The aubergine (Solanum melongena L.) is a species of the Solanaceae family, widely cultivated in horticulture for its fruit.
From a systematic point of view it belongs to the Eukaryota Domain, Kingdom Plantae, Magnoliophyta Division, Magnoliopsida Class, Order Solanales, Family Solanaceae and then to the Genus Solanum and to the Species S. melongena.
The term Solanaceae derives from sólor = consolare, alleviate, soothe: for the medicinal properties of some plants of this genus. The specific melongena epithet comes from the Greek μῆλον = mélon pomo, fruit and from γεννάω gennáo = to generate, to produce: therefore a plant that produces rounded fruit.
Geographic Distribution and Habitat –
The Solanum melongena is an annual species of origin of the Asian continent and more precisely from India, even if there are innumerable documents that demonstrate the cultivation of aubergines in the area of Southeast Asia since prehistoric times; it was later imported into the Middle East and arrived in the Mediterranean around the 7th century. The spread in Europe of names derived from Arabic and above all the lack of names of Latin and Greek origin indicate that it was brought to the Mediterranean area by the Arabs at the beginning of the Middle Ages.
The aubergine is an erect herbaceous plant, which can reach a height varying between 30 cm and one meter, with large, solitary, violet or white flowers. The fruits are rather large, elongated or round berries, normally black, but also white, edible only after cooking. This species is characterized by many varieties, among which we mention: Palermitan long violet, with dark purple elongated fruit; Long violin of the farmhouses with violet fruit; Early dwarf violet with small fruit; Aubergine from Murcia with thorny leaves and stem, violet fruit, round; Monstrous New York with huge violet fruit and Tonda comune di Firenze, with pale violet fruit, hybrid, with few seeds, tender and compact pulp.
Solanum melongena is a plant cultivated in many countries; among these the major producers in order of importance are China, India and Iran. In Europe, the main producers are Italy, Spain and Romania. For the cultivation technique you can consult the following form.
Customs and Traditions –
The eggplant is native to India although there are countless documents that demonstrate the cultivation of this plant in the area of Southeast Asia since prehistoric times. It seems that in Europe it was practically unknown until the sixteenth century. The first written reference to the eggplant is found in Qimin Yaoshu, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544. The spread in Europe of names derived from Arabic and the lack of ancient Latin and Greek names indicate that it was brought to the Mediterranean area by the Arabs. at the beginning of the Middle Ages. In fact, one of the first references to Europe is found in an agricultural treatise by Ibn Al-Awwam, agronomist of Arab Spain of the 12th century and there is also late medieval evidence in Spanish and Catalan.
Solanum melongena was initially called Petonciana or also Petronciano in Italy; to avoid misunderstandings about its properties, subsequently the first part of the name was changed into apple thus giving rise to the term melangiana and then aubergine, a term also interpreted by the people as an unhealthy apple, because it is not edible when raw. The Catalan (albergínia) and French (aubergine) terms derive from the Arabic language (with the article, al-Badingian). Raw eggplant has a bitter taste that decreases with cooking, which also makes it more digestible, enhancing its flavor. For this reason the aubergine is preferably eaten cooked. As for other solanaceae, cooking does not completely eliminate solanine (degradation temperature at about 243 ° C) but the content in the aubergine is well below the quantity considered acceptable for vegetables (20-25 mg / 100 g of weight fresh).
The aubergine has the property of absorbing food fats very well, including oil, allowing the preparation of very rich and tasty dishes. For these reasons the aubergine is preferably consumed cooked.
Although it is a plant that is cultivated for its food use, it also finds application in the medicinal field that make it a valuable addition to the diet. In particular, the fruit helps to lower blood cholesterol levels and is indicated as part of a diet to help regulate high blood pressure.
In some areas the heated paste of the fruit is applied to the aching joints.
The fruit is antihemorrhoidal and hypotensive and is also used as an antidote in case of ingestion of poisonous mushrooms.
It is made into a pulp with vinegar and used as a poultice for abscesses, hemorrhoids, etc.
The leaves are narcotic.
A decoction is applied for internal sores and bleeding.
From the leaves a soothing and emollient poultice can be obtained for the treatment of burns, abscesses, cold sores, hemorrhoids and similar conditions.
Remember, however, that the leaves are toxic and should only be used externally.
Peduncle ashes are used in the treatment of intestinal bleeding, hemorrhoids and toothache.
A decoction made from the roots is anti-asthmatic, astringent and general stimulant. It turns into powder and is applied both internally and externally as a remedy in cases of bleeding.
The juice of the root is used in the treatment of ear infections and toothache.
Preparation Mode –
The aubergines are eaten fried, baked or grilled or preserved in oil or in vinegar; some typical preparations are strongly influenced by local culinary traditions; these include the aubergine parmigiana, the moussaka, the ratatouille, the pasta alla Norma and the caponata.
– Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
– Treben M., 2000. Health from the Pharmacy of the Lord, Advice and experience with medicinal herbs, Ennsthaler Publisher
– Pignatti S., 1982. Flora of Italy, Edagricole, Bologna.
– Conti F., Abbate G., Alessandrini A., Blasi C. (edited by), 2005. An annotated checklist of the Italian vascular flora, Palombi Editore.
Warning: Pharmaceutical applications and alimurgical uses are indicated for informational purposes only and do not in any way represent a medical prescription; there is therefore no liability for their use for curative, aesthetic or food purposes.