Turkey berry also known as devil's fig, pea eggplant, platebrush or susumber,
is a bushy, erect and spiny perennial plant used horticulturally as a rootstock for eggplant. Grafted plants are very vigorous and tolerate diseases affecting the root system, thus allowing the crop to continue for a second year.
Turkey berry is a type of spiny, flowering shrub that produces large clusters of yellow-green, pea-sized berries that can be used for a variety of culinary, horticultural, and medicinal purposes.
Turkey berry is a hearty plant that thrives in a variety of climates, but it grows best in sunny, temperate regions.
The plants spread easily, much like weeds. Hence, they can be found all over the world, including in the Americas, Africa, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.
Because turkey berry is so widespread, it’s unclear exactly where it first originated. However, many experts believe it’s probably native to Central and South America.
The plant is usually 2 or 3 m in height and 2 cm in basal diameter, but may reach 5m in height and 8 cm in basal diameter. The shrub usually has a single stem at ground level, but it may branch on the lower stem. The stem bark is gray and nearly smooth with raised lenticels. The inner bark has a green layer over an ivory color (Little and others 1974). The plants examined by the author, growing on firm soil, had weak taproots and well-developed laterals. The roots are white. Foliage is confined to the growing twigs.
The twigs are gray-green and covered with star-shaped hairs. The spines are short and slightly curved and vary from thick throughout the plant, including the leaf midrib, to entirely absent. The leaves are opposite or one per node, broadly ovate with the border entire or deeply lobed. The petioles are 1 to 6 cm long and the blades are 7 to 23 by 5 to 18 cm and covered with short hairs. The flowers are white, tubular with 5 pointed lobes, and grouped in corymbiform cymes. They are shed soon after opening.
The fruits are berries that grow in clusters of tiny green spheres (1 cm in diameter) that look like green peas.
Turkey berry is a popular food and herbal remedy used in a variety of ancient folk medicine practices.
Turkey berry is used as both a food and herbal remedy for countless physical ailments, including high blood pressure, digestive issues, bacterial infections, and more.
Still, scientific research focusing on the medicinal properties of turkey berry is very limited.
Turkey berry is a particularly rich source of plant-based iron and often consumed to treat or prevent iron deficiency anemia.
Turkey berry is loaded with a variety of unique compounds, such as gallic acid and ferulic acid, which have demonstrated strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties in test-tube studies. Moreover, one animal study found that turkey berry extract significantly reduced blood pressure in rats with high blood pressure.