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Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Novel Vegetable: Naranjilla

Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense) isn't exactly a novel vegetable to most tropical areas of the world, but it is definitely novel for most people living in the USA.

The most obvious feature of the plant is that it is covered with a purple fuzz and numerous very sharp spines. I started the plants with hopes that the spines would protect the plant from being browsed on by the ever-present deer in my yard. Because only one plant survived the repeated assaults of too little and too much water, I've decided to actively protect this one from the mammals. Maybe next year I will plant some where that experiment can be allowed to progress.

I wasn't expecting the plant to bloom this year, let alone grow a cluster of six flowers. There is the potential for fruit to grow, though each flower so far has dropped without developing further. Many people report fruit developing during the second year, so I will probably have to wait for the plant to mature further.

There are conflicting reports of what the fruit look like. Sometimes the fruit is described as covered in fuzz or spines. Other times the fruit is described as smooth. Sometimes these differences are attributed to varietal differences, but sometimes they are explained away by the fuzz/spines being removed before the fruit are sold. Hopefully I'll keep the plant alive long enough to see some fruit and get a better approximation of an answer to the fuzz/spines question.