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The greenhouse at Manor Nursery, Windsor | by wallygrom
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The greenhouse at Manor Nursery, Windsor

There are the Pepino fruits again ...


The fruits in the hanging baskets are called 'Pepino' ... an edible Solanum. They are delicious, but they seem to have gone out of fashion.


Solanum muricatum is a species of evergreen shrub native to South America and grown for its sweet edible fruit.


It is known as pepino dulce ("sweet pepino" in English, in order to differentiate it from cucumber which is also called "pepino" in Spanish) or simply pepino; the latter is also used for similar species such as "S. mucronatum" (which actually seems to belong in the related genus Lycianthes).


The pepino dulce fruit resembles a melon (Cucumis melo) in color, and its flavor recalls a succulent mixture of honeydew and cucumber, and thus it is also sometimes called pepino melon or melon pear, but pepinos are only very distantly related to melons and pears. Another common name, "tree melon", is more often used for the Papaya (Carica papaya) though the pepino dulce plant generally does not look much like a tree. The present species is, however, a close relative of other nightshades cultivated for their fruit, including the tomato (S. lycopersicum) and the eggplant (S. melongena), which its own fruit closely resembles.


The fruit is common in markets in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, but less often overseas because it is quite sensitive to handling and does not travel well. Attempts to produce commercial cultivars and to export the fruit have been made in New Zealand, Turkey, Mauritius and Chile.


The pepino dulce is presumed to be native to the temperate Andean regions of Colombia, Peru and Chile, though it is not known in the wild and the details of its domestication are unknown. The pepino is a domesticated native of the Andes.


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Taken on October 3, 1993