Home Tropical Plants Porcupine Tomato (Solanum Pyracanthum): A Guide to Growing and Caring for This Unique Tropical Plant

Porcupine Tomato (Solanum Pyracanthum): A Guide to Growing and Caring for This Unique Tropical Plant

by Gregory
3 minutes read

All About the Porcupine Tomato: A Unique Tropical Plant


Get ready to meet a plant that will turn heads! The porcupine tomato, also known as devil’s thorn, is a fascinating tropical plant that’s sure to spark your curiosity.

What is Solanum Pyracanthum?

Solanum pyracanthum is the scientific name for the porcupine tomato. It belongs to the same family as tomatoes, the Solanaceae family. While it shares some similarities with tomatoes, the porcupine tomato has some distinctive features that set it apart.

Origin and Distribution

Originally from Madagascar, the porcupine tomato was introduced to the United States. However, it hasn’t become invasive because it reproduces slowly and birds don’t spread its seeds.

Unique Characteristics

The porcupine tomato is famous for its unusual appearance. Its fuzzy gray leaves are adorned with bright, red-orange thorns that grow straight up. These thorns are not just for show; they’re one of the plant’s most striking features.

In addition to its thorns, the porcupine tomato produces lavender flowers that resemble other Solanum family members. Each petal has a distinctive white stripe running from the tip to the base.

Caution: Toxic Plant

It’s important to note that all parts of the porcupine tomato plant, including the leaves, flowers, and fruit, are poisonous. They contain toxic alkaloids that can be harmful if ingested.

Growing Porcupine Tomatoes

Growing a porcupine tomato is relatively easy, but it requires warm temperatures. It thrives in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Planting and Spacing

Choose a location with full sun or partial shade and well-drained soil. Amend the soil with plenty of compost before planting. Space the plants about 3 feet apart to give them room to grow.

Container Growing

Porcupine tomatoes can also be grown in containers. Choose a container that holds at least 5 gallons of soil with a high organic content.

Porcupine Tomato Plant Care


Water porcupine tomato plants regularly to keep the soil moist. Water deeply and slowly, allowing the water to penetrate the soil. Avoid overwatering, especially in containers.


Fertilize plants grown in the ground with a slow-release fertilizer or compost in spring. For container-grown plants, use a liquid fertilizer designed for flowering houseplants throughout spring and summer.

Other Care Tips

  • Prune dead or damaged leaves and stems as needed.
  • Protect plants from frost and cold temperatures.
  • Avoid planting near areas where children or pets may come into contact with the poisonous plant.


The porcupine tomato is a unique and captivating tropical plant that adds a touch of the exotic to any garden or home. By understanding its characteristics, growing requirements, and potential hazards, you can enjoy this fascinating plant safely and responsibly.

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