look past the large spiney leaves to see the round buds clustered in the center
Naranjilla – Solanum quitoense – the botanical variety septentrionale is said to differ from the typical form, quitoense, (which literally means “of Ecuador”) in that it has spines on the stem, branches, petioles, and principal veins of the leaves.
The naranjilla plant, a member of the nightshade family, is a herbaceous, spreading shrub that grows up to 8 ft tall with 1.5×2 ft leaves. It is covered in dangerous purple and green thorns and bears a small orange edible fruit said to taste like a cross between a pineapple and a lemon. I wanted it for the rarity and novelty as well as its ability to deter pests such as small children, dogs [and dog owners] and deer.
It is planted in a traditional ornamental urn with plants whose color, texture and flowers compliment its gray, hairy leaves. The flower buds, looking like brussel sprouts on multiple stems, will open to a yellow (fragrant?) flower. I hope to use the fruit in a very small batch of preserves for an unusual taste treat come winter. Look for tiny tarts with little dollops of jam on them at one of the holiday parties and be prepared for a surprise!