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Old 05-08-2012, 09:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

About 4 years ago I obtained a half-dozen Naranjilla ( Solanum quitoense) plants from a local nursery. Apparently customers weren't interested. This is a beautiful, exotic plant which grows well outdoors here in San Diego CA, USDA zone 10a. The plant produces flowers here almost constantly, and last year a few of them set fruit. Now my location is not tropical Ecuador, so I wasn't surprised that the ripening period was about 9 months! The flavor is definitely worth the wait. The best source of information about the plant I have come across is in Julia Morton's classic text, excerpted here: Naranjilla.

Here's a photo of a portion of my plant, along with a snapshot of my emerging seedlings



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Old 05-08-2012, 10:57 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

That's a really interesting looking plant. How cold hardy is it?
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Old 05-08-2012, 11:21 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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That's a really interesting looking plant. How cold hardy is it?
I have no idea what the limits are.
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:31 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Apparently it's native to highlands, so I would think it has at least some cold hardiness. It says it can't tolerate temperatures over 85 degrees though. That rules out the possibility of me growing it where I live
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Old 05-09-2012, 12:56 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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Originally Posted by caliboy1994 View Post
Apparently it's native to highlands, so I would think it has at least some cold hardiness. It says it can't tolerate temperatures over 85 degrees though. That rules out the possibility of me growing it where I live
Grows here just fine in zone 10a with summer excursions to 100F and Santa Ana winds. The key has been partial shade and some shelter from the winds.
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Old 05-09-2012, 06:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

In Colombia they call it Lulo, and it's used to make a refreshing juice. I've got some seeds started, and plant to try to overwinter it indoors and maybe get fruit next year.....
We'll see.
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Old 05-09-2012, 09:59 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

What is the taste and texture like?
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:32 AM   #8 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

A little like Kiwi- but different, personally I think it's almost impossible to describe the taste a fruit.
It's got a harder outside and you generally scoop out the inside.
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Old 05-09-2012, 11:55 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Looking at the plant and knowing it is in the same genus as tomatoes, peppers, etc. -- you'll notice that it has characteristics of eggplant in the leaves and tomatillo in the fruit, although there are no "husks". The skin is tougher than a tomatillo in fact not unlike eggplant skin. The taste of the fruit ... well it is a tomatillo that tastes strongly of sweet citrus.
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Old 05-09-2012, 04:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Growing Naranjilla as well, though the one I am growing is (Solanum pseudolulo) was obtained from Logees. I found some online sources which said Solanum pseudolulo was suppose to be more heat tolerant.
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Old 05-09-2012, 05:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

I love this one Richard, and it looks like you got the thornless variety. I had the one with the thorns and they were QUITE obnoxious (like a cactus!), and made it hard to harvest the fruit, so I ended up drying most of the seeds, since they ended up falling off into the center of the plant trunk cluster. I would also say the fruit tastes a little like the combination of Kiwi and the tartness of a Loquat. I found the plant to be more interesting and HIGHLY attractive than waiting forever for the fruit. Especially how enormous the foliage gets. Even more interesting looking with the purple spines. They are small, and don't contain more than a tablespoon of real usable juice after you get rid of all the pulp and seeds. I do wonder if there's a noticeable difference in flavor between the spined one and the spineless.

If anyone's interested in growing something that tastes similar, and is a close relative of this and tomatillo, with more hardiness than Lulo, try growing the Physallis peruviana. They will tolerate HIGH heat and will come back from the ground with heavy frosts. If you can find specifically Physalis pubescens, this one actually has the best flavor. I have a friend up in Ventura County at one time who used to grow about 10 different types for a University, and I had the privilege to taste several. However, P. peruviana is quite tasty as well (would be my second choice).
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Old 05-09-2012, 10:15 PM   #12 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Great looking plant Richard! I was given two cuttings of this plant a month ago and since then they have put out about 8 leaves each, with each one larger and larger! I love the vibrant purple on the new growth

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Old 05-10-2012, 01:44 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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Originally Posted by planetrj View Post
I love this one Richard, and it looks like you got the thornless variety.
Oh, mine have thorns alright. Read the link I posted earlier to Julia Morton's article. Basically, the less care you give it the more thorns it will have.
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:24 AM   #14 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Nice plant you've got there. I grew 2 of them two years back and I have some small seedlings going on this year too. Mostly I grow them for the tropical foliage but by fall it had actually started to bloom but unfortunately it was too late.

I read that they can withstand light frost and that they thrive better in cooler climates. Also they set fruit first when there are 8-10 hours of daylight.
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Old 05-10-2012, 11:39 AM   #15 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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Originally Posted by planetrj View Post
If anyone's interested in growing something that tastes similar, and is a close relative of this and tomatillo, with more hardiness than Lulo, try growing the Physallis peruviana. They will tolerate HIGH heat and will come back from the ground with heavy frosts. If you can find specifically Physalis pubescens, this one actually has the best flavor. I have a friend up in Ventura County at one time who used to grow about 10 different types for a University, and I had the privilege to taste several. However, P. peruviana is quite tasty as well (would be my second choice).
Off the topic of Naranjilla and on to its relatives, the ground cherries...
I see Physalis pruinosa (the name most seed sellers seem to use) listed as a synonym of P. pubescens. Anyone know if that is true, that they are the same plant? I've got P. peruviana and P. pruinosa going from seeds this year. First time I've tried growing either. So far, P. peruviana has been a much better grower for me.
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Old 05-10-2012, 03:35 PM   #16 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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Originally Posted by venturabananas View Post
Off the topic of Naranjilla and on to its relatives, the ground cherries...
I see Physalis pruinosa (the name most seed sellers seem to use) listed as a synonym of P. pubescens. Anyone know if that is true, that they are the same plant? I've got P. peruviana and P. pruinosa going from seeds this year. First time I've tried growing either. So far, P. peruviana has been a much better grower for me.
I think pruinosa and pubescens are the same species. The main difference between pruinosa/pubescens and peruviana seems to be that pruinosa/pubescens is somewhat faster to set fruit and ripe. About the taste I think peruviana is supposed to be a bit sweeter. This year I'm aiming for a monster pruinosa, because I succesfully overwintered a 1m-ish bush indoors and it seems really vigorous
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Old 05-10-2012, 07:23 PM   #17 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

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I think pruinosa and pubescens are the same species. ...
Actually Physalis pruinosa and Physalis pubescens are separate species.

And for more fun, there are:

Physalis alkekengi L. (red-flesh Cape-gooseberry)
Physalis grisea (Waterf.) M. Martinez (dwarf Cape-gooseberry)
Physalis peruviana L. (Cape-gooseberry)
Physalis viscosa L. (sticky Cape-gooseberry)

Physalis species and synonyms
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Old 06-12-2012, 09:37 PM   #18 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Do you ever see any insect pollinate the plant. I grow these and get a lot of flowers, but very few fruit relatively. A few were even seedless. They do seem to be cold tolerant. I grow them in the SF Bay Area inland where I do get frosts as well as high heat days in summer. The leaves will get damaged and drop in frosts, but the stems are hardier.
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Old 06-20-2012, 06:35 PM   #19 (permalink)
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

I disagree about the thorniness varying with the amount of care you give them. I grow naranjilla every year and some plants are naturally thornless and some are very thorny grown from the same batch of seed which I grow out and save myself. If they are thorny when young, they always will be--and if they're not thorny when young it doesn't change.
They will grow at high temperatures, but if it's really hot over 90, they will need some shade and actually seem to like afternoon shade here all summer. Even though the leaves are fuzzy, you have to watch them for spider mites in dry weather, it's really the only pest problem we have with them.
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Old 06-22-2012, 01:27 PM   #20 (permalink)
 
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Default Re: Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

Mine are completely thornless. I haven't seen a plant with thorns except in pictures. If they are anything like the thorns on a Litchi Tomato then I am glad. I opened my last two fruit from last year and they were seedless again. . . wish I knew what pollinates.
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