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a genus of annual or perennial grasses of the family Solanaceae. A distinguishing feature is the inflated calyx in which the fruit, a berry, develops. More than 100 species are found in tropical and subtropical regions, primarily in Central America and southeastern North America. Three wild species and several cultivated species occur in the USSR; the three most commonly cultivated species are P. peruviana, P. pubescens, and P. aequata.
P. peruviana is a perennial. Its stem is 70–100 cm high, and its leaves are cordate and tomentose. The flowers are small and solitary; there are brown spots at the base of the petals. The rounded-oval fruits are yellow-orange and weigh 5–12 g; their tartness and aroma are suggestive of strawberries. The fruits are eaten fresh and are used to make confectioneries. The plant is grown in southern parts of the USSR; the yield of fruit is small.
P. pubescens is an annual with trailing stems 50–80 cm long. The leaves are broad-oval and slightly crinkled. The small flowers are pale yellow with brown spots at the base of the petals. The yellow fruits are small, weighing less than 10 g; they are very sweet (resembling strawberries), aromatic, and sticky. They are used fresh and in confectioneries.
P. aequata, an annual measuring about 1 m in height, has elongate-oval leaves. The flowers are quite large; their coloration is yellow with dark purple spots at the base of the petals. The light yellow, green, or purple fruits range in shape from flat-rounded to oval. They weight 30–60 g. Varieties grown in the USSR are Moskovskii ranii, whose yellow fruits weigh 40–80 g and yield 200–300 quintals per ha; Gruntovoi gribovskii, whose yellow-green fruits weigh 35–60 g; and Konditerskii, whose green fruits weigh 30–50 g. The fruits are eaten fresh and in processed form (in marinades, “caviar,” and confectioneries); they are also used for pickling. The plants are propagated by seeds and seedlings.
REFERENCESIpat’ev, A. N. Ovoshchnye rasteniia zemnogo shara. Minsk, 1966.
Spravochnikpo ovoshchevodstvu. Edited by V. A. Bryzgalov. Leningrad, 1971.