This page is a draft, part of our ongoing wild potato project. I’ll probably be adding information to the species pages through 2020 at least, but I’m making them public since they may be useful even incomplete.

Solanum cardiophyllum

Synonyms: S. lanciforme, S. coyoacanum


EBN: 1

Ploidy: Diploid, Triploid

Segregation: Unknown

Self-compatible: No

Cytoplasm Type: W (Hosaka 2014)


Solanum cardiophyllum is a North American species, found primarily in Mexico.  It is also present in some parts of the SW United States, but was probably introduced.  It is commonly known as the heartleaf horsenettle, heartleaf nightshade, or cimatli.  This is one of the few wild potato species that was commonly used as food.  The Aztec and the Chichimeca ate S. cardiophyllum and the practice continues in some parts of Mexico today (Johns 1990).  In fact, there was at least one farm that was growing S. cardiophyllum, S. ehrenbergii, and S. stoloniferum for market in Jalisco as recently as 2010 (Villa Vazquez 2010).

Although S. cardiophyllum has small tubers, reaching about an inch in diameter, they compensate with a rare trait in wild potatoes: palatability.  In fact, the flavor is not easily distinguishable from domesticated potatoes.  The level of glykoalkaloids in this species is very low, about 2 mg/100 g (Johns 1990).  It is lower even than most domesticated varieties.  It is something of a mystery why the native Mexicans who domesticated so many other species did not improve S. cardiophyllum.

Although crossing wild potatoes to S. tuberosum is usually the goal, I think that amateur breeders might find it rewarding to work on the improvement of S. cardiophyllum itself.  Even though the tubers are small, the species has many valuable traits and it might be possible to work on them more productively simply by breeding better varieties of S. cardiophyllum.

Condition Level of Resistance Source
Late Blight Resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Wart Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Potato Virus Y Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Colorado Potato Beetle Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Aphids Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Potato Cyst Nematode Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015
 Root Knot Nematode Somewhat resistant Machida-Hirano 2015


S. cardiophyllum is native to highland areas in Mexico.  It is adapted to somewhat warmer and drier conditions than the Andean wild potatoes.

According to Villa Vasquez (2011), where S. cardiophyllum is farmed in Mexico, it is planted in November and June in tunnels or in open fields in July.  The tubers are sown only 2.5 inches (5 cm) apart in rows about 20 inches (50 cm) apart.  The average temperature during this period is about 72 degrees (23 C) , reaching a maximum of about 90 (32 C).  This is significantly earlier than the plants grow naturally and requires irrigation.  The plants are forced to tuberize by withholding water.  Harvest is about 3.5 pounds per square yard.

The flowering period of this species is relatively short – about 4 to 6 weeks.

This species is listed as a noxious weed in California.

Crosses with S. tuberosum


Female Male Berry Set Seed Set Germination Ploidy Source
 S. tuberosum S. cardiophyllum Minimal None     Jackson (1999)
 S. cardiophyllum S. tuberosum None None     Jackson (1999)

Crosses with other species

Watanabe (1991) found that 7.8% of varieties of this species produced 2n pollen and Jackson (1999) found 1-16%, which would be effectively tetraploid and 2EBN.

Female Male Berry Set Seed Set Germination Ploidy Source

Glykoalkaloid content

According to Johns (1990), S. cardiophyllum did not contain measurable amounts of solanine or chaconine, only a small amount of a glycoalkaloid tentatively identified as demissine.  (I am not citing specific amounts, because at least some of the accessions of S. cardiophyllum included have since be reclassified as S. ehrenbergii and vice versa.)  S. cardiophyllum might serve a more digestible substitute for those who have difficulties with the common potato glycoalkaloids.

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