Eggplants are enjoyed worldwide. They can be found in white, yellow, green, orange and varied shades of purple, while some varieties have lighter coloured stripes.
The first known written record of the eggplant is found in a Chinese agricultural treatise completed in CE 544, but the eggplant is not mentioned in English literature until it appears in an English botany book in 1597.
Eggplant was originally domesticated in India and descends from a wild nightshade called a thorn apple. (S. insanum (Knapp et al., 2013)) Its subgenus is Leptostemonum, which is normally indicated simply as L following the species. There are 3 species we care about in growing our own food: Solanum melongena, Solanum aethiopicum and Solanum macrocarpon.
Within Solanum melongena, groups G and H contain large fruited landraces and modern cultivars. (Knapp et al., 2013).
Solanum aethiopicum is also classified into four cultivar groups: Gilo (edible fruits with different shapes, color, and size, and hairy, inedible leaves), Shum ( glabrous and small leaves that are eaten as a green vegetable but the fruits are inedible), Kumba (glabrous leaves and flattened large fruits, which are edible), and Aculeatum (more prickliness than other groups with flat-shaped fruit, and are used as ornamentals) (Lester, 1986; Prohens et al., 2012; Plazas et al., 2014a).
Diseases & Pests
Eggplant is impacted by a lot of diseases such as mosaic virus, bacterial, verticillium and fusarium wilts, alternaria, anthracnose, leaf spot, damping off, phomopsis, phytophthora, and little leaf of brinjal (Rotino et al., 1997).
Eggplant is also often attacked by stem borer, eggplant fruit and shoot borer, leaf roller, whiteflies, mites, aphids, leafhopper, thrips, spotted beetles, and blister beetle. (Rotino et al., 1997; Medakker and Vijayaraghavan, 2007).
A five year crop rotation cycle is recommended to avoid diseases. Practice excellent sanitation to ensure bacteria, wilts, rots and insects are not gathering under or around dead leaves and fruit.
Eggplant should not be given too much nitrogen or they will have small bitter fruits and a lot of bushy leaves.
Eggplant is low in fat, protein and carbohydrates, but also is high in many vitamins and minerals.
The cut surface quickly browns like an apple once cut. The fruit can absorb large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, but salting will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. It can be stewed, deep fried or deep fried in batter, pickled, stuffed and baked, braised, steamed, roasted and peeled ( for example for making baba ganoush, which is like an eggplant hummus with a very smoky flavour)
NOTE: Eggplant leaves and flowers can be poisonous if consumed in large quantities due to the presence of solanine. Additionally, on average, 9 kg (20 lbs) of eggplant will contain about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.
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