What we grow - Biodiversity



Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.) is a dicotyledonous angiosperm plant belonging to the Solanaceae family, cultivated for its edible fruit. Eggplant was imported to the Middle East and the Mediterranean basin in the 7th century and therefore does not have a Latin or Greek name. In Italy it was initially called “petonciana” or also “petronciano”. To avoid misunderstandings about its properties, the first part of the name was changed to “mela” (“Apple”) thus giving rise to the term “melangiana” and then “melanzana”, also popularly interpreted as “mela non sana” (“Unhealthy apple”), precisely because it is not edible raw. From the Arabic form with the article (Al-bādhingiān) derive the Catalan (Albergínia), French, German and English British (Aubergine), Spanish (Berenjena, alberengena), Portuguese (Bringella, bringiela, beringela) forms. The names in use in American English-speaking countries (Eggplant = egg-plant) were originally applied to white cultivars, which closely resemble chicken eggs. The first mention of the word “eggplant” in a written text dates back to 1763, while similar names are widespread in other languages, such as Icelandic (Eggaldin). Originally from India, there are countless documents that demonstrate the cultivation of eggplant in the area of ​​Southeast Asia (The first written reference to the eggplant is found in the “Qimin Yaoshu”, an ancient Chinese agricultural treatise completed in 544 AD) since prehistoric times, while in Europe it was practically unknown until the sixteenth century, therefore, 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 in the early Middle Ages. One of the first references to Europe is in fact found in an agricultural treatise by Ibn Al-Awwam, agronomist of Arab Spain from the 12th century, with late medieval evidence also in Spanish and Catalan.


The eggplant is a herbaceous plant, erect, height 30-100 centimeters. The large, solitary flowers are purplish or even white. The fruits are large, elongated or round berries, usually black, edible after cooking. The red eggplant (Fruity orange-red pulp and slightly spicy flavor, belonging to another species) is a relative plant of potatoes with a similar appearance to the eggplant but its rounded fruit is colored deep red like a tomato, so much so that it is mistaken for the latter. The white aubergine has fruits of an unusual white color and moderate size, rich in antioxidants, probably originating from the Anatolian peninsula. There is also a white eggplant variety with thorns and a white eggplant variety with pink shade (With few seeds).


Raw eggplant has a bitter taste that is diluted with cooking, making it more digestible, enhancing its flavor. It has the property of absorbing food fats very well, including oil, allowing the preparation of very rich and tasty dishes. Solanine degrades completely at very high temperatures (About 243°C) with a content of 9-13 mg/100 g of fresh weight, well below the amount considered acceptable for other types of vegetables (20-25 mg/100 g of fresh weight). Source of fiber, it is ideal in case of constipation: in fact, mild laxative properties are attributed to the eggplant. Furthermore, it is recommended in diets in case of anemia, atherosclerosis, oliguria (Hypouresis) and gout. Also known are the purifying, diuretic and anti-inflammatory virtues.


The eggplant requires climates that are not excessively cold, requiring a climate that is neither too cold, nor too humid and windy. In any case, growth stops when the temperature drops below 12°C. Furthermore, it should be grown in fertile and well-drained soils, in a sunny but sheltered position. The fruits are harvested from late July to mid-October (Depending on the cultivar and the area of cultivation).