Solanum melongena: Eggplant, Brinjal

Family: Solanaceae
Common name: Eggplant, Aubergine, Brinjal

Eggplants like potatoes are a favorite across the world, used in all cuisines, be it in Asia, Africa, Europe or the Americas. There are different varieties of eggplants, ranging in sizes and colors from white to green to purple to deep purple.

The plants grow in height from 2-4 feet with broad leaves having irregular lobes. The stem is soft and green, woody at the base, thorny and often covered with fine hair. Flowers are white or light violet in color, and exceptionally beautiful with 5 distinct petals and a yellow column of stamens.

Flowers have both male and female parts, and hence can self-pollinate or cross-pollinate. Pollination is done by bees, insects and ants that are attracted to the flowers. The flowers then form fruits that vary widely in size, shape and color depending on the species.

The commonly seen colors are purple, green and white and a hue of shades in between. There is a pure white variant that looks very similar to eggs, and that’s where the plant got its name.

The fruit has a spongy texture that can absorb flavors very well, and small edible seeds arranged throughout the flesh. All these varieties are used extensively in Indian cuisine; fried, baked, boiled, mashed, stewed, curried or pickled. Stuffed eggplants are also a hot favorite in Indian cuisine.

There are 3 main varieties – common aubergines, dwarf aubergines and snake aubergines. There are also hundreds of cultivars like Black beauty, Dusky, Classic, Little fingers, Ichiban, Easter eggs, Prosperosa and many more.

Propagation is from seeds.

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