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Eggplant (Aubergine)

Eggplant, also known as brinjal or aubergine, belongs to the Solanaceae family. Worldwide, Solanum melongena is cultivated for its fruit.

Botanically eggplant is a berry, but it is used in many cuisines as a vegetable because it is spongy and absorbent. It is commonly purple. Eggplant belongs to the same genus Solanum from which potato and tomato are. It is low in micro and macronutrients, but due to its spongy texture when it is cooked, its flesh absorbs flavors and oils, which increases its use in culinary arts.

The eggplant was domesticated from bitter apple or thorn species of wild nightshade, S. incanum. Through two independent South Asia domestication and East Asia domestication. 87% of the total production of eggplant in 2018 was combined from India and China.

What does Eggplant look like?

Eggplant is a cultivated perennial in tropical and temperate weather. The delicate eggplant stem is spiny; flowers are purple to white; corolla is five-lobed, and stamens are yellow. The fruit is of two types: egg-shaped with glossy purple skin, and the other is longer in shape and white, but both have spongy white flesh. Eggplant has iron in it, so when its white flesh is exposed to air, it turns to brown due to an oxidation reaction.

Eggplant vines grow 40-150 cm in length, with large, 10-20 cm and 5-10 cm broad coarsely lobed leaves. Semi wild type eggplant can grow more than 225 cm with 39cm large and 15 cm broad leaves. The wild type fruit is 3 cm in diameter, but the cultivated type is more than 30cm. Large round fat eggplants are common in the West.

Is Eggplant a fruit?

Botanically eggplant is a berry. The fruit has many small edible seeds which taste bitter because it is covered with nicotinic alkaloids, like tobacco.

How do you grow Eggplant?

Eggplant is a garden vegetable (really a fruit); it can grow in buildings in a tropical climate. After frost danger passed, in temperate weather, it gives better and mature fruit. In cold and low humidity, it does not grow and produce healthy fruit. It is included in the low flammable list of plants to be grown within a house.

During cultivation, the spacing between plants should be 45 to 60 cm, and between rows should be 60 to 90 cm, depends on cultivar and cultivation equipment, respectively. Mulching helps prevent fungal diseases and weeds, conserve moisture, and provide shade during the hottest time of the day. Hand pollination through shaking the flowers stem enhances the onset of first blossoms. From the Eggplant vine fruit is cut from above the calyx. Flowers of Eggplant is complete, have both male and female structures, cross or self-pollination happens.

The diseases and pests which affect the other plants of the solanaceous family-like capsicum, tomato, and potato can also affect eggplant. Whiteflies are troublesome for Eggplants. The integrated pest management approach can be used to control whiteflies through growing it with chili pepper, which acts as a sacrificial trap crop. The eggplant should be cultivated with a four years gap to decrease the pressure of the pest.
Common pests of eggplant in North America are flea beetles, potato beetles, spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids. Crop rotation and good sanitation practices are important to control Verticillium fungal disease.

Eggplant Classification

  • Kingdom: Plantae
  • Clade: Tracheophytes
  • Clade: Angiosperms
  • Clade: Eudicots
  • Clade: Asterids
  • Order: Solanales
  • Family: Solanaceae
  • Genus: Solanum
  • Species: Solanum melongena
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