Excerpts from Jim Conrad's
Naturalist Newsletter

Titty Fruit, SOLANUM MAMMOSUM

from the February 6, 2011 Newsletter issued from Hacienda Chichen Resort beside Chichén Itzá Ruins, central Yucatán, MÉXICO
TITTY FRUIT

Several times I'd biked by the stonewall-encircled, little thatch-roofed hut in Pisté, hoping to see someone outside it. This time there was, the señora hanging laundry. So I asked her if I could take a picture of the crazy-looking fruit on the knee-high, straggly, spiny-leafed plant next to her hut. She seemed tickled that I'd be interested, so the picture now graces the top of this page.

Titty Fruit is one of many names this semi-woody perennial goes by. Also Nipplefruit, Cow's Udder, Apple of Sodom, and others. Just looking at the fruit obviously stirs the imagination. It's SOLANUM MAMMOSUM, a member of the Black Nightshade or Tomato Family, and it's fairly closely related to the Tomato -- though its fruit is poisonous. It's native to South America but has escaped cultivation in much of tropical America and probably other tropical countries as well.

Since it's not native to our area the Maya don't recognize uses for it other than as a curiosity, and it's true that the Maya enjoy growing unusual plants and animals. Other cultures, however, have been documented using Titty Fruit for athlete's foot, irritability and restlessness, plus sometimes juice from the fruit can be lathered up and used as a detergent.