season. The secret is in the fruits that are pear shaped and has 5 protrusions. These protrusions look like teats or nipples but we like to call it 'fingers' which in Cantonese sounds like 'ji', meaning sons.
In Chinese culture it is known as five fingered eggplant. In Japan it is known as Fox Face.
Fruiting branches can be used in tropical cut flower arrangements
and for Ikebana arrangements.