Solanum guatamalense Hort.
Common Name: Pepino
Solanum muricatum is a short-lived, evergreen sub-shrub growing about 1 metre tall[
The plant has been cultivated for its edible fruit in S. America for hundreds of years, since before the Europeans arrived. Its cultivation has spread to other areas of the Tropics and subtropics[
Although providing many well-known foods for people, including the potato, tomato, pepper and aubergine, most species in this genus also contain toxic alkaloids. Whilst these alkaloids can make the plant useful in treaing a range of medical conditions, they can also cause problems such as nausea, vomiting, salivation, drowsiness, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, weakness and respiratory depression[
Unless there are specific entries with information on edible uses, it would be unwise to ingest any part of this plant[
S. America - Chile, Peru.
Not known in a truly wild state[
A plant of higher elevations in the moist tropics, able to be grown at low elevations in the subtropics[
]. It is found at elevations up to 4,000 metres[
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 15 - 25°c, but can tolerate 10 - 30°c[
]. When dormant, the plant can survive temperatures down to about -3°c, but young growth can be severely damaged at 0°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 800 - 1,400mm, but tolerates 500 - 2,000mm[
Succeeds in most well-drained soils in a sunny position[
]. If the soil is too fertile fruit production will suffer due to excess vegetative growth[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 6.5 - 7, tolerating 6 - 7.5[
]. The plant requires a pH above 6 in order to avoid disorders such as manganese toxicity or iron deficiency[
Mature fruits can be harvested about 5 months after planting, and plants can continue to crop for up to two years[
Yields of 40 - 60 tonnes per hectare have been achieved[
High temperatures, particularly above 30°c, at flowering time can cause the flowers to abort[
Plants do not appear to have a sensitivity to day-length[
Plants can set fruit parthenocarpically (without fertilization or seed being formed) but self-fertilization or insect fertilization greatly encourages fruiting[
]. Seed is rarely formed in cultivated fruits[
There are some named varieties[
Fruit - raw. A juicy, sweet aromatic and very agreeable flavour[
], somewhat like a honeydew melon[
]. The skin of some varieties has a disagreeable flavour[
]. The fruit contains 35mg vitamin C per 100g, 7% carbohydrates and 92% water[
]. The fruit should be harvested just before it is fully ripe and will store for several weeks at room temperature[
]. The fruit is about 10cm long and 6cm wide[
An extract of the fruit is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner[
Seed - rarely formed in cultivated plants[
]. If seed is obtained, then it can be sown in a seedbed or containers. Plant out when about 10cm tall.
Cuttings of half-ripe wood up to 15cm long, planted in a nursery bed during the wet season. Very easy.
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