Loree at Danger Garden has been posting weekly for a while about her favorite plant and has invited other bloggers to join in this meme. Today the plant that is thrilling me and my non gardening partner is Solanum quitoense. The Solanaceae family is large and includes both edible and poisonous members. Solanum quitoense has gorgeous purple veined furry leaves that can reach a foot or more in length. They look cute as a teddy bear but have prickles that are cleverly hidden on the undersides of the leaves. Solanum quitoense, known as naranjilla (little orange) in Ecuador and Panama and as lulo in Colombia, is a subtropical perennial plant from northwestern South America. The specific name for this species of nightshade means "from Quito."
Love the purple fur! Those little round things are flower buds.
The huge leaves are quite lovely.
I've grown this plant for years and have often had it flower but last summer, for the first time, it decided to produce fruit.
You may remember these images from a post back then.
And later as the fruit decided not to abort but began to grow larger.
The plant, hardy in zones 9 - 12 lives inside my house in the winter. Look what happened to the fruits!
The fruit supposedly has a citrus flavor that is described as a cross between lime and rhubarb. The juice of this orange fruit is green. The fruit can be eaten out of hand (the furry outer part is discarded) and the juice is a popular drink in parts of South America.
The plant, not taller than I, recently got moved back outside for the summer but I don't want to cut it back as usual because of the cool orange fruit. Because it was in an out of the way room for the winter, the non gardening partner didn't notice the fruits until I moved it outside and he passed it on his way into the house. While it's got ripening fruit on it, it's still producing buds to make more. How sweet is that?
Just in case I decide not to schlep the huge plant into the house and up a flight of stairs, there's a smaller one waiting in the wings. I don't know if I have the heart to leave the big one outside this winter now that it's produced fruit for me.