Q: I took this picture at the North Carolina State Fair horticulture exhibit last fall. I’m curious what it is. It was a decent sized shrub – about 3 feet in height with a wider diameter.
A: The plant is one I first saw at Callaway Gardens. Though the spines are fearsome, the plant was a real show-stopper. It is kin to the tomato and eggplant. It’s common name is “naranjilla” but its scientific name is Solanum quitoense ‘Lulo’. The orange fruits are filled with a jelly which tastes like a mixture of pineapple and lemon. It is used for drinks and sauces in the Andes.
If you can find seed, they can be planted in March in soil-filled cups on your kitchen window sill or you can wait until late April, when the soil is warm, to sow the seeds outdoors. Naranjilla is not hardy outdoors during an Atlanta winter but the seed make it easy to grow and enjoy each year. It can reach six feet high.
It thrives under the same conditions as your regular backyard tomato and eggplant.
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