Eggplant (Solanum melongena var. esculentum), or aubergine, perennial herbaceous plant of the nightshade family.
Eggplant (Solanum melongena var. esculentum), or aubergine, perennial herbaceous plant of the nightshade family. The genus contains about 1500 tropical and temperate climate species; one wild and 5 cultivated species occur in Canada. Native to southwest Asia, eggplant was derived from a wild species with egg-shaped fruits. Plants are either bushy or upright, 45-100 cm tall; flowers (2-4 cm across) are purple and usually occur singly. Fruits (20-25 cm long) are a glossy purplish black with a green calyx. A long-season crop, eggplants require a greenhouse or hotbed start of 9-10 weeks and reach maturity 55-80 days after transplanting. Insect pests are fleas and Colorado potato beetles; plant diseases, Verticillium and bacterial wilts. Eggplants are comparable to tomatoes in nutrition but have better shelf life. Eggplants are a low-hectarage commercial crop in Canada but are grown in gardens across the country.