Lulo or naranjilla – ”little orange” as in is known in Panama and Ecuador, is a subtropical perennial plant from northwestern South America. Its formal scientific name is Solanum quitoense basically means ‘from Quito”.
The lulo plant has long elongated heart or oval shaped foliage. The plants are delicate and should be protected fro direct sunlight and strong winds. They grow best in partial shade and are sometimes used as ”patio” plants. The leaves are attractive and covered with short purple hairs.
The lulo fruit is orange and has a leather like, hairy skin. Inside looks it has the appearance of a green tomato and has small white edible seeds. It is a member of the nightshade family and the fruit bruises quite easily. The fruit is quite tart and some people say that it tastes like a combination of rhubarb and lime or pineapple and lemon.
The fruit can be scooped out and eaten raw or cooked. It may be added to jams and jellies as well as used as flavouring for ice cream. In Colombia, it is most often used for making a tart juice with a green colouration (usually well sweetened by Colombians). The Lulada, is a popular, cold, and refreshing drink from Cali region of the country. It is made with mashed lulos, lime juice, water, sugar and ice.
Lulo is high in potassium, iron, and Vitamin A. It also contains Calcium, fiber, Iron, water, Phosphorus, Vitamins A, B3 and C. The juice from the lulo is a natural diuretic. It strengthens hair, finger nails, and bones. Another benefit is that it helps the body eliminate uric acid, which is the cause of Gout.
It is important to note, that even though we are listing supposed medicinal properties, do not overuse any fruit. Additionally it is important to consult with your physician and or nutritionist as to how you can integrate them into your diet.