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Solanum commersonii

Common Name(s)Commerson potato, Commerson’s nightshade 
Above ground plant of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii plant
Codecmm
SynonymsS. henryi, S. mechonguense, S. nicaraguense, S. ohrondii
Clade?
SeriesCommersoniana
PloidyDiploid (2x), Triploid (3x)
EBN1
Tuberization PhotoperiodDay neutral
Self-compatibleNo (Whalen 1981)
Genotype
Unknown
Cytoplasm Type 
Citation
Dunal: Encycl. suppl. 3:746. 1814

Description

Solanum commersonii distribution map
Solanum commersonii distribution map

Solanum commersonii (commersonii, in honor of French naturalist Philibert Commerson, who collected the type specimen) is a species of Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, and Brazil.  Plants are low growing and often rosette like, with what I would describe as a “weedy” appearance.  Flowers are small, stellate, white to purple, but usually more colorful on the back than the front.  Berries are long and tapering.

There are reports of this species being cultivated as an edible in France in the early twentieth century, where it produced “abundant, large, and palatable” tubers (Newman 1904).  Reddick (1939) reported tubers of large, commercial size in an early evaluation of this species.

S. commersonii is one of the few wild potato species for which the genome has been sequenced (Aversano 2015).  Sequencing revealed that this species is dramatically less heterozygous than the domesticated potato (1.5% vs 53-59%).  There are a number of possible reasons for this, including that the accession that was sequenced has been maintained in isolation and that the domesticated potato may have an unusual high level of heterozygosity as the result of modern breeding.

Resistances

This species can survive frosts down to 23 degrees F (-5 C) (Li 1977).  Vega (1995) found that this species is more frost tolerant than domesticated potato and nearly as tolerant as S. acaule.  Genomic analysis revealed that this species upregulates production of galactinol sythase, which has been associated in other speices with the production of raffinose oligosaccharides that can protect against osmotic stress (for example, stresses caused by frost exposure) (Aversano 2015).

ConditionTypeLevel of ResistanceSource
Colorado Potato BeetleInvertebrateSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
FrostAbioticResistantMachida-Hirano 2015
Late BlightFungusSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
Potato Virus XVirus  
Root Knot NematodeInvertebrateSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
ScabBacteriumSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
ScabBacteriumImmuneReddick 1939
Soft Rot / BlacklegBacteriumSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
Tobacco Etch VirusVirus  
WartFungusSomewhat resistantMachida-Hirano 2015
Verticilium WiltFungus  

Glykoalkaloid content

Carputo (2003) found a value of 48.1 mg / 100g for this species, a level more than double the safety limit, with three glycoalkaloids: dehydrodemissine, dehydrotomatine, and dehydrocommersine.

I have tasted a random sampling of tubers from seed grown plants of these species and found them all palatable.  That could be good luck, or perhaps some of the glycoalkaloids in this species are not as bitter as the more common solanine and chaconine.

Images

Above ground plant of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii plant
Above ground plant of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii plant
Above ground plant of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii plant
 
Commerson Potato Magazine Clipping
Commerson Potato Magazine Clipping
Above ground plant of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii plant
 
Flower of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii flower
 
Inflorescence of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii inflorescence
Flower of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii flower
Back of the flower of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii flower back
Back of the flower of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii flower back
Berries of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii berries
Berries of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii berries
Berries of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii berries
Berries of the wild potato species Solanum commersonii
Solanum commersonii berries

Cultivation

Chen (1976) found that this species reaches its maximum frost resistance (about 11 degrees F, -11.7 C) following a three week period of shortening photoperiod and reducing day and night temperatures.

Bamberg (1995) found that at least some accessions of S. commersonii flower better at high temperatures than under typical temperate growing conditions.  Flowering was better when greenhouse temperatures exceeded 100 degrees F for several hours during the day.

I have noticed that berries of this species are easily dislodged, even before they are mature.  My normal practice is to give a little shake to each inflorescence and harvest any berries that fall off; with this species, even young berries tend to drop.  It might be a good idea to tie up or otherwise support inflorescences and to shelter the plants from strong wind for greater yield.

Breeding

Watanabe (1991) found that 4.8% of varieties of this species produced 2n pollen and Jackson (1999) found 1-10%, which would be effectively tetraploid and 2EBN.

Crosses with S. tuberosum

FemaleMaleBerry Set
Seed SetGermPloidySource
S. commersoniiS. tuberosumNoneNone  Jackson 1999
S. tuberosumS. commersoniiMinimalNone  Jackson 1999

Crosses with other species

FemaleMaleBerry Set
Seed SetGermPloidySource
S. commersonii 3xS. demissumYesYesYes Reddick 1939
S. commersonii
S. jamesii
YesYes  Reddick 1939

References

Solanum commersonii at Solanaceae Source

Solanum commersonii at GRIN Taxonomy

Solanum commersonii at CIP

 

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