Friday, 25 March 2011


Asian species, types and cultivars

Most basic sizes in Asian eggplants
(small long, egg-shaped, small round and pea-size)

Asian eggplants have representatives in these better known species: Solanum melongena L. , Solanum torvum Sw. , Solanum ferox L. Other mostly wild species are used both as sources of food and medicinal plants.

Solanum melongena L.

There is an abundance of cultivars of all sizes, shapes and colours among the Asian eggplants, far greater than among Western types. The queen of the Asian is Ping Tung by all accounts. The most productive and the most spectacular fruit. The demoiselles d' honneur would have to be Asian Bride and Thai Long Green, for the beauty of their fruit and in the case of Thai Long Green the health of its plant. Here are a few examples to make your salivate:
The cream of the long type

'Fengyuan Purple' (China)
Photo credits Tomato Growers Supply Co
'Ping Tung Long' (China)
Photo credits Southern Exposure Seed Exchange

'Ping Tung Long' (China)
Photo credits Tomato Growers Supply Co

'Machiaw' (China)
Photo credits Tomato Growers Supply Co
'Thai Long Green' (Thailand)
Photo credits Long Island Seed Project
Photo credits USDA-ARS GRIN
No name (Thailand)
Identified as GRIF 1467 (accession number)
'Asian Bride' (China)
Photo credits Tomato Growers Supply Co
'Long Purple'
Photo credits Tomato Growers Supply Co
'Asian Bride' (China)
Photo credits Known-You Seeds - Taiwan

The egg-shaped types

Sizing up the type. This is the larger egg. The European shot below with a Euro coin shows the smallest egg.


A kaleidoscope of colourful egg-shaped Asian eggplants

Indian eggplant
Ingredient of the typical Indian dish धूम्रपान बैंगन करी  Baingan ka bharta
This is a more realistic look of the fruit. Understandably catalogues tend to display beautiful glossy photos of their cultivars.


'Green Doll' an elongated form of the typical cherry-sized Thai green eggplant.Similar looking Indian cultivars are 'Harihar' (a little larger) and 'Tarini' (much larger) among others.


An elongated form of the typical cherry-sized Thai green eggplant.Likely to be the cultivar 'Orissa' becoming all yellow at maturity.
This fruit in isolation and without any reference to size, like 'Striped Toga',  could easily be confused with a smooth Jilo.


'Thai Yellow Egg' aka 'Thai Round Yellow' aka 'Golden Egg
This eggplant is actually white at the edible stage. On the left it is shown at a more advanced stage with seeds almost ripe. On the right the seeds look younger. These types of eggplants are rarely seedless. In the middle is a nice combination of various types ready for a curry. According to Cross Country Nurseries there is also a cultivar called 'Thai White Egg' which is pinkish at maturity.

Young seedless and mature 'Thai White Egg'

The cream of the small round type

A kaleidoscope of  Lao & Thai round eggplants

Solanum torvum

Curiously this Central / South American species, common garden plant in the Caribbean, is better known in Asia, and here in Australia is always referred to as an Asian vegetable or  "Thai pea eggplant". This is due to the efforts of the Thai horticultural community which has developed and promoted locally as well as abroad some improved cultivars. Elsewhere it tends to be considered as a weed even as a noxious weed due to its ability to self seed. In marketing terms, in some parts of Africa it is becoming a rival to the Uganda pea eggplant. Health authorities warned that if it became too popular and were eaten in large quantities it could lead to health problems. That could probably be said of most wild, semi-wild and even some domesticated varieties of Solanum, including the humble potato, given specific circumstances such as a greening of the tubers. The main offender being the poisonous solanine content of these plants. Certainly livestock have been poisoned by eating some of these plants.
Generally speaking, clusters of immature green fruits rather than individual fruits are picked when they reach pea- size or cherry- size, depending on cultivars. Some catalogues offer varieties without prickles, some sweet-fruited cultivars and seeds of varieties suitable for rootstock production.
One probably would have to look through the hybrids for really improved large and / or sweet fruits and for plants without prickles. The East-West Seed Group  carry in stock larger size cultivars. 'Kermit' (see table), advertised as a Solanum melongena L. may or may not have Solanum torvum parentage but it looks like a larger size pea ranging from cherry size to tennis ball size and could be used instead of the real "pea eggplant" if size matters. 'Puangyok' could be a genuine Solanum torvum Sw. cultivar with fruits reported to range from 30 to 80 g. 'Gelatik' from East West Indonesia could be another cultivar with fruits ranging from 30 to 35 g.  The importation of this species into the USA is prohibited.

The typical pea eggplant Solanum torvum Sw.

Cultivar  'Puangyok' showing seeds being formed. Still edible but just.

Gardening note: Rudy R. Schippers in her article on Solanum torvum Sw. mentions that the seeds need exposure to sunlight in order to germinate.

Solanum ferox L.


The following is mostly from an Australo-Asian perspective but this plant is also present in Africa and is known for example in China as an African eggplant.
This is a truly wild species with its armada of prickles. It produces the Wild pea eggplants of Thailand as opposed to the domesticated types of the preceding species. It is either grown in home gardens or the fruits are collected from the wild. Some fruits are also commonly offered for sale at local vegetable markets. The wild and cultivated forms are both described as cultivars, as is often the case with semi-domesticated plants. The hairy fruits are picked young and the fuzz removed by brushing. When they turn yellow they have passed their edible stage. It is known as the "Hairy-fruited eggplant", "Malaysian sunplant", "Yellow-fruited nightshade"  etc.
Breeding programs focusing on developing spineless cultivars have barely been initiated. Meanwhile germplasm collections are maintained by home gardeners in most regions of Thailand.
Some semi-domesticated forms are beginning to be reported in East Asia, even some without prickles. General statistics for the fruits are: 1.5 to 3 cm in diameter. Plants are 1 to 2 m tall , can be either prickly or not, will grow in shady spots up to 1500 m of altitude, and will yield up to 15 fruits.
There are five to seven groups of cultivars in this species but we will mention only three because the others are still obscure (at least to us) in terms of nomenclature.

Solanum ferox L. (Domesticum Group)
This group seems to be composed mainly of plants from Thailand. We haven't found any cultivar yet.

Solanum ferox L. (Sinkade Group)
This group seems to be composed mainly of plants from Burma (now called Myanmar). As one would expect there is a cultivar called 'Sinkade' with larger cherry-sized fruits. Probably not much different from those shown below.

Solanum ferox L. (Terong Asam Group)

This group is in fact a little difficult to grasp. Our understanding is that it is a synonym of Solanum lasiocarpum Dunal. and that it is by numerous accounts a popular "eggplant" in Sarawak where it is known as Sour brinjal or Wild brinjal. It goes by the Malay names Terong asam or Terong Dayak unfortunately all those names could equally apply to Solanum macrocarpon which also happens to have similar looking fruits making the identification rather difficult. Solanum lasiocarpum L.  is basically  a wild or semi-wild species occasionally cultivated for its edible fruits in Southeast Asia in general, New Guinea and Sarawak in particular. The fruits are used in sauces and curries and, like those of most of these (eggplant / nightshade borderline) plants, have a sour taste. This species has some medicinal value as well.

Mixed fruits from Borneo at the market stall

Ripe (overripe)  fruits close-up
Cooking fruits

Sour brinjal, Wild brinjal, Tarong asam or Tarong pasai or Terung dayak

 Botanical identification
 Cultivar name / Vernacular name
 Descriptive info.
(various sources)
Photo of cultivar or type if available
Solanum melongena L.
'Arumagan' aka  'Arumugam'
Green, white and lavender fruits, many are striped. From Tamil Nadu ' India.
Available : Baker Creek, Amishland Seeds.
Solanum melongena L.
'Asian Bride' aka 'Bride'
2-3 fruits per cluster. Fruit is slender, straight, 20 cm long ( 7 - 8 inches) and 3.5 cm (1 - 2 inches) in diameter, weighing about 90 g. It has purple skin with white stripes, green calyx, and white flesh.
Available : Known-You Seed Co. Ltd., Kings Seeds N. Z., Tomato Growers Supply Co
 Solanum melongena L.
'Aspara' F1
Indiant eggplant, with small oval round smooth skinned white- striped purple fruits 80 g. produced in clusters. Reminiscent ofUdumalapet.
Solanum melongena L.
'Bali ' F1
Long-fruited Indian cultivar with purple fruits in the 80 to 100g range.
Available : Seeds of India.

Solanum melongena L.
'Bangladeshi Long'
Cylindrical purple-gray fruit with dark purple stripes. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum melongena L.
'Bharata Star'
Indian cultivar with medium size round dark purple fruits (200-300 g)

 Solanum melongena L.
'Black Baby' aka 'Black Chu Chu'F1
Indiant eggplant with small oval round purple fruits 40 to 50 g. 45 days.
Available : Cross Country Nurseries.

 Solanum melongena L.
'Black Egg'
An early Japanese cultivar with small, tender, egg-shaped or pear-shaped fruits about 5 inches long. The 3 foot tall plant is somewhat tolerant of flea beetles, its foliage is green with purple veins. 65 to 85 days. Available: Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Seeds by Design, Marianna's Heirloom Seeds
Solanum melongena L.
'Cambodian Green Giant'
Large round flat variety from Cambodia. Pale green with dark green stripes, lightly ribbed (2 - 4 inches x 5 - 6 inches). 90 days. Available :Marianna's Heirloom Seeds, Trade Winds Fruits, Baker Creek, Cross Country Nurseries.
Solanum melongena L.
'Chinese Long Sword'
Similar to Long White, only a couple inches fatter. 85 days. Available: Marianna's Heirloom Seeds
Solanum melongena L.
'Chu Chu' aka 'Red Chu Chu'
Indian eggplant with small oval round bright red puple fruits 40 to 50 g. 40 days. Available : Evergreen Seeds

Solanum melongena L.
'Fengyuan Purple'
A foot (30 cm) long fruits. 65 days. Available: Tomato Growers Supply Co, Trade Winds Fruits, Cross Country Nurseries.
Solanum melongena L.
'Green Doll' F1
An elongated form of the Thai round green eggplant. White egg-shaped fruits 15-20 grams with the typical green markings.Available : Evergreen Seeds.

  Solanum melongena L. 'Hari ' F1  Long-fruited Indian cultivar with green fruits in the 80 to 100g range. 50 - 55 days.
Available : Seeds of India.

Solanum melongena L.
Oval-round-fruited Indian cultivar with green fruits in the 80 to 90 g range. 50 - 55 days.
Available : Seminis India.

 Solanum melongena L.
'Indian Red'
Extremely rare, no seed source known. Red Chu Chu would probably be the closest to this type among modern cultivars, with a sligthlydifferent shade of red and minus the black stripes.

Solanum melongena L.
'Japanese White Egg'
 Close to the "original", still grown around the world in both O.P and F1 form, mostly appreciated as a curiosity and an ornamental eggplant.
 Solanum melongena L.  'Kamo' Round fruits lavender white to dark purple 4 to 5 inches in diameter. Origin Kyoto - Japan.
Solanum melongena L. orSolanum torvum Sw. ?
'Kermit' F1
Hybrid version of Thai round cherry size eggplant, with small round white fruits 3 to 5 cm in diameter with dark-green shoulders (blossom end) and stripes. 'Tige'r & 'Petch Siam' have similar looking fruits. Compact, well-branched plant with a prolific set of 40 to 60 g fruits . 60 days. Available : Nicky's Nursery, Tomato Growers Supply Co., Reimer Seeds, Evergreen Seeds

Solanum melongena L.
'Kurume Long Purple'
Japanese cultivar with dark purple fruits, 6 - 8 inches long by 1.5 - 2 inches in diameter.
Available : 
Cross Country Nurseries.

Solanum melongena L.
'Kyoto Egg ' F1
Dark purple egg-shaped to  round fruits.

 Solanum melongena L.
'Lao Green Stripe' aka 'Green Tiger
Round 2'' green fruit with white stripes. Best eaten when small. 90 days. Available : Baker Creek, Reimer Seeds, Trade Winds Fruits, British Seeds Ltd.
Solanum melongena L.
'Lao Lavender'
Long oriental type.  Very pretty, brilliant violet fruits. 90 days.
Available : Marianna's Heirloom Seed
 Solanum melongena L.
'Lao Purple Stripe'  aka 'Purple Tiger'
Round 2'' purple fruit with white stripes. Best eaten when small. 90 days. Available : ChilePlants, Reimer Seeds, Trade Winds Fruits, British Seeds Ltd., Cross Country Nurseries.
 Solanum melongena L.
'Lao White'
Ball shaped fruit from Laos, matures to deep yellow. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum melongena L.
'Little Fingers ' F1
Chinese cultivar with small long purple fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Long White Angel ' F1 
Chinese cultivar with long white fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Lucky Green'  
Chinese cultivar with long green fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Ma Zu Purple
Chinese cultivar with long purple fruits.
Available : 
Cross Country Nurseries.

Solanum melongena L.
'Machiaw' F1
Long, slender purple fruit. Tender flesh. Available: Tomato Growers Supply Co, Cross Country Nurseries.
Solanum melongena L.
'Malaysian Dark Red'  aka'Malaysian Violet'  
8 to 10 inches long slender fruits on 2 to 3 feet plants. 60-70 days. Available: TradeWinds Fruit

Solanum melongena L.
Small Indian cultivar with dark-purple fruits in the 30 to 100g range.
Available : Seminis India.

Solanum melongena L.
'Megadok ' F1  
Chinese cultivar with long purple fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Milionaire ' F1
Japanese cultivar with long dark purple fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'No Name 1'
Thai eggplant with small round yellow fruits 2.5 to 5 cm in diameter.
Available: USDA - ARS, Chiang Mai University Thailand.

Solanum melongena L.
'No Name 2'
Thai eggplant with yellow egg-shaped fruits. Plant number 181. ID number PI 593808. Available: USDA - ARS, Chiang Mai University Thailand.
Solanum melongena L.
'No Name 3'
Thai eggplant Available: USDA - ARS,Chiang Mai University Thailand.


Solanum melongena L.
'Ping Pong' F1
A larger size fruit compared to the typical pea eggplant.

Solanum melongena L.
'Ping Tung Long' aka PingtungLong'
Deep shiny lavender fruits 12-18 inches long by 1.2 inch in diameter. Keep plant upright in order to get straight fruits.65 to 90 days. Available : Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Seeds by Design, Trade Winds Fruits, Tomato Growers Supply Company
Solanum melongena L.
'Ping Tung'
Violet-purple sweet fruits 45cm long and 5cm in diameter. Disease resistant and highly productive plant.. Top Chinese cultivar on the market from Taiwan. 62 to 70 days. Available: Nicky's Nursery

Solanum torvum Sw. or Solanummelongena L.?
'Puangyok' aka 'Puangyok Thai Pea
A Thai pea eggplant with green cherry size fruits (40 to 80g). Plant 8 to 12 feet high.
Solanum melongena L.
'Purple Ball'
Oriental bite size eggplant with small dark purple fruits 10 to 12 g. Available : Evergreen Seeds, Cross Country Nurseries.

Solanum melongena L.
'Raavayya' F1
Indian hybrid. Reddish purple oval fruits 2.5 x 1.5 inches with many uses in the kitchen.
Available : Cross Country Nurseries
Solanum melongena L.
'Ratna' aka 'Ratnayake'
Small Indian cultivar with dark-purple fruits in the 30 to 100g range.
Available : Amishland Seeds, Seeds of India.

Solanum melongena L.
'Rhim Jhim'
Indian cultivar. Purple fruits with white streaks.
Available :  Seeds of India

Solanum melongena L.
'Rolex ' F1
Thai cultivar with long (10 inches) green mild and sweet fruits about 100 to 200g. Attractive plant.

Solanum melongena L.
'Senryu Ni Gou ' F1
Japanese cultivar with elongated dark purple fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Shoya Long ' F1
Japanese cultivar with very long dark purple fruits.

Solanum melongena L.
'Southern Pink' F1
Large fruits, 150-200 grams in weight, have very small seed cavity and very slow seed ripening. Available : Evergreen Seeds.
Solanum violaceum Ortega ?
'Sparrow's Brinjal'  aka  "MaWaeng " 
Rare. Tiny greenish-white fruits are used in curries. They turn red at maturity but are still used in soups and sauces, also in natural medicine. Attractive plant needing protection from the cold. Available : Baker Creek, Nicky's Nursery
Solanum melongena L.
Indian cultivar with medium size oval dark purple fruits (200-300 g)
Solanum melongena L.
Indian cultivar with medium size round violet fruits (200-300 g)

Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Dark Round Green'
Dark green fruits, striped with white. Excellent in stir fry. Easy to grow. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum torvum Sw.
'Thai Green Pea'
Import into the USA 
Tiny green fruit looks the size of a pea. Strong eggplant taste. Great in stir fry's. Matures late. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Light Round Green'
Tiny green fruit with light green stripes. Available : Baker Creek, Nicky's Nursery, British Seeds Ltd.
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Long Green'
The 10-12" long, very slender fruits are a beautiful light-lime green. The flesh is tender with a mild sweet flavour and few seeds if picked early. Whitening of the fruit indicates maturing and start of seed formation. Good yields on 2-3 ft tall plants. Will grow in a large-enough tub. 80 days. Available : Nicky's Nursery, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, Marianna's Heirloom Seeds, British Seeds Ltd.
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Long Purple'
Long, thin fruit are dark purple, very mild, sweet and uniform. Available : Nicky's Nursery
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Long Violet'
Violet to light-purple. Can easily be confused with either Ping Tung or Thai Long Purple. Has most of the culinary attributes of Thai Long Green. Available: Seed Savers Network (Aust.)
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Long Yellow'
In reality unknow cultivar of Thaieggplant.Registered with GRIN as PI 639115, Plant number 243. Available: USDA - ARS, Chiang Mai University Thailand.

Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Purple Egg'
Small purple egg shaped fruit. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Round Green'
Typical Thai round eggplant with fruits 2 inches in diameter in the 40 to 80g range..Available : Evergreen Seeds.

Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Round Green'
Available :
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Round White'
 Available :
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai White Ribbed'
Most unusual among the Thai eggplants. Pure white, flat and deeply ribbed. Famous inThailand, egg shaped fruit picked when bright yellow. Used as garnish. Available : Baker Creek
Solanum melongena L.
'Thai Yellow Egg'
Egg sized fruits harvested when they are a bright golden yellow. Used in Thai dishes and as a garnish. Available : Nicky's Nursery, Trade Winds Fruits, British Seeds Ltd.
Solanum melongena L.
'Udumalapet' aka 'Udmalbet'
From Tamil Nadu - India. Fruits 3 inches long. Plant matures in 80 - 90 days.
Available : Seed Savers Exchange, Trade Winds Fruits, British Seeds Ltd., Amishland Seeds.
Solanum melongena L.
'Violet Prince ' F1
Thai eggplant with small round violet-purple and white skinned fruits 25-30 grams. 35-40 days. Available : Evergreen Seeds.

Solanum melongena L.
'Matti Gulla' aka "Green brinjal"
Indian type of large round eggplant grown in Matti village of Udupi district.
Solanum melongena L.
'White Ball ' F1
White fruits in the 40 to 80g range.

Solanum melongena L.
'Wu kung ch'ieh'
Thai eggplant with small round white fruits. Available: USDA - ARS, Chiang Mai University Thailand.
Solanum melongena L.
 มะเขือม่วงเล็ก  aka  'Thai Small Purple'
 Slightly elongated egg-shaped purple-red Thai eggplant.

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