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Solanum morelliforme

Description

Solanum morelliforme distribution in North America Map note

Solanum morelliforme (morelliforme, meaning similar in form to S. nigrum, which was once known as black morel) is a contender for the most unusual wild potato, as it is an epiphyte, typically growing on or near oak and pine trees.  This is a widespread species in central Mexico and extends south into Honduras.  Plants grow from about 3 to 18 inches tall.  The berries are very small – about 1/4 to 1/3 of an inch in diameter and contain only 5 to 15 seeds, much less than most potato species.

A disjuct (geographically separated) population of S. morelliforme was discovered in Bolivia in 2010 (Simon 2011).  This is very surprising considering that there is a 2500 mile gap between the North and South American populations.  No other wild potato species has a natural distribution on both continents.

This species can survive frosts down to 26 degrees F (-3.5 C) (Li 1977).  Vega (1995) found that this species is less frost tolerant than domesticated potato and was among the least tolerant of the wild potato species.

Resistances

Condition Level of Resistance Source
Frost Somewhat Resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
Leptinotarsa decemlineata (Colorado Potato Beetle) Somewhat Resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
Phytophthora infestans (Late Blight) Somewhat Resistant Machida-Hirano 2015

Glykoalkaloid content

No information is available about glycoalkaloid content, but it is typically low in diploid North American species.  I tasted one small tuber and detected no bitterness.

Images

Plant of the wild potato species Solanum morelliforme
Solanum morelliforme plant
Inflorescence of the wild potato species Solanum morelliforme
Solanum morelliforme inflorescence
Flower of the wild potato species Solanum morelliforme
Solanum morelliforme flower
 
       
       

Cultivation

Bamberg (2018) found that germination of at least some accessions of this species is inhibited by alternating temperatures.  I reproduced that quite successfully, as we got zero germination from seeds sown under our standard 65 F day / 50 F night temperature alternation.  I tried again at constant temperature and got a little germination, but still not as much as expected.

I have found plants quite difficult to keep alive outdoors.

Breeding

Crosses with S. tuberosum

Female Male Berry Set Seed Set Germination Ploidy Source
             

Crosses with other species

Watanabe (1991) found that 8.1% of varieties of this species produced 2n pollen, which would be effectively tetraploid and probably 2EBN.

Female Male Berry Set Seed Set Germination Ploidy Source
             

References

Solanum morelliforme at Solanaceae Source

Solanum morelliforme at GRIN Taxonomy