A small perennial shrub with large spines growing out from stems, branches, and leaves, that has long been cultivated in South America, more so at higher altitudes where cooler temperatures prevail.
Pink buds open into attractive white flowers typical of solanum species in appearance. These are followed by golf-ball size edible fruit that turn bright orange when ripe.
Fruits are covered with numerous fuzzy hairs that rub off when ripe, the fruit then resembling small tomatoes. Pulp is yellow to greenish, sweet-and-sour and of excellent flavour.
Like tomatoes, the fruit is somewhat delicate to handle and best picked before fully ripe, and allowed to ripen indoors. It can be eaten fresh, but is most commonly used for juice or preserves.
Naranjilla is regarded as subtropical, but does well in our slightly cooler temperatures and in fact can stand brief temperature drops to below freezing. The species has been grown in suburban Adelaide and just as successfully in more outlying regions.
The plants like frequent watering and are suitable for containers and wicking beds. They are prone to wind damage so best grown in sheltered areas.