Eggplant is best known for being in Eggplant Parmesan but it is also commonly used as a replacement for meat in vegetarian dishes. There is more variety in color than is typically known. Most commonly known is the glossy, large, pear-shaped purple eggplant Black Beauty. There is also a more cylindrical longer and white variety Gretel Hybrid. Eggplant Seeds. Eggplant is a perennial, but it is often grown as an annual. It is in the nightshade family, meaning the leaves are not edible.