The eggplant or brinjal is a delicate, tropical perennial plant often cultivated as a tender or half-hardy annual in temperate climates. The stem is often spiny. The flowers are white to purple in color, with a five-lobed corolla and yellow stamens. Some common cultivars have fruit that is egg-shaped, glossy, and purple with white flesh and a spongy, “meaty” texture. Some other cultivars are white and longer in shape. The cut surface of the flesh rapidly turns brown when the fruit is cut open (oxidation).
Eggplant grows 40 to 150 cm (1.3 to 4.9 ft) tall, with large, coarsely lobed leaves that are 10 to 20 cm (3.9 to 7.9 in) long and 5 to 10 cm (2.0 to 3.9 in) broad. Semiwild types can grow much larger, to 225 cm (7.38 ft), with large leaves over 30 cm (12 in) long and 15 cm (5.9 in) broad. On wild plants, the fruit is less than 3 cm (1.2 in) in diameter; in cultivated forms: 30 cm (12 in) or more in length are possible for long, narrow types or the large fat purple ones common to the West.
Raw eggplant is composed of 92% water, 6% carbohydrates, 1% protein, and negligible fat (table). It provides low amounts of essential nutrients, with only manganese having a moderate percentage (11%) of the Daily Value. Minor changes in nutrient composition occur with season, environment of cultivation (open field or greenhouse), and genotype.