The lulo or naranjilla is a herbaceous shrub known as Solanum quitoense, it is native to Central and South America. It has thick woody stems that can grow up to 2.5 meters in height, its foliage is soft 61 cm long in the shape of a heart. May contain thorns.
This perennial plant from tropical to subtropical climate cannot tolerate temperatures above 29 ° C, it blooms in climates with temperatures between 17 and 19 ° C and with high humidity. It is intolerant to total exposure to the sun, the growing conditions of the lulo should be in semi-shade.
This shrub thrives at altitudes of up to 1,829m above sea level with well-distributed rainfall. For good growth it is an essential requirement to avoid strong winds, which can cause its branches to split.
When young, the leaves are covered with bright purple hairs. The resulting fruit, also called lulo, is covered with brown hairs that are easily removed to reveal a bright orange exterior.
The fruit has inside juicy sections of colors between green to yellow and are separated by membranous walls filled with numerous edible seeds of pale beige color. The shape of this fruit is usually round or oval about 6.5cm wide.
Lulo is a very juicy fruit with a delicious taste, which can be compared to a combination of pineapple and lemon, it feels slightly acidic on the palate. The pulp is so juicy that it is ideal for preparing refreshing juices.
How to grow lulo
Lulo bush develops best in rich, organic soil; it also grows well in poor, stony soils and in scarified limestone. It is important that you have good drainage. It is a plant that can bear fruit abundantly if the growing conditions are optimal.
Propagation usually occurs from seeds. It can also be spread asexually by aerial layering or cuttings. Transplantation is done when the seedlings reach 35cm in height. Plants should be placed at a distance of 1.8 to 2.4 m in each direction.
Seedlings bloom 4-5 months after transplantation. Fruiting begins 10 to 12 months from seed and is continuous for 3 years. In some areas they can bear fruit for 7 continuous years until productivity decreases and the plant dies.
Pests and diseases
The main enemies of the lulo are the nematodes of the root knot (Meloidogynesp), these can affect the growth and development of the plant, weakens them to death. These can be attacked with nematicides, but it is usually a somewhat expensive antidote. The most economical method is to remove and replace the affected plants.
This plant can also be attacked by different fungal diseases that can affect its productivity, among them are: gummosis, white mold, anthracnose, fusariosis, stem chancre, chlorosis and black spot. The best way to combat them is by performing treatment in the soil, controlling the humidity, the PH and applying the necessary nutrients.
Robert Asprin, APD is a non-dieting Accredited Practicing Dietitian passionate about inspiring positive changes in eating and lifestyle behaviors to help improve health while nurturing relationships with food and body.