Melon Pear Overview
Solanum muricatum is a frost tender, evergreen shrub species in the nightshade family, Solanaceae. It is also known by the names sweet cucumber, melon pear and Pepino melon after its fruits. Typically it grows to around 1m tall and wide, with a spreading habit. This species can make a good groundcover plant, best placed growing up a trellis, wall or fence in a sunny position. However, it has an upright habit and may be grown as a freestanding bush. Although it is a perennial shrub species, it's frequently grown as an annual crop plant. For optimal fruiting, support like a creeper to keep the fruit off the ground. Flowers occur from summer through to autumn, with seeds ripening late summer to early autumn. The flowers are attractive, coloured purple and white, but they are grown mainly for the sweet fruits, which resemble honeydew melon and cucumber in taste and texture. They are round, cream in colour with purple streaks and have a melon-like texture. The fruit is more often seen in local markets, as they are difficult to handle and don't transport well. These are found commonly in locations such as in Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru and Chile, but it's certainly worth growing yourself! Attempts to produce commercial cultivars and to export the fruit have been made in New Zealand, Turkey, Mauritius and Chile. Note seeds are rarely produced in the UK.