Solanaceae are a family of flowering plants that includes a number of important agricultural crops. Although many species are toxic plants, some are edible and healthy. The family is also informally known as the nightshade or potato family. The name of the family comes from the Latin Solanum 'the nightshade plant', but the further etymology of that word is unclear. Most likely, the name comes from the perceived resemblance that some of the flowers bear to the sun and its rays, and in fact a species of Solanum (Solanum nigrum) is known as the 'sunberry'. Alternatively, the name has been suggested to originate from the Latin verb solari, meaning 'to soothe'. This presumably refers to soothing pharmacological properties of some of the psychoactive species of the family.
Contributions by Tom Hulse, Kingdon, and 126.96.36.199.