Scientific findings about Jerusalem cherry


The scientific name of the Jerusalem cherry or Christmas cherry is Solanum pseudo-capsicum Linn.

Scientific names Common names
Solanum pseudo-capsicum Linn. False capsicum (Engl.)
Solanum diflorum Vell. Jerusalem cherry (Engl.)
Solanum dunnianum H.Lev. Madeira winter cherry (Engl.)
Solanum eremanthum Dunal Christmas cherry (Engl.)
Solanum hygrophilum Schltdl. Coral bush (Engl.)
Solanum ipecacuanha Chodat
Solanum mexiae Standl.
Solanum validum Rusby
Solanum pseudocapsicum L. is an accepted name.
Other vernacular names
AFRIKAANS: Jerusalemkersie.
CHINESE: Shan hu yin.
GERMAN: Falsche Jerusalemkirsche, Korallenstrauch.
SWEDISH: Korallbär.

Jerusalem cherry is an erect, branched and non-spiny shrub growing to a height of one meter. Leaves are alternate, oblong to lanceolate, up to 10 centimeters long, wavy, glossy green above. Flowers are nodal, white and solitary. Fruit is globose, yellow or reddish, up to 1 centimeter in diameter.


– The roots yielded a high percentage of fatty acids with 41 compounds; the dominant compound was hexadecanoic acid (24.1%).

– Phytochemical studies have yielded alkaloids, glycosides, tannins and flavonoids.

– Berries contain substantial amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen.

– Analysis of berries yielded 25 components, constituting 99.8% of extract composition. The major components were alkaloids (38.55%), hydrocarbons (22.18%), fatty acid (19.38%), alcohol (13.27%), and carboxylic derivatives (3.73%). Mineral nutrient analysis yielded substantial amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen. (see study)

– Study of essential oil of unripe berries yielded twenty-one compounds, constituting 69.24% of total oil components. Major compounds were homologous series of alkanes, alcohol, aldehyde and terpenoids. The dominant components were decane (41.06%), undecane (29.26%), monoterpenoids (14.79%), sesquiterpene (3.21%) and a diterpene phytol (5.94%). (see study)


Antimicrobial, antiviral, antispasmodic, antihypertensive, antioxidant and hepatoprotective.

Caution / Toxicity concerns


Considered a poisonous plant. The poisonous ingredient has reported as solanocapsine, found throughout the Jerusalem cherry plant, but especially in the unripened fruit and leaves. Symptoms of poisoning include coma, delirium, diarrhea, drowsiness, dilated pupils, hallucinations, headache, low blood pressure, slow breathing, slow pulse, stomach pains, and vomiting. (see study)

– Studies have implicated the berries in causing central anticholinergic syndrome characterized by thought impairment, recent memory disturbance, hallucinations, hyperpyrexia, ataxia, drowsiness, tachycardia, coma among others. Extract studies were predominated by alkaloids (38.55%). Other plant components detected were aramines, phentamins, dopamine, fluoxotine and amphetamine derivatives – potent psychostimulant in humans. Many of the compounds have pharmacological and toxicological importance in humans and the berries present of source of raw materials for drug development. (Research Paper)

Parts used

Bark, fruit, leaves and seeds.


– In India, used in homeopathy medicine to treat acute lower abdominal pain and somnolence.

– In South Africa, reported topical use for treatment of boils and gonorrhea; orally, as a male tonic and for abdominal pain.

Scientific studies on Jerusalem Cherry

Cytotoxicity / O-methylsolanocapsine / Leaves:

Study evaluated the in vitro cytotoxic properties of O-methylsolanocapsine isolated from Solanum pseudocapsicum leaves. Several steroidal alkaloids including solanocapsine, solacasine, solacapine, episolacapine, isosolacapine, and O-methylsolanocapsine were isolated from the arboreal part of the plants. Study confirmed O-methylsolanocapsine is more cytotoxic to the HeLa cell lines. Results indicate the steroidal alkaloids possess strong cytotoxic and antitumor properties.


In vitro antioxidant properties of Solanum pseudocapsicum leaf extracts: Crude methanolic extracts exhibited potent antioxidant activity. However, it exhibited no activity in the scavenging of hydroxyl or superoxide radicals.

Antitumor / Leaves:

Antitumor activity of total alkaloid fraction of solanum pseudocapsicum leaves was tested against Dalton’s Lymphoma Ascites model in mice and revealed increase in mean survival time and life span of tumor-bearing mice. The observed activity may be due to its cytotoxic properties.


Study on leaf extracts has isolated 0-methylsolanocapsine with in vitro cytotoxic properties against some cancerous cell lines and merits in vivo studies to confirm its antitumor activity.

Solacasine / Antibacterial:

Systematic fractionation of alcohol extracts showed solacasine, a new steroidal alkaloid, to be the main antibacterial constituent.


Alkaloid fraction of the methanol extract of Solanum pseudocapsicum was tested for hepatoprotective activity against CCl4 induced toxicity in rat hepatocytes and showed antihepatotoxic effect at very low concentrations and suggests further studies of the alkaloid fraction to identify the active principles.

Volatile Compounds / Roots:

Hydrodistillation yielded 41 compounds (50% of the oil) from the roots of Solanum pseudocapsicum. The dominant compounds were hexadecanoic acid (24.1%), 2-methoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine (2.8%) and 15-methylhexadecanoic acid (2.1%). The high proportion of the fatty acids was considered to be contributory to its medicinal properties.


Of the six extracts of SP tested for antioxidant activity, the crude methanolic extract showed potent antioxidant activity. The extract also showed potent scavenging activity against ABTS free radical, however, in a degree less than the standards used.

Cytotoxic Activity of Alkaloids:

All five alkaloid fractions of the methanolic extracts of leaves, ripe fruits, roots, seeds and stems of SP showed potent cytotoxic activity with the HT-29 cell line showing the most sensitivity. The most potent was found in the fraction of leaves.

Chemical and Nutrient Analysis of Berries:

Analysis of berries yielded 25 components, constituting 99.8% of extract composition. The extract was dominated by alkaloids, hydrocarbons, fatty acids, alcohols and the derivatives of carboxylic acid. The presence of other components such as aramines, phentamines, dopamine, fluoxotine and amphetamines are noteworthy.

Antifungal / Leaves and Roots:

Various extracts of leaves, fruits, and roots of S. pseudocapsicum were investigated for antimycotic activities. Acetone and methanol extracts showed significant growth inhibition of Aspergillus niger and Penicillium notatum and marked suppression of growth of Fusarium oxysporum. Results suggest a potential application as a fungicide.



Read about other interesting fruits

Acai berry        Ambarella         Avocado           Bael       Banana      Bilberry      Cocunut   

 Cantaloupe        Cashew apple      Dragon Fruit    Durian      Fig      Jack fruit   Jamun      

 Kiwi        Lychee      Malay apple     Mango        Mangosteen       Miracle fruit         Pomelo  

 Papaya     Passion fruit     Phalsa      Pineapple           Plum       Pomegranate       

Prickly pear      Quince       Rambutan           Roselle          Santol          Sapota       

Sea buckthorn       Sour Orange     Soursop           Sweet Lime         Star gooseberry 

Star Apple        Strawberry     Surinam Cherry          Sweet lime        Tamarind       Tomato 

Tree tomato      Wampi       Watermelon         Wood apple

Read about herbs and spices

Allspice          Alfalfa       Ashwagandha        Bay leaf              Black cohosh           

Black onion seeds       Black pepper       Cayenne pepper    Celery          Chives       

 Chamomile        Clove     Coffee senna    Coriander       Curry leaf         Cumin        

Eucalyptus       Fennel            Fenugreek       Garlic      Ginger         Gotu Kola       

Hibiscus         Holy basil    Jasmine     Kava Kava     Lavender     Licorice   

Long pepper    Lotus   Majoram      Marigold     Mugwort     Mustard seeds      

 Neem    Nutmeg       Oregano     Peppermint     Red  clover        Rose       Rosemary           

Sage         Sensitive plant   St.John’s wort        Tarragon        Thyme     Triphala powder        

Turmeric     Vetiver grass    Wheat grass      Wild amarnath