Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Porcupine Tomato, Solanum
Solanum pyracanthum

Family: Solanaceae (so-lan-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Solanum (so-LAN-num) (Info)
Species: pyracanthum (py-ra-KAN-thum) (Info)

2 vendors have this plant for sale.

10 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

9-12 in. (22-30 cm)

USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Sun to Partial Shade

Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
This plant is suitable for growing indoors

Soil pH requirements:
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing
Unblemished fruit must be significantly overripe before harvesting seed; clean and dry seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds

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There are a total of 14 photos.
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5 positives
1 neutral
1 negative

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive meawoppl On Dec 31, 2013, meawoppl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

I picked one of these up in a Berkeley nursery. Started out cute, and quickly grew monstrous (~1.5M). I watered it fairly often and it was in a warm North-facing window. It dropped a large number of leaves during growth, and a number more since it has gotten cold, but it continues to bloom. I tried self-pollination, and got a largish crop of tiny tomatoes. They are "edible" only by the strictest definition of the word.

I am going to try growing the seeds this spring.

Positive marwood0 On Jul 15, 2012, marwood0 from Golden, CO (Zone 5b) wrote:

I had one seedling sprout out of several seeds I planted. It's one of my favorites. It has spent most of it's 4 years in a small pot in the basement under 24x7 fluorescent lights. it stays about 0.5m tall; it blooms if I water it 3 to 4 times per month, and the air is very dry here (winter sometimes 10% rh). My plant has never made fruits though. I can't tell if it just can't self pollinate or not. I have tried to manually pollinate it with no success.

Neutral skwiff On Jun 19, 2012, skwiff from gillingham
United Kingdom wrote:

i saw this plant 3 years ago at hampton court and i fell in love with it! it was only last night i found it again and i plan to get the seeds at some point!

Positive vanessa_c On Oct 16, 2011, vanessa_c from Tustin, CA wrote:

I planted a small 4" one and it grew to about 4 feet or so the first year. I thinned and tipped it back regularly so not sure how big it's ultimate size might have been. I never had any seedlings sprout as one commenter said. The plant seems to be short lived, as it began to fade after three years in the ground and finally died. I recently bought a new one, love the orange/purple color combination and the spines. Use care when pruning, though!

Positive lazepherine On Apr 30, 2009, lazepherine from Seattle, WA wrote:

I just acquired my second solanum pyracanthum. I had one years ago that thrived, planted up in a terra cotta pot on a hot patio, (though it only grew to a very manageable 3 1/2 feet). I was amazed to see it come back from the dead the next summer, having spent the cold months in an exposed area with no winter protection. It put on a great show the second summer once again, bearing fruit, but the second Seattle winter did it in. I'm looking forward to growing this oddity again, and have added Solanum "Malevolence" to the spiny collection this year. I found this plant useful in keeping animal marauders out my garden too: no squirrels digging holes near that pot.

Negative palmbob On Jul 14, 2003, palmbob from Acton, CA (Zone 8b) wrote:

I too was fascinated with the bizzare plant when I first saw it, and having a garden full of spiny things decided to add this one to it.. it is an extremely drought tolerant plant here in So Cal... but it spreads like crazy all over the place. Each dinky little seedling immediately produces those noxious orange spines making weeding them a painful and delicate experience. I have since tried to rid my garden of this plant unsuccessfully. It gets huge, by the way- mine was nearly 8' tall and 8' wide before I hacked it down (two years later) and there are literally hundreds of seedlings showing up all the time- OUCH! Planter beware before adding this one to the garden!

Positive plantrat On Jul 13, 2003, plantrat wrote:

This plant is visually amazing. Just purchased it and interestingly the very same blurb at the plant shop is the first comment posted here. Plan to keep it inside over winter as it is frost tender.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

, British Columbia
Brentwood, California
Canoga Park, California
Gilroy, California
Novato, California
Richmond, California
Sacramento, California
San Francisco, California
San Jose, California
San Leandro, California
Santa Cruz, California
Vallejo, California
Lakeland, Florida
Plant City, Florida
Meridian, Idaho
Old Bridge, New Jersey
Brooklyn, New York
Warren, Ohio
Walterville, Oregon
Seattle, Washington (2 reports)

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