eggplant, name for Solanum melongena, a large-leaved woody perennial shrub (often grown as an annual herb) of the family Solanaceae (nightshade family), and also cultivated for its ovoid fruit. Native to SE Asia, the eggplant is raised in tropical and (as an annual) in warm climates as a garden vegetable and is a staple in parts of the Middle East. The fruit (a berry, like its relative the tomato) varies in size and may be black, purple, white, or striped. Eggplants are classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Polemoniales, family Solanaceae.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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