Pepino (Solanum muricatum) is a herbaceous plant that belongs to solanaceaefamily. S. muricatum is atropical species of temperate mountain and coastal climate. It requires anannual precipitation of between 500 and 800 mm.
The plant is native to theAndean regions of Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru where it is also cultivated andconsumed (Heiser, 1964). The original cultivation of S. muricatum extended alongthe Andes, from southern Colombia to Bolivia and the Peruvian coast. It was later introduced into Mexico and CentralAmerica, where it was known as S. guatemalense.
Pepino plants propagatedvegetatively grow quickly and begin to flower four or five months after sowing.Plants propagated by seed take longer to develop. In principle, it is aperennial plant, but it is usually cultivated as an annual (Jordan et al. 1993). Pepino growers onlybenefit from two fruiting seasons, since fruit yield and quality subsequentlydiminish. The pepino fruits comes in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, andqualities(Prohens, Ruiz, & Nuez, 1996). The pepinoplants have a very branching habit with Simple or pinnate leaves. Theinflorescence is sub terminal with few flowers.
The flowers are pentamerous,the calyx persists on the fruit and the actinomorphous corolla is 2 cm indiameter and blue in colour with white margins. The stamens are shorter thanthe corolla; the anthers are yellow, connivent and dehiscent through apicalpores. The style emerges slightly in between the anthers. The fruit is ovoid,conical to sub spherical, and it may be with or without seeds. Inside they aresomewhat watery and pleasantly flavored, but normally not over-sweet (Anonymous1989). Pepino fruits are, at their best, somewhat sweet and juicy and are usedas a dessert fruit. At present, pepino remains a little-known crop which iscurrently unexplored and underexploited (Anonymous 1989).
Pepino is alreadybeing grown under modern and controlled conditions in countries like Chile, NewZealand and Carlifornia (Cornejo et al.1990), but not on a large scale. The international markets (Europe, Japan, andthe United States) have been opening in recent years (Anonymous 1989).