Known as ‘Lulo’ or ‘Naranjilla’, the foliage of this beautiful perennial plant has a striking stature and is covered with a small purple down. Its bloom is white. Native to South America, it requires a mild climate (average temperature of 15°C), semi-shaded exposure and shelter from the wind.
Solanum is a Latin word designating nightshades. Its etymology is uncertain, possibly stemming from the Latin word sol, meaning "sun," referring to its status as a plant of the sun. Another possibility is that the root was solare, meaning "soothing". Quitoense means “from Quito”, capital city of Ecuador.
Description and flowering period
This fast growing subtropical perennial which can bear fruits after only 10 months of growth, reaches 1.5 to 2.5 meters in height. Its leaves are rather large (30 to 45cm), oval or oblong in shape with roughly toothed margins. They are, along with the stems, covered in small purple hairs. The flowers are white and bear 5 petals forming a star. The fruits, called naranjilla – which means little orange – are small, round and grow in bunches. The berries start green and hairy before turning a bright shade of orange once ripe. Their flesh is green and contains many seeds.
It requires a mild climate (average temperatures of 15°C), and a sheltered position in partial shade. Its natural habitat is the undergrowth of temperate forests at altitudes ranging from 1500 and 2500 meters.
Food & drink: The fruits have a very tangy flavour and are juiced with added sugar to create a refreshing drink. The fleshy berries are used to make jams and for baking. They are rich in vitamins, calcium and phosphorus.
To this day, there are 3 recognised varieties of this species: the first has spiny leaves and stems, the second is spineless and the third, named baquicha, has bright red fruits when ripe and very soft leaves.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN