bright-blue flowers occur in clusters. As noted, fruits can be produced without pollination (such parthenocarpic fruits are seedless), but fruit set is much greater when self- or cross-pollination occurs. Pollen is not usually abundant. As the stigma is longer than the anthers, pollination is unlikely to occur unless pollen is transferred by an insect or human hand.
The fruit varies from globose to pointed oval. When ripe, the skin background color may be creamy to yellow-orange. Purple, gray, or green striping or blush colorations give the fruit distinctive appearance. The flesh may be greenish, yellow, salmon, or nearly clear.
Horticultural Varieties. Pepinos appear in markets throughout the Andes, but although there are many distinct strains, few have been stabilized into named cultivars.
In Chile, however, there are named varieties. All produce similar purple-striped, egg-shaped fruits. These are only slightly sweet, with a Brix rating generally less than 8. The purple stripes mask the bruise marks so common on the golden, unstriped pepinos. Chile is a major exporter, and its varieties are now also grown in California and New Zealand.
In New Zealand, the most common cultivated varieties are El Camino and Suma. El Camino has medium to large egg-shaped fruit with regular purple stripes. For reasons that possibly have to do with mineral nutrients given to the plant, it sometimes produces off-flavored fruits (these are identifiable by their brownish green color). Suma is a vigorous cultivar producing heavy crops of medium to large globose fruits, with regular purple stripes and attractive appearance. Their flavor is mild and sweet.
In California, New Yorker is the most widely grown cultivar. Since 1984, however, Miski Prolific has become equally popular. Its flesh is deep-salmon color, and its skin creamy white with light-purple stripes. There are a few seeds in each fruit.
Although this plant is native to equatorial latitudes, it is typically grown on sites that are cool. Thus, it is found in upland valleys, in coastal areas cooled by fog, and parts of Chile where the summers are not hot.
Daylength. Since the pepino fruits well at many latitudes, it appears to be photoperiod-insensitive.
Rainfall. 1,000 mm minimum, well distributed over several months. As noted, the pepino has little drought resistance, and in Chile and Peru irrigation is often used.