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Solanum capsicastrum, False Jerusalem Cherry, Winter Cherry, Christmas Cherry

Solanum capsicastrum

False Jerusalem Cherry, Winter Cherry, Christmas Cherry
Family: Solanaceae
Origin: South America
Small shrub 2-5 ftFull sunSemi-shadeRegular waterOrnamental foliagePoisonous or toxic

Winter cherries are usually planted as winter bedding in pots or window boxes to provide color during the most difficult time of the year. They are perennial though, and make neat little shrubs in a sheltered border. The small white flowers appear continuously from midsummer onwards and while these are fairly insignificant, they are soon followed by fruits about the size of a cherry. These fruits start off green but quickly change color through yellow and orange, to red. Solanum capsicastrum is well worth growing as a single plant in a pot for the patio where it will become an asset for many years. Do not eat the fruit though as they contain toxins. Once planted, ensure the plant always gets adequate supplies of water. Give a feed of fertilizer occasionally to encourage fruit to grow well. An easy plant to look after. This plant is suitable for growing indoors.

Supposedly, the plant described as Solanum pseudocapsicum and called Jerusalem Cherry, Madeira Winter Cherry, or, ambiguously, Winter Cherry is a closely related but distinct species. But these supposed differences are inconsistently given in various horticultural sources, and no botanical source has in recent times distinguished between the two. Indeed, these taxa are now generally held to refer to the same species, and the 'Jerusalem cherry', if it is at all distinguishable, seems to be a chemotype at best, or just a motley collection of cultivars.

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