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Naranjilla

The naranjilla or solanum quitoense is a subtropical perennial plant from the northeast of South America.

Its fruit is known as naranjilla in Ecuador, Panama and Costa Rica, and as lulo in Colombia, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Mexico..

It has big velvety leaves covered in short purple hairs from 30 to 45 cm long. Its shape is oval and oblong, with corrugated edges, a petiole of up to 15 cm and obtuse and acute angles to obtain the sunlight through forest.

Under the shadow it flourishes and fructifies almost continuously, keeping a few fruits, with long periods of production. The sowing under the shadow is convenient for the preservation of the forest. If the sowing is carried out under the sun, the plants flourish and fructify abundantly, but the productive period is reduced with a harvest of the fruits during around 12 months.

The fruit has an egg shape and is similar to the tomato, of around 4 to 6 cm of diameter and a brown, orange or yellow peel covered of small and thin spikes or fluff. In the inside it is divided into four sections separated by membranes, full of green or yellow pulp and many small and white seeds.

In Colombia and specially Ecuador, the production is enough to cover the high local demand. The ripe fruit can be processed with its peel, in order to obtain the highest amount of minerals (for example Calcium 72.7 and Phosphorus 32.3 mg/100 ml and 4.38% of fibre). Its best commercial value is due to the vitamin C, obtaining 36.8 mg/100 ml. The fruits are harvested at the 40% of their maturity and collected with gloves to facilitate the cleansing of the trichomes and fluff, rubbing the fruits with both hands.

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