Eggplant / Aubergine / Melongene / Brinjal
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Solanales
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Solanum
Species: S. melongena
Binomial name
Solanum melongena

Solanum ovigerum Dunal
Solanum trongum Poir.
and see text

The eggplant, aubergine, melongene, brinjal or guinea squash (Solanum melongena) is a plant of the family Solanaceae (also known as the nightshades) and genus Solanum. It bears a fruit of the same name, commonly used in cooking. As a nightshade, it is closely related to the tomato and potato and is native to India.[1][2]

It is a delicate perennial often cultivated as an annual. It grows 40 to 150 cm (16 to 57 in) tall, with large coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (4–8 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2–4 in) broad. Semiwild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7 ft) with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (6 in) broad. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The fruit is fleshy, has a meaty texture, and is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter on wild plants, but much larger in cultivated forms.

The fruit is botanically classified as a berry, and contains numerous small, soft seeds, which are edible, but have a bitter taste because they contain nicotinoid alkaloids; this is unsurprising as it is a close relative of tobacco.



Solanum melongena, flower

The plant is native to the Indian subcontinent.[1][2] It has been cultivated in southern and eastern Asia since prehistory,[citation needed] but appears to have become known to the Western world no earlier than ca. 1500. The first known written record of the plant is found in Qí mín yào shù, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544.[3] The numerous Arabic and North African names for it, along with the lack of the ancient Greek and Roman names, indicate it was introduced throughout the Mediterranean area by the Arabs in the early Middle Ages. The scientific name Solanum melongena is derived from a 16th century Arabic term for one variety.

The name aubergine is from the French, a diminutive of auberge, variant of alberge ‘a kind of peach’ or from the Spanish alberchigo, alverchiga, ‘an apricocke’ (Minsheu 1623).[4] It may be also be derived from Catalan albergínia, from Arabic al-baðinjān from Persian bâdenjân, from Sanskrit vātiga-gama).

Aubergine is also the name of the purple color resembling that of the fruit[4] and is a commonly known color scheme[5] applied to articles as diverse as cloth or bathroom suites.

The name eggplant, rather than aubergine, is used in the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, and refers to the fruits of some 18th century European cultivars which were yellow or white and resembled goose or hen's eggs.[citation needed]

In Indian, South African, Malaysian and Singaporean English, the fruit is known as a "vengan", "baingan" or brinjal, with the latter being derived directly from the Portuguese beringela. A less common British English word is melongene, which is also from French (derived) from Italian "melanzana" from Greek "μελιτζάνα". In the Caribbean Trinidad, it also goes by "meloongen" from melongene.

Because of the plant's relationship with the Solanaceae (nightshade) family, the fruit was at one time believed to be extremely poisonous.

Cultivated varieties

Three varieties of eggplant
In Thai cuisine small and round varieties are preferred.

Different varieties of the plant produce fruit of different size, shape and color, though typically purple. There are even orange varieties.

The most widely cultivated varieties (cultivars) in Europe and North America today are elongated ovoid, 12–25 cm long (4½ to 9 in) and 6–9 cm broad (2 to 4 in) in a dark purple skin.

A much wider range of shapes, sizes and colors is grown in India and elsewhere in Asia. Larger varieties weighing up to a kilogram (2.2 pounds) grow in the region between the Ganges and Yamuna rivers, while smaller varieties are found elsewhere. Colors vary from white to yellow or green as well as reddish-purple and dark purple. Some cultivars have a color gradient, from white at the stem to bright pink to deep purple or even black. Green or purple cultivars in white striping also exist. Chinese varieties are commonly shaped like a narrower, slightly pendulous cucumber, and were sometimes called Japanese eggplants in North America.

Oval or elongated oval-shaped and black-skinned cultivars include Harris Special Hibush, Burpee Hybrid, Black Magic, Classic, Dusky, and Black Beauty. Slim cultivars in purple-black skin include Little Fingers, Ichiban, Pingtung Long, and Tycoon; in green skin Louisiana Long Green and Thai (Long) Green; in white skin Dourga. Traditional, white-skinned, egg-shaped cultivars include Casper and Easter Egg. Bicolored cultivars with color gradient include Rosa Bianca, Violetta di Firenze, Bianca Smufata di Rosa (heirloom), and Prosperosa (heirloom). Bicolored cultivars in striping include Listada de Gandia and Udumalapet. In some parts of India, miniature varieties (most commonly called vengan) are popular. A particular variety of green brinjal known as Matti Gulla is grown in Matti village of Udupi district in Karnataka state in India.


The raw fruit can have a somewhat bitter taste, but becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor. Traditionally, recipes would advise the salting, rinsing and draining of the sliced fruit (known as "degorging") to soften it and to reduce the amount of fat absorbed during cooking, but mainly to remove the bitterness of the earlier cultivars. Some modern varieties - including those large, purple varieties commonly imported into western Europe - do not need this treatment. The fruit is capable of absorbing large amounts of cooking fats and sauces, allowing for very rich dishes, but the salting process will reduce the amount of oil absorbed. The fruit flesh is smooth; as in the related tomato, the numerous seeds are soft and edible along with the rest of the fruit. The thin skin is also edible, so peeling is not required.

Melanzane alla Parmigiana, or Eggplant Parmesan

The plant is used in cuisines from Japan to Spain. It is often stewed, as in the French ratatouille, the Italian parmigiana di melanzane, the Turkish musakka, and Middle-Eastern and South Asian dishes. Eggplants can also be battered before deep-frying and served with a sauce made of tahini and tamarind. In Iranian cuisine, it can be blended with whey as kashk e-bademjan, tomatoes as mirza ghasemi or made into stew as khoresh-e-bademjan. It can be sliced and deep-fried, then served with plain yoghurt, (optionally) topped with a tomato and garlic sauce, such as in the Turkish dish patlıcan kızartması or without yoghurt as in patlıcan şakşuka. However, arguably the most famous Turkish eggplant dish is İmam bayıldı.

It may also be roasted in its skin until charred, so the pulp can be removed and blended with other ingredients, such as lemon, tahini, and garlic, as in the Middle Eastern dish baba ghanoush and the similar Greek dish melitzanosalata. Grilled, mashed and mixed with onions, tomatoes and spices make the Indian dish baingan ka Bhartha or gojju, similar to salată de vinete in Romania, while a mix of roasted eggplant, roasted red peppers, chopped onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, carrots, celery and spices is called zacuscă in Romania or ajvar in Serbia and the Balkans.

The fruit can also be stuffed with meat, rice, or other fillings and then baked. In the Caucasus, for example, it is fried and stuffed with walnut paste to make nigvziani badrijani. It can also be found in Chinese cuisine, braised (紅燒茄子), stewed (魚香茄子), steamed (凉拌茄子), or stuffed (釀茄子).

In Japanese cuisine, eggplant is eaten as pickle in defferent way.

As a native plant, it is widely used in Indian cuisine, for example in sambhar, dalma (a dal preparation with vegetables, native to Orissa), chutney, curry, and achaar. Owing to its versatile nature and wide use in both everyday and festive Indian food, it is often described (under the name brinjal) as the 'King of Vegetables'. In one dish, brinjal is stuffed with ground coconut, peanuts, and masala, and then cooked in oil.


Worldwide eggplant production
Eggplants being sorted just after harvest

In tropical and subtropical climates, eggplant can be sown directly into the garden. Eggplant grown in temperate climates fares better when transplanted into the garden after all danger of frost is passed. Seeds are typically started eight to ten weeks prior to the anticipated frost-free date.

Many pests and diseases which afflict other solanaceous plants, such as tomato, pepper (capsicum), and potato, are also troublesome to eggplants. For this reason, it should not be planted in areas previously occupied by its close relatives. Four years should separate successive crops of eggplants. Common North American pests include the potato beetles, flea beetles, aphids, and spider mites. (Adults can be removed by hand, though flea beetles can be especially difficult to control.) Good sanitation and crop rotation practices are extremely important for controlling fungal disease, the most serious of which is Verticillium.

Spacing should be 45 cm (18 in.) to 60 cm (24 in.) between plants, depending on cultivar, and 60 cm to 90 cm (24 to 36 in.) between rows, depending on the type of cultivation equipment being used. Mulching will help conserve moisture and prevent weeds and fungal diseases. The flowers are relatively unattractive to bees and the first blossoms often do not set fruit. Hand pollination will improve the set of the first blossoms. Fruits are typically cut from the vine just above the calyx owing to the somewhat woody stems. Flowers are complete, containing both female and male structures, and may be self pollinated or cross pollinated.[6]


A purple eggplant which has been sliced in half, showing the inside, the flesh surrounding the seeds is already beginning to oxidize and will turn brown just minutes after slicing.

Production of eggplant is highly concentrated, with 85 percent of output coming from five countries. China is the top producer (56% of world output) and India is second (26%); Egypt, Turkey and Indonesia round out the top producing nations. More than 4 million acres (2,043,788 hectares) are devoted to the cultivation of eggplant in the world.[7] In the United States, Georgia is the largest producing state.[8]

Top ten eggplant/aubergine producers — 2009
Country Production (Tonnes) Footnote
 People's Republic of China 19 026 154 F
 India 10 378 000
 Egypt 1 250 000 F
 Turkey 816 134
 Indonesia 449 997 F
 Iraq 396 155 F
 Japan 349 200 F
 Italy 245 300
 Philippines 200 942
 Spain 175 000 F
 World 35 326 379 A
No symbol = official figure, P = official figure, F = FAO estimate, * = Unofficial/Semi-official/mirror data, C = Calculated figure A = Aggregate (may include official, semi-official or estimates);

Source: Food And Agricultural Organization of United Nations: Economic And Social Department: The Statistical Division[not in citation given]

Health properties

Eggplant, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 102 kJ (24 kcal)
Carbohydrates 5.7 g
- Sugars 2.35 g
- Dietary fiber 3.4 g
Fat 0.19 g
Protein 1.01 g
Thiamine (vit. B1) 0.039 mg (3%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.037 mg (3%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 0.649 mg (4%)
Pantothenic acid (B5) 0.281 mg (6%)
Vitamin B6 0.084 mg (6%)
Folate (vit. B9) 22 μg (6%)
Vitamin C 2.2 mg (3%)
Calcium 9 mg (1%)
Iron 0.24 mg (2%)
Magnesium 14 mg (4%)
Manganese 0.25 mg (12%)
Phosphorus 25 mg (4%)
Potassium 230 mg (5%)
Zinc 0.16 mg (2%)
Percentages are relative to US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Studies of the Institute of Biology of São Paulo State University, Brazil, have shown eggplant is effective in the treatment of high blood cholesterol.[citation needed] Another study from Heart Institute of the University of São Paulo found no effects at all and does not recommend eggplant as a replacement to statins.[9]

It helps to block the formation of free radicals and is also a source of folic acid and potassium.[10]

Eggplant is richer in nicotine than any other edible plant, with a concentration of 100 ng/g (or 0.01 mg/100g). However, the amount of nicotine from eggplant or any other food is negligible compared to passive smoking.[11] On average, 20 lbs (9 kg) of eggplant contains about the same amount of nicotine as a cigarette.


Case reports of itchy skin and/or mouth after handling and/or eating eggplant have been reported anecdotally and published in medical journals (see also oral allergy syndrome). A recent (2008) study of a sample of 741 people in India (where eggplant is commonly consumed) found nearly 10% reported some allergic symptoms after consuming eggplant, while 1.4% showed symptoms in less than 2 hours.[12] Contact dermatitis from eggplant leaves[13] and allergy to eggplant flower pollen[14] have also been reported. Individuals who are atopic (genetically predisposed to hypersensitivity, such as hayfever) are more likely to have a reaction to eggplant, which may be because eggplant is high in histamines. A few proteins and at least one secondary metabolite have been identified as potential allergens.[15] Cooking eggplant thoroughly seems to preclude reactions in some individuals, but at least one of the allergenic proteins survives the cooking process.


  • Solanum melongena var. esculentum common eggplant, with many cultivars[16]
  • Solanum melongena var. depressum dwarf eggplant
  • Solanum melongena var. serpentium snake eggplant

Genetically engineered variety

Bt brinjal is a transgenic eggplant which has a gene from the soil bacterium Bacillus thuringiensis inserted into it. This variety was designed to give the plant resistance against lepidopteran insects like the brinjal fruit and shoot borer (Leucinodes orbonalis) and fruit borer (Helicoverpa armigera).[17]

On 9 February 2010, the Indian Environment Minister, Jairam Ramesh, imposed a moratorium on the cultivation of Bt brinjal.[18] His decision was made after protest from several groups responding to regulatory approval of the cultivation of Bt brinjal in October, 2009. Ramesh stated the moratorium will last "for as long as it is needed to establish public trust and confidence".


The eggplant is quite often featured in the older scientific literature under the junior synonyms S. ovigerum and S. trongum. A list of other now-invalid names have been uniquely applied to it:[19]

  • Melongena ovata Mill.
  • Solanum album Noronha
  • Solanum insanum L.
  • Solanum longum Roxb.
  • Solanum melanocarpum Dunal
  • Solanum melongenum St.-Lag.
  • Solanum oviferum Salisb.

A number of subspecies and varieties have been named, mainly by Dikii, Dunal, and (invalidly) by Sweet. Names for various eggplant types, such as agreste, album, divaricatum, esculentum, giganteum, globosi, inerme, insanum, leucoum, luteum, multifidum, oblongo-cylindricum, ovigera, racemiflorum, racemosum, ruber, rumphii, sinuatorepandum, stenoleucum, subrepandum, tongdongense, variegatum, violaceum and viride, are not considered to refer to anything more than cultivar groups at best. On the other hand, Solanum incanum and cockroach berry (S. capsicoides), other eggplant-like nightshades described by Linnaeus and Allioni respectively, were occasionally considered eggplant varieties, but this is not correct.[19]

The eggplant has a long history of taxonomic confusion with the scarlet and Ethiopian eggplants, known as gilo and nakati and described by Linnaeus as S. aethiopicum. The eggplant was sometimes considered a variety violaceum of that species. S. violaceum of de Candolle applies to Linnaeus' S. aethiopicum. There is an actual S. violaceum, an unrelated plant described by Ortega, which used to include Dunal's S. amblymerum and was often confused with the same author's S. brownii.[19]

Like the potato and Solanum lichtensteinii—but unlike the tomato which then was generally put in a different genus—the eggplant was also described as S. esculentum, in this case once more in the course of Dunal's work. He also recognized varieties aculeatum, inerme and subinerme at that time. Similarly, H.C.F. Schuhmacher and Peter Thonning named the eggplant as S. edule, which is also a junior synonym of sticky nightshade (S. sisymbriifolium). Scopoli's S. zeylanicum refers to the eggplant, and that of Blanco to S. lasiocarpum.[19]


See also


  1. ^ a b Tsao and Lo in "Vegetables: Types and Biology". Handbook of Food Science, Technology, and Engineering by Yiu H. Hui (2006). CRC Press. ISBN 1574445510.
  2. ^ a b Doijode, S. D. (2001). Seed storage of horticultural crops (pp 157). Haworth Press: ISBN 1560229012
  3. ^ Fuchsia Dunlop (2006), Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province, Ebury Press, pp. 202 
  4. ^ a b
  5. ^
  6. ^ Westerfield, Robert (2008-11-14). "Pollination of Vegetable Crops" (pdf). Retrieved 2009-07-01. 
  7. ^ "FAOSTAT". FAO. 2008-11-11. Retrieved 2007-04-24. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ Juliana Marchiori Praça, Andréa Thomaz, Bruno Caramelli. "Eggplant (Solanum melongena) Extract Does Not Alter Serum Lipid Levels". Arq Bras Cardiol, volume 82 (nº 3), 273–6, 2004.
  10. ^ – Aubergine
  11. ^ Edward F. Domino, Erich Hornbach, Tsenge Demana, The Nicotine Content of Common Vegetables, The New England Journal of Medicine, Volume 329:437 August 5, 1993 Number 6
  12. ^ B. N. Harish Babu * , P. A. Mahesh † and Y. P. Venkatesh * A cross-sectional study on the prevalence of food allergy to eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) reveals female predominance. Clinical & Experimental Allergy 38(11):1795–1802, 2008
  13. ^ Kabashima K, Miyachi Y. Contact dermatitis due to eggplant Contact Dermatitis 2004;50(2):101–102
  14. ^ Gerth van Wijk R, Toorenenbergen AW, Dieges PH. Occupational pollinosis in commercial gardeners. [Dutch] Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 1989;133(42):2081-3
  15. ^ SN Pramod,* YP Venkatesh. Allergy to Eggplant (Solanum melongena) Caused by a Putative Secondary Metabolite. J Investig Allergol Clin Immunol 2008; Vol. 18(1): 59–62
  16. ^ Family: Solanaceae, Genus: Solanum, Species: melongena var. esculentum PlantFiles
  17. ^ Briefing Paper on Bt brinjal Centre for Sustainable Agriculture
  18. ^ "India says no to first GM food crop". Agence France-Presse (AFP) (New Delhi). 9 February 2010. 
  19. ^ a b c d Solanaceae Source [2008]


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • eggplant — egg plant , egg plant egg plant, n. 1. (Bot.) A plant ({Solanum Melongena}), of East Indian origin, allied to the tomato, and bearing a large, glossy, edible fruit, shaped somewhat like an egg; mad apple. It is widely cultivated for its fruit,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • eggplant — 1767, from EGG (Cf. egg) (n.) + PLANT (Cf. plant) (n.). Originally of the white variety. Cf. AUBERGINE (Cf. aubergine) …   Etymology dictionary

  • eggplant — [eg′plant΄] n. 1. a perennial plant (Solanum melongena) of the nightshade family, with large, ovoid, usually purple skinned fruits that are eaten as a vegetable 2. the fruit …   English World dictionary

  • eggplant — /eg plant , plahnt /, n. 1. a plant, Solanum melongena esculentum, of the nightshade family, cultivated for its edible, dark purple or occasionally white or yellow fruit. 2. the fruit of this plant used as a table vegetable. 3. a blackish purple… …   Universalium

  • eggplant — paprastasis baklažanas statusas T sritis vardynas apibrėžtis Bulvinių šeimos daržovinis, vaistinis nuodingas kultūrinis augalas (Solanum melongena), kilęs iš Azijos. atitikmenys: lot. Solanum melongena angl. aubergine; brinjal eggplant; brinjall; …   Lithuanian dictionary (lietuvių žodynas)

  • eggplant — UK [ˈeɡˌplɑːnt] / US [ˈeɡˌplænt] noun [countable/uncountable] Word forms eggplant : singular eggplant plural eggplants American an aubergine …   English dictionary

  • eggplant — noun Date: 1767 1. a. a widely cultivated perennial Asian herb (Solanum melongena) of the nightshade family yielding edible fruit b. the usually smooth ovoid typically blackish purple or white fruit of the eggplant 2. a dark grayish or blackish… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • eggplant — noun a) Solanum melongena Why am I not surprised? This was the limit. You know, Im black enough for his family to yell eggplant this and nigger that at me, she said. b) Aubergine, the edible fruit of the Solanum melongena. Syn: aubergine, brinjal …   Wiktionary

  • eggplant — [[t]e̱gplɑːnt, plænt[/t]] eggplants N VAR An eggplant is a vegetable with a smooth, dark purple skin. [AM] (in BRIT, use aubergine) …   English dictionary

  • eggplant — n. plant of East Indian origin that bears an edible fruit; dark purple egg shaped fruit of the eggplant (eaten as a vegetable); dark purple color …   English contemporary dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.