Solanum melongena – solanum is Latin for nightshade, melongena is Greek for ‘sprung from a fruit tree’.
The purple eggplant, now so common, was domesticated in India and Burma; it arrived in China by the fourth century. Arabic people introduced Europeans to the delights of eggplant in the seventh century.
There is great variation in eggplant fruits, from the common large purple to the pea-sized yellow ones of Thailand. The first eggplants grown in England were small and egg-shaped, hence their English name.