Eggplant (Solanum melongena), or aubergine, is a species of nightshade grown for its edible fruit. Eggplant is the common name in North America and Australia, but British English uses the French word aubergine. It is known in South Asia, Southeast Asia, and South Africa as brinjal.
The eggplant is a delicate, tropical perennial often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates. The stem is often spiny. The flower is white to purple, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. The egg-shaped, glossy, purple fruit has white flesh with a meaty texture. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open.
Most commonly purple, the spongy, absorbent fruit is used in several cuisines. Typically used as a vegetable in cooking, it is a berry by botanical definition. As a member of the genus Solanum, it is related to the tomato, chili pepper, and potato, although they are new world and the eggplant, like nightshade, is old world. Like the tomato, its skin and seeds can be eaten, but, like the potato, it is usually eaten cooked. Eggplant is nutritionally low in macronutrient and micronutrient content, but the capability of the fruit to absorb oils and flavors into its flesh through cooking expands its use in the culinary arts.