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Solanum quitoense

Solanum quitoense
Fuzz over lustrous green, like verdant hills
Solanum quitoense
Fuzzy flower buds, which developed in early August, opened to downward-facing flowers by the end of the month.

Common name naranjilla
Family solanaceae
Life cycle tender shrub
Flowers white (late summer)
From seed germinate warm
detailed seed-starting info below

Subtropical shrub or small tree grown for its fuzzy orange fruit, which is often used in drinks. It can tolerate short periods of light frost, but I'm afraid it stands no chance in Pennsylvania - so I just observe it through a single season of growth. One year I got ambitious, and attempted to overwinter it in the basement (I regretted it - they brought fungus gnats in, which feasted on my seedlings). Some years they fail to put on much growth at all (less than other solanums that we grow as annuals), but in our latest attempt they're finally starting to look impressive (which must mean they like high fertility and plentiful moisture: that's what I'm giving them). The leaves are very handsome, with prominent veins. We're growing two plants, from the same seed lot; one has thorns on all its features (along the leaf veins, as well as the stems). The other one is thornless.

Dark-furry leaves and veins, with the veins punctuated by thorns
Solanum quitoense
This stem belongs to the non-thorny naranjilla. The fuzzy purple start-burst hairs look interesting up close, though.
The two plants, side by side, make an impressive statement in the garden (and completely obscure the rose in front of which they were planted)
Solanum quitoense
The last photo I took, in early November, before a killing frost did both plants in. Sadly, the fruit never ripened, so I am still in the dark about the flavor of naranjillas - but I'm grateful for a season of majestic performance.

This plant used to grow in our garden, but it slipped away...

Read about the other spiny solanums in our garden

One or more images of this plant are included in my stock photo catalog

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Seed-starting details for this plant

  1. Seed from '05 trade. Baggy 75F (65%G, 12-16d)
  2. Same seed as above. Baggy 75F (45%G, 18-31d)
  3. Same seed as above. Baggy 75F (40%G, 24d)

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