Solanaceae

Solanaceae

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Solanaceae are a family
Family (biology)
In biological classification, family is* a taxonomic rank. Other well-known ranks are life, domain, kingdom, phylum, class, order, genus, and species, with family fitting between order and genus. As for the other well-known ranks, there is the option of an immediately lower rank, indicated by the...

 of flowering plant
Flowering plant
The flowering plants , also known as Angiospermae or Magnoliophyta, are the most diverse group of land plants. Angiosperms are seed-producing plants like the gymnosperms and can be distinguished from the gymnosperms by a series of synapomorphies...

s that include a number of important agricultural crop
Crop
Crop may refer to:* Crop, a plant grown and harvested for agricultural use* Crop , part of the alimentary tract of some animals* Crop , a modified whip used in horseback riding or disciplining humans...

s as well as many toxic
Toxin
A toxin is a poisonous substance produced within living cells or organisms; man-made substances created by artificial processes are thus excluded...

 plants. The name of the family comes from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 Solanum
Solanum
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

"the nightshade plant", but the further etymology of that word is unclear. Most likely, the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun
Sun
The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is almost perfectly spherical and consists of hot plasma interwoven with magnetic fields...

 and its rays
Sunlight
Sunlight, in the broad sense, is the total frequency spectrum of electromagnetic radiation given off by the Sun. On Earth, sunlight is filtered through the Earth's atmosphere, and solar radiation is obvious as daylight when the Sun is above the horizon.When the direct solar radiation is not blocked...

, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum
Solanum nigrum
Solanum nigrum is a species in the Solanum genus, native to Eurasia and introduced in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa.-Description:Black...

) is known as the sunberry. Alternatively, it has been suggested the name originates from the Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 verb
Verb
A verb, from the Latin verbum meaning word, is a word that in syntax conveys an action , or a state of being . In the usual description of English, the basic form, with or without the particle to, is the infinitive...

 solari, meaning "to soothe". This presumably refers to soothing pharmacological
Pharmacology
Pharmacology is the branch of medicine and biology concerned with the study of drug action. More specifically, it is the study of the interactions that occur between a living organism and chemicals that affect normal or abnormal biochemical function...

 properties of some of the psychoactive species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 of the family.

The family is also informally known as the nightshade - or potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

 family. The family includes Datura
Datura
Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe...

(Jimson weed), Mandragora
Mandrágora
For other uses see Mandragora .La Mandrágora was a Chilean Surrealist group "officially founded" on 12 July 1938 by Braulio Arenas , Teófilo Cid and Enrique Gómez Correa . The group had met in Talca and first started exchanging in 1932...

(mandrake
Mandrake (plant)
Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora, particularly the species Mandragora officinarum, belonging to the nightshades family...

), Belladonna (deadly nightshade
Deadly nightshade
Atropa belladonna or Atropa bella-donna, commonly known as Belladonna, Devil's Berries, Death Cherries or Deadly Nightshade, is a perennial herbaceous plant in the family Solanaceae, native to Europe, North Africa, and Western Asia. The foliage and berries are extremely toxic, containing tropane...

), Lycium barbarum (Wolfberry
Wolfberry
Wolfberry, commercially called goji berry, is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum and L. chinense , two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae...

), Physalis philadelphica (Tomatillo
Tomatillo
The tomatillo is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown as annuals throughout the Western Hemisphere...

) , Physalis peruviana
Physalis peruviana
Physalis peruviana is the plant and its fruit, also known as cape gooseberry , Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry , poha , ras bhari , aguaymanto , uvilla ,...

(Cape gooseberry flower
Physalis peruviana
Physalis peruviana is the plant and its fruit, also known as cape gooseberry , Inca berry, Aztec berry, golden berry, giant ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry , poha , ras bhari , aguaymanto , uvilla ,...

), Capsicum
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

(paprika
Paprika
Paprika is a spice made from the grinding of dried fruits of Capsicum annuum . In many European languages, the word paprika refers to bell peppers themselves. The seasoning is used in many cuisines to add color and flavor to dishes. Paprika can range from mild to hot...

, chili pepper
Chili pepper
Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...

), Solanum
Solanum
Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

(potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

, tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

, eggplant), Nicotiana
Nicotiana
Nicotiana is a genus of herbs and shrubs of the nightshade family indigenous to North and South America, Australia, south west Africa and the South Pacific. Various Nicotiana species, commonly referred to as tobacco plants, are cultivated and grown to produce tobacco. Of all Nicotiana species,...

(tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

), and Petunia
Petunia
Petunia is a widely cultivated genus of flowering plants of South American origin, closely related with tobacco, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; in the family Solanaceae. The popular flower derived its name from French, which took the word petun, meaning...

. With the exception of tobacco (Nicotianoideae) and petunia (Petunioideae), most of the economically important genera are contained in the sub-family Solanoideae
Solanoideae
Solanoideae is a subfamily of the flowering plant family Solanaceae, and is sister to the subfamily Nicotianoideae. Within Solanaceae, Solanoideae contains some of the most economically important genera and species, such as the tomato , potato , eggplant , chili peppers , mandrakes Solanoideae is a...

.

Solanaceae are characteristically ethnobotanical
Ethnobotany
Ethnobotany is the scientific study of the relationships that exist between people and plants....

, that is, extensively utilized by human
Human
Humans are the only living species in the Homo genus...

s. They are important sources of food
Food
Food is any substance consumed to provide nutritional support for the body. It is usually of plant or animal origin, and contains essential nutrients, such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, or minerals...

, spice
Spice
A spice is a dried seed, fruit, root, bark, or vegetative substance used in nutritionally insignificant quantities as a food additive for flavor, color, or as a preservative that kills harmful bacteria or prevents their growth. It may be used to flavour a dish or to hide other flavours...

 and medicine
Medicine
Medicine is the science and art of healing. It encompasses a variety of health care practices evolved to maintain and restore health by the prevention and treatment of illness....

. However, Solanaceae species are often rich in alkaloid
Alkaloid
Alkaloids are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that contain mostly basic nitrogen atoms. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Also some synthetic compounds of similar structure are attributed to alkaloids...

s whose toxicity
Toxicity
Toxicity is the degree to which a substance can damage a living or non-living organisms. Toxicity can refer to the effect on a whole organism, such as an animal, bacterium, or plant, as well as the effect on a substructure of the organism, such as a cell or an organ , such as the liver...

 to humans and animals ranges from mildly irritating to fatal in small quantities.

Description


Plants are herbs, shrubs, trees, or sometimes vines. The flowers are usually actinomorphic. Flower shapes are typically rotate (radiately spreading in one plane with a short tube) or tubular (elongated cylindrical tube), with 4-5 petal
Petal
Petals are modified leaves that surround the reproductive parts of flowers. They often are brightly colored or unusually shaped to attract pollinators. Together, all of the petals of a flower are called a corolla. Petals are usually accompanied by another set of special leaves called sepals lying...

s that are usually fused. Leaves are alternate. The fruit
Fruit
In broad terms, a fruit is a structure of a plant that contains its seeds.The term has different meanings dependent on context. In non-technical usage, such as food preparation, fruit normally means the fleshy seed-associated structures of certain plants that are sweet and edible in the raw state,...

 has axile placentation and is a berry
Berry
The botanical definition of a berry is a fleshy fruit produced from a single ovary. Grapes are an example. The berry is the most common type of fleshy fruit in which the entire ovary wall ripens into an edible pericarp. They may have one or more carpels with a thin covering and fleshy interiors....

 as in the case of the tomato
Tomato
The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

 or wolfberry
Wolfberry
Wolfberry, commercially called goji berry, is the common name for the fruit of two very closely related species: Lycium barbarum and L. chinense , two species of boxthorn in the family Solanaceae...

, or a dehiscent
Dehiscence (botany)
Dehiscence is the opening, at maturity, in a pre-defined way, of a plant structure, such as a fruit, anther, or sporangium, to release its contents. Sometimes this involves the complete detachment of a part. Structures that open in this way are said to be dehiscent...

 capsule
Capsule (fruit)
In botany a capsule is a type of simple, dry fruit produced by many species of flowering plants. A capsule is a structure composed of two or more carpels that in most cases is dehiscent, i.e. at maturity, it splits apart to release the seeds within. A few capsules are indehiscent, for example...

 as in Datura
Datura
Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe...

. The seeds are usually round and flat, about 2–4 mm (0.078740157480315–0.15748031496063 in) in diameter. The stamen
Stamen
The stamen is the pollen producing reproductive organ of a flower...

s are epipetalous and are typically present in multiples of 4 or 5, most commonly four or eight. The ovary
Ovary (plants)
In the flowering plants, an ovary is a part of the female reproductive organ of the flower or gynoecium. Specifically, it is the part of the pistil which holds the ovule and is located above or below or at the point of connection with the base of the petals and sepals...

 is superior.

Genetics



Most Solanaceae have basically 12 chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s, a number that has increased due to polyploidy
Polyploidy
Polyploid is a term used to describe cells and organisms containing more than two paired sets of chromosomes. Most eukaryotic species are diploid, meaning they have two sets of chromosomes — one set inherited from each parent. However polyploidy is found in some organisms and is especially common...

. Wild potato
Potato
The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

es, of which there are approximately 200, are predominantly diploid (2 * 12 = 24 chromosomes) but triploid (3 * 12 =36 chromosomes), tetraploid (4 * 12 = 48 chromosomes), pentaploid (5 * 12 = 60) and even hexaploid (6 * 12 = 72 chromosome) species or populations exist. The cultivated species Solanum tuberosum has 4 * 12 = 48 chromosomes. Some capsicum
Capsicum
Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

 species have 2 * 12 = 24 chromosomes, while others have 26 chromosomes.

Alkaloids


Solanaceae are known for possessing a diverse range of alkaloid
Alkaloid
Alkaloids are a group of naturally occurring chemical compounds that contain mostly basic nitrogen atoms. This group also includes some related compounds with neutral and even weakly acidic properties. Also some synthetic compounds of similar structure are attributed to alkaloids...

s. As far as humans are concerned, these alkaloids can be desirable, toxic, or both.

One of the most important groups of these compounds is called the tropane
Tropane
Tropane is a nitrogenous bicyclic organic compound. It is mainly known for a group of alkaloids derived from it , which include, among others, atropine and cocaine. Both alkaloids contain tropinone from which tropane is a derivate...

 alkaloids. The term "tropane" comes from a genus
Genus
In biology, a genus is a low-level taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, which is an example of definition by genus and differentia...

 in which they are found, Atropa
Atropa
Atropa is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its best-known member is the Deadly Nightshade . Its pharmacologically active ingredients include atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, all tropane alkaloids...

(the belladonna genus). The belladonna genus is so named after the Greek Fate
Moirae
The Moirae, Moerae or Moirai , in Greek mythology, were the white-robed incarnations of destiny . Their number became fixed at three...

, Atropos
Atropos
Atropos or Aisa , in Greek mythology, was one of the three Moirae, goddesses of fate and destiny. Her Roman equivalent was Morta.Atropos or Aisa was the oldest of the Three Fates, and was known as the "inflexible" or "inevitable." It was Atropos who chose the mechanism of death and ended the life...

, who cut the thread of life. This nomenclature reflects its toxicity and lethality.

Tropane alkaloids are also found in the Datura
Datura
Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe...

, Mandragora
Mandrágora
For other uses see Mandragora .La Mandrágora was a Chilean Surrealist group "officially founded" on 12 July 1938 by Braulio Arenas , Teófilo Cid and Enrique Gómez Correa . The group had met in Talca and first started exchanging in 1932...

, and Brugmansia
Brugmansia
Brugmansia is a genus of seven species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil. They are known as Angel's Trumpets, sharing that name with the closely related genus...

genera, as well as many others in the Solanaceae family. Chemically, the molecules of these compounds have a characteristic bicyclic structure and include atropine
Atropine
Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade , Jimson weed , mandrake and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects...

, scopolamine
Scopolamine
Scopolamine, also known as levo-duboisine, and hyoscine, is a tropane alkaloid drug with muscarinic antagonist effects. It is among the secondary metabolites of plants from Solanaceae family of plants, such as henbane, jimson weed and Angel's Trumpets , and corkwood...

, and hyoscyamine
Hyoscyamine
Hyoscyamine is a tropane alkaloid. It is a secondary metabolite found in certain plants of the Solanaceae family, including henbane , mandrake , jimsonweed , tomato and deadly nightshade...

. Pharmacologically, they are the most powerful known anticholinergic
Anticholinergic
An anticholinergic agent is a substance that blocks the neurotransmitter acetylcholine in the central and the peripheral nervous system. An example of an anticholinergic is dicycloverine, and the classic example is atropine....

s in existence, meaning they inhibit the neurological signals transmitted by the endogenous
Endogenous
Endogenous substances are those that originate from within an organism, tissue, or cell. Endogenous retroviruses are caused by ancient infections of germ cells in humans, mammals and other vertebrates...

 neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitter
Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. Neurotransmitters are packaged into synaptic vesicles clustered beneath the membrane on the presynaptic side of a synapse, and are released into the synaptic cleft, where they bind to...

, acetylcholine
Acetylcholine
The chemical compound acetylcholine is a neurotransmitter in both the peripheral nervous system and central nervous system in many organisms including humans...

. Symptom
Symptom
A symptom is a departure from normal function or feeling which is noticed by a patient, indicating the presence of disease or abnormality...

s of overdose may include dry mouth
Xerostomia
Xerostomia is the medical term for the subjective complaint of dry mouth due to a lack of saliva. Xerostomia is sometimes colloquially called pasties, cottonmouth, drooth, or doughmouth. Several diseases, treatments, and medications can cause xerostomia. It can also be exacerbated by smoking or...

, dilated pupils
Mydriasis
Mydriasis is a dilation of the pupil due to disease, trauma or the use of drugs. Normally, the pupil dilates in the dark and constricts in the light to respectively improve vividity at night and to protect the retina from sunlight damage during the day...

, ataxia
Ataxia
Ataxia is a neurological sign and symptom that consists of gross lack of coordination of muscle movements. Ataxia is a non-specific clinical manifestation implying dysfunction of the parts of the nervous system that coordinate movement, such as the cerebellum...

, urinary retention
Urinary retention
Urinary retention, also known as ischuria, is a lack of ability to urinate. It is a common complication of benign prostatic hyperplasia , although it can also be caused by nerve dysfunction, constipation, infection, or medications...

, hallucination
Hallucination
A hallucination, in the broadest sense of the word, is a perception in the absence of a stimulus. In a stricter sense, hallucinations are defined as perceptions in a conscious and awake state in the absence of external stimuli which have qualities of real perception, in that they are vivid,...

s, convulsions
Seizure
An epileptic seizure, occasionally referred to as a fit, is defined as a transient symptom of "abnormal excessive or synchronous neuronal activity in the brain". The outward effect can be as dramatic as a wild thrashing movement or as mild as a brief loss of awareness...

, coma
Coma
In medicine, a coma is a state of unconsciousness, lasting more than 6 hours in which a person cannot be awakened, fails to respond normally to painful stimuli, light or sound, lacks a normal sleep-wake cycle and does not initiate voluntary actions. A person in a state of coma is described as...

, and death
Death
Death is the permanent termination of the biological functions that sustain a living organism. Phenomena which commonly bring about death include old age, predation, malnutrition, disease, and accidents or trauma resulting in terminal injury....

.

Despite the extreme toxicity of the tropanes, they are useful drugs when administered in extremely small dosages. They can reverse cholinergic
Cholinergic
The word choline generally refers to the various quaternary ammonium salts containing the N,N,N-trimethylethanolammonium cation. Found in most animal tissues, choline is a primary component of the neurotransmitter acetylcholine and functions with inositol as a basic constituent of lecithin...

 poisoning, which can be caused by overexposure to pesticide
Pesticide
Pesticides are substances or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling or mitigating any pest.A pesticide may be a chemical unicycle, biological agent , antimicrobial, disinfectant or device used against any pest...

s and chemical warfare
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

 agents such as sarin
Sarin
Sarin, or GB, is an organophosphorus compound with the formula [2CHO]CH3PF. It is a colorless, odorless liquid, which is used as a chemical weapon. It has been classified as a weapon of mass destruction in UN Resolution 687...

 and VX
VX (nerve agent)
VX, IUPAC name O-ethyl S-[2-ethyl] methylphosphonothioate, is an extremely toxic substance whose only application is in chemical warfare as a nerve agent. As a chemical weapon, it is classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the United Nations in UN Resolution 687...

. More commonly, they can halt many types of allergic reactions. Scopolamine
Scopolamine
Scopolamine, also known as levo-duboisine, and hyoscine, is a tropane alkaloid drug with muscarinic antagonist effects. It is among the secondary metabolites of plants from Solanaceae family of plants, such as henbane, jimson weed and Angel's Trumpets , and corkwood...

, a commonly used ophthalmological
Ophthalmology
Ophthalmology is the branch of medicine that deals with the anatomy, physiology and diseases of the eye. An ophthalmologist is a specialist in medical and surgical eye problems...

 agent, dilates the pupils and thus facilitates examination of the interior of the eye. They can also be used as antiemetic
Antiemetic
An antiemetic is a drug that is effective against vomiting and nausea. Antiemetics are typically used to treat motion sickness and the side effects of opioid analgesics, general anaesthetics, and chemotherapy directed against cancer....

s in people prone to motion sickness
Motion sickness
Motion sickness or kinetosis, also known as travel sickness, is a condition in which a disagreement exists between visually perceived movement and the vestibular system's sense of movement...

 or receiving chemotherapy
Chemotherapy
Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer with an antineoplastic drug or with a combination of such drugs into a standardized treatment regimen....

. Atropine
Atropine
Atropine is a naturally occurring tropane alkaloid extracted from deadly nightshade , Jimson weed , mandrake and other plants of the family Solanaceae. It is a secondary metabolite of these plants and serves as a drug with a wide variety of effects...

 has a stimulant
Stimulant
Stimulants are psychoactive drugs which induce temporary improvements in either mental or physical function or both. Examples of these kinds of effects may include enhanced alertness, wakefulness, and locomotion, among others...

 effect on the central nervous system
Central nervous system
The central nervous system is the part of the nervous system that integrates the information that it receives from, and coordinates the activity of, all parts of the bodies of bilaterian animals—that is, all multicellular animals except sponges and radially symmetric animals such as jellyfish...

 and heart
Heart
The heart is a myogenic muscular organ found in all animals with a circulatory system , that is responsible for pumping blood throughout the blood vessels by repeated, rhythmic contractions...

, whereas scopolamine has a sedative
Sedative
A sedative or tranquilizer is a substance that induces sedation by reducing irritability or excitement....

 effect.

An infamous alkaloid derived from Solanaceae is nicotine
Nicotine
Nicotine is an alkaloid found in the nightshade family of plants that constitutes approximately 0.6–3.0% of the dry weight of tobacco, with biosynthesis taking place in the roots and accumulation occurring in the leaves...

. Like the tropanes, its pharmacology acts on cholinergic neurons, but with the opposite effect (it is an agonist
Agonist
An agonist is a chemical that binds to a receptor of a cell and triggers a response by that cell. Agonists often mimic the action of a naturally occurring substance...

 as opposed to an antagonist
Receptor antagonist
A receptor antagonist is a type of receptor ligand or drug that does not provoke a biological response itself upon binding to a receptor, but blocks or dampens agonist-mediated responses...

). It has a higher specificity for nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptor
Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, or nAChRs, are cholinergic receptors that form ligand-gated ion channels in the plasma membranes of certain neurons and on the postsynaptic side of the neuromuscular junction...

s than other ACh proteins. Its effects are well known. Nicotine occurs naturally in the Nicotiana
Nicotiana
Nicotiana is a genus of herbs and shrubs of the nightshade family indigenous to North and South America, Australia, south west Africa and the South Pacific. Various Nicotiana species, commonly referred to as tobacco plants, are cultivated and grown to produce tobacco. Of all Nicotiana species,...

or Tobacco
Tobacco
Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

 genus.

Another class of toxic substances found in this family are the glycoalkaloid
Glycoalkaloid
Glycoalkaloids are a family of poisons commonly found in the plant species Solanum dulcamara . There are several glycoalkaloids that are potentially toxic. A prototypical glycoalkaloid is called solanine , which is found in potato...

s, for example solanine
Solanine
Solanine is a glycoalkaloid poison found in species of the nightshade family , such as the potato . It can occur naturally in any part of the plant, including the leaves, fruit, and tubers. Solanine has fungicidal and pesticidal properties, and it is one of the plant's natural defenses...

 which has occasionally been responsible for poisonings in people who ate berries from species such as Solanum nigrum
Solanum nigrum
Solanum nigrum is a species in the Solanum genus, native to Eurasia and introduced in the Americas, Australasia and South Africa.-Description:Black...

or Solanum dulcamara
Solanum dulcamara
Solanum dulcamara, also known as bittersweet, bittersweet nightshade, bitter nightshade, blue bindweed, Amara Dulcis, climbing nightshade, fellenwort, felonwood, poisonberry, poisonflower, scarlet berry, snakeberry, trailing bittersweet, trailing nightshade, violet bloom, or woody...

, or green potatoes.

The chemical in chili peppers responsible for the burning sensation is capsaicin
Capsaicin
Capsaicin 2CHCH=CH4CONHCH2C6H3-4--3- ) is the active component of chili peppers, which are plants belonging to the genus Capsicum. It is an irritant for mammals, including humans, and produces a sensation of burning in any tissue with which it comes into contact...

. Capsaicin affects only mammals, not birds. Pepper seeds can always survive the digestive tract of birds; their fruit becomes brightly colored once its seeds are mature enough to germinate thereby attracting the attention of birds who then distribute the seeds. Capsaicin extract is used to make pepper spray
Pepper spray
Pepper spray, also known as OC spray , OC gas, and capsicum spray, is a lachrymatory agent that is used in riot control, crowd control and personal self-defense, including defense against dogs and bears...

, a useful deterrent against aggressive mammals.

Selected genera

  • Acnistus
    Acnistus
    Acnistus is a genus of plants in the Solanaceae, the nightshade family.*Acnistus arborescens - hollowheart*Acnistus cauliflorus*Acnistus lorentzii*Acnistus parviflorus...

  • Alona
    Alona (plant)
    Alona is a genus of plants in the Solanaceae or nightshade family native to Chile. It is often considered to be a subgenus within the genus Nolana.-External links:**...

  • Anisodus
    Anisodus
    Anisodus is a genus of flowering plant in the family Solanaceae.-Medicinal uses:One species, A. tanguticus , is one of the 50 fundamental herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine.-Species:*Anisodus acutangulus C. Y. Wu & C. Chen...

  • Anthocercis
    Anthocercis
    Anthocercis, commonly known as Tailflower, is a genus of shrubs which are endemic in southern temperate Australia with the center of distribution in the South West Botanical Province of Western Australia. All species of Anthocercis contain tropane alkaloids, and have occasionally caused poisoning...

  • Atropa
    Atropa
    Atropa is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its best-known member is the Deadly Nightshade . Its pharmacologically active ingredients include atropine, scopolamine, and hyoscyamine, all tropane alkaloids...

    – Deadly nightshade
  • Atropanthe
  • Browallia
    Browallia
    Browallia is a genus of Solanaceae family. It is named after Johannes Browallius , also known as Johan Browall, a swedish botanist, physician and bishop.-Selected species:* Browallia americana L. - Jamaican forget-me-not...

  • Brugmansia
    Brugmansia
    Brugmansia is a genus of seven species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to subtropical regions of South America, along the Andes from Colombia to northern Chile, and also in southeastern Brazil. They are known as Angel's Trumpets, sharing that name with the closely related genus...

    – Angel's trumpet
  • Brunfelsia
    Brunfelsia
    Brunfelsia is a genus of about 40 species of neotropical shrubs and small trees.The leaves are alternate and simple, with shapes generally elliptic to ovate. The flowers are large and tubular, with five broad petals. Typical habitat is light woodland and thickets. Species in cultivation include...

  • Calibrachoa
    Calibrachoa
    Calibrachoa is a genus of plants in the Solanaceae family. They are weak evergreen short-lived perennials and subshrubs with a sprawling habit, and they have small petunia-type flowers. They are found across much the same region of South America as petunias, from southern Brazil across to Peru and...

  • Capsicum
    Capsicum
    Capsicum is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. Its species are native to the Americas where they have been cultivated for thousands of years, but they are now also cultivated worldwide, used as spices, vegetables, and medicines - and have become are a key element in...

    Chili pepper
    Chili pepper
    Chili pepper is the fruit of plants from the genus Capsicum, members of the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The term in British English and in Australia, New Zealand, India, Malaysia and other Asian countries is just chilli without pepper.Chili peppers originated in the Americas...

    s
  • Cestrum
    Cestrum
    Cestrum is a genus of - depending on authority - 150-250 species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae. They are native to warm temperate to tropical regions of the Americas, from the southernmost United States south to the Bío-Bío Region in central Chile...

  • Chamaesaracha
    Chamaesaracha
    Chamaesaracha is a genus of perennial herbs in the nightshade family which are known commonly as five eyes. There are around nine species of five eyes, and they are native to the southwestern and western United States and parts of Mexico. These are hairy plants growing low to the ground and covered...

  • Combera
  • Crenidium
  • Cuatresia
  • Cyphanthera
    Cyphanthera
    Cyphanthera is a genus of shrubs in the family Solanaceae.The species, which are endemic to Australia, include:*Cyphanthera albicans Miers - Grey Ray Flower*Cyphanthera anthocercidea Haegi*Cyphanthera microphylla Miers...

  • Cyphomandra
    Cyphomandra
    Cyphomandra was a genus in the flowering plant family Solanaceae . It used to contain about 35 species native to countries of the Americas from Mexico southwards to Northern Argentina....

  • Datura
    Datura
    Datura is a genus of nine species of vespertine flowering plants belonging to the family Solanaceae. Its precise and natural distribution is uncertain, owing to its extensive cultivation and naturalization throughout the temperate and tropical regions of the globe...

    – Devil's Trumpet
  • Duboisia
    Duboisia
    Duboisia is a genus of small perennial shrubs to trees about 14 m tall, with extremely light wood and a thick corky bark. There are four species; all occur in Australia, and one also occurs in New Caledonia....

  • Exodeconus
  • Fabiana
  • Hyoscyamus
    Hyoscyamus
    Hyoscyamus is a small genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The eleven species it contains are known generally as the henbanes. All of them are toxic.-Selected species:* Hyoscyamus albus L. – White Henbane...

    Henbane
    Henbane
    Henbane , also known as stinking nightshade or black henbane, is a plant of the family Solanaceae that originated in Eurasia, though it is now globally distributed.-Toxicity and historical usage:...

  • Iochroma
    Iochroma
    Iochroma is a genus of about 34 species of shrubs and small trees found in the forests of South America. They range from Colombia to Argentina or when certain species are excluded from Colombia to Peru. Their hummingbird pollinated flowers are tubular or trumpet-shaped, and may be blue, purple,...

  • Jaltomata
  • Juanulloa
  • Latua
  • Leucophysalis
  • Lycianthes
    Lycianthes
    Lycianthes is a genus of plants from the nightshade family , found in both the Old World and the New World, but predominantly in the latter. It contains roughly 200 species, mostly from tropical America, with 35-40 species in Asia and the Pacific.-Characteristics:Lycianthes is apparently closely...

  • Lycium L.Boxthorn
    Boxthorn
    Boxthorn is a genus of the nightshade family , containing about 90 species of plants native throughout much of the temperate and subtropical zones of the world...

  • Lycopersicon
    Lycopersicon
    Lycopersicon was a genus in the flowering plant family Solanaceae . It contains 13 confirmed species in the tomato group of nightshades; a few others might also belong here. First removed from the genus Solanum by Philip Miller in 1754, its removal leaves the latter genus paraphyletic, so modern...

    (obsolete grouping)
  • Mandragora
    Mandrágora
    For other uses see Mandragora .La Mandrágora was a Chilean Surrealist group "officially founded" on 12 July 1938 by Braulio Arenas , Teófilo Cid and Enrique Gómez Correa . The group had met in Talca and first started exchanging in 1932...

    Mandrake
    Mandrake (plant)
    Mandrake is the common name for members of the plant genus Mandragora, particularly the species Mandragora officinarum, belonging to the nightshades family...

  • Mellissia
    Mellissia
    Mellissia is a genus in the family Solanaceae with a single species, Mellissia begoniifolia , that is endemic to the island of Saint Helena...

    – St. Elena boxwood
  • Methysticodendron
  • Nicandra
  • Nicotiana
    Nicotiana
    Nicotiana is a genus of herbs and shrubs of the nightshade family indigenous to North and South America, Australia, south west Africa and the South Pacific. Various Nicotiana species, commonly referred to as tobacco plants, are cultivated and grown to produce tobacco. Of all Nicotiana species,...

    Tobacco
    Tobacco
    Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as a pesticide and, in the form of nicotine tartrate, used in some medicines...

  • Nierembergia
    Nierembergia
    Nierembergia is a genus of plants in the Nightshade family. It is named after the Spanish Jesuit and mystic Juan Eusebio Nieremberg .-Species:* Nierembergia rivularis* Nierembergia scoparia...

    – Cupflower
  • Nolana
    Nolana
    Nolana is a genus of hard annual or perennial plants in the Nightshade family, which is native of costal areas in Chile and Peru.-Classification:...

  • Oryctes
    Oryctes (plant)
    Oryctes is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family containing the single species Oryctes nevadensis, which is known by the common name Nevada oryctes. This rare plant is native to a small area of desert straddling the California - Nevada border, where it grows in habitat with deep sand...

  • Petunia
    Petunia
    Petunia is a widely cultivated genus of flowering plants of South American origin, closely related with tobacco, cape gooseberries, tomatoes, deadly nightshades, potatoes and chili peppers; in the family Solanaceae. The popular flower derived its name from French, which took the word petun, meaning...

  • Physalis
    Physalis
    Physalis is a genus of plants in the nightshade family , native to warm temperate and subtropical regions throughout the world. The genus is characterised by the small orange fruit similar in size, shape and structure to a small tomato, but partly or fully enclosed in a large papery husk derived...

    – Cape gooseberry, Ground-cherry, Tomatillo
    Tomatillo
    The tomatillo is a plant of the nightshade family, related to the cape gooseberry, bearing small, spherical and green or green-purple fruit of the same name. Tomatillos are a staple in Mexican cuisine. Tomatillos are grown as annuals throughout the Western Hemisphere...

  • Physochlaina
  • Plowmania
  • Przewalskia
  • Quincula
    Quincula
    Quincula is a monotypic genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. The sole species it contains, Quincula lobata, is commonly known as Chinese Lantern, Lobed Groundcherry, or Purple Groundcherry. This plant is sometimes included in genus Physalis...

  • Salpichroa
  • Salpiglossis
    Salpiglossis
    Salpiglossis is a is a genus of the botanical family Solanaceae.Salpiglossis derives from the Greek for "trumpet" and "tongue" ....

  • Saracha
  • Schizanthus
    Schizanthus
    Schizanthus ,—common names butterfly flower, fringeflower, poor-man's-orchid—is a genus of plants in the Solanaceae family....

  • Schwenckia
  • Scopolia
    Scopolia
    Scopolia is a genus of five species of flowering plants in the family Solanaceae, native to Europe and Asia. The genus is named after Giovanni Scopoli , a Tyrolian naturalist....

  • Sessea
    Sessea
    Sessea is a genus of plant in family Solanaceae. It contains the following species :* Sessea sodiroi, Bitter...

  • Solandra
    Solandra
    Solandra is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. It is named after the Swedish naturalist Daniel C. Solander....

  • Solanum
    Solanum
    Solanum, the nightshades, horsenettles and relatives, is a large and diverse genus of annual and perennial plants. They grow as forbs, vines, subshrubs, shrubs, and small trees, and often have attractive fruit and flowers. Many formerly independent genera like Lycopersicon or Cyphomandra are...

    Tomato
    Tomato
    The word "tomato" may refer to the plant or the edible, typically red, fruit which it bears. Originating in South America, the tomato was spread around the world following the Spanish colonization of the Americas, and its many varieties are now widely grown, often in greenhouses in cooler...

    , Potato
    Potato
    The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Solanaceae family . The word potato may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species...

    , Eggplant, Kangaroo Apple
  • Streptosolen
  • Trechonaetes
  • Trianaea
    Trianaea
    Trianaea is a genus of plant in family Solanaceae. It contains the following species :* Trianaea bogotensis* Trianaea brevipes* Trianaea naeka, S.Knapp* Trianaea neovisae* Trianaea nobilis...

  • Vestia
    Vestia
    Vestia is a genus of air-breathing land snails, terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusks in the family Clausiliidae, the door snails, all of which have a clausilium.-Species:Species within the genus Vestia include:* Vestia gulo...

  • Withania
    Withania
    Withania is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.-Etymology:Withania Pauquy, Diss. Bellad. 14 Withania is a genus of flowering plants in the nightshade family, Solanaceae.-Etymology:Withania Pauquy, Diss. Bellad. 14 (1825) Withania is a genus of flowering plants in the...


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