Eggplant (Solanum melongena var. esculentum), or aubergine, perennial herbaceous plant of the nightshade family. The genus contains about 1500 tropical and temperate climate species; one wild and 5 cultivated species occur in Canada. Native to southwest Asia, eggplant was derived from a wild species with egg-shaped fruits. Plants are either bushy or upright, 45-100 cm tall; flowers (2-4 cm across) are purple and usually occur singly. Fruits (20-25 cm long) are a glossy purplish black with a green calyx. A long-season crop, eggplants require a greenhouse or hotbed start of 9-10 weeks and reach maturity 55-80 days after transplanting. Insect pests are fleas and Colorado potato beetles; plant diseases, Verticillium and bacterial wilts. Eggplants are comparable to tomatoes in nutrition but have better shelf life. Eggplants are a low-hectarage commercial crop in Canada but are grown in gardens across the country.