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Lulo

Height:

1.5 m

Spread:

1 m

Foliage:

Green with mauve veins

Blooms:

White, August to September

Fruit:

Orange, edible, September to October

Exposure:

Full sun

Soil:

Rich and moist, but well-drained

Hardiness:

Annual


Lulo (Solanum quitoense)

Lulo, closely related to tomatoes and sweet peppers, is a surprising plant that is distinguished from its cousins by its architectural appearance that adds landscaping structure and volume – in addition to producing tasty fruit. At our latitudes, lulo grows to 1.25 to 1.5 metres, with large green leaves sporting purple veins that resemble giant oak leaves. And that’s not all – in late summer it produces spherical fruit covered in beige hairs. Rub off the hairs to reveal the orange peel and yummy greenish-yellow flesh that’s chock full of vitamin A and C and beta-carotene. The flavour is like a subtle blend of pineapple, lime and rhubarb. It is said to reduce the risk of cancer, lower cholesterol levels and improve digestion. The fruit of this plant native to South America, called lulo in Colombia and naranjilla (little orange) in Ecuador, is very popular there for making a delicious green juice. The fruit can also simply be eaten raw with a spoon, or used in salads and desserts.

Lulo is a fast-growing plant that needs very rich, moist but well-drained soil in a hot, sunny location, or the fruit won’t ripen properly. Be sure to add plenty of compost to the existing soil at planting time. It can also be grown in a container, and brought indoors before the first frost to ripen any late-appearing fruit. Although easy to grow, this plant sometimes suffers insect damage to its foliage.