Plants of Ecuador

Noni (Morinda citrifolia)

Morinda citrifolia is a small tree in the Rubiaceae, or coffee family. It is commonly called noni, Indian mulberry, or cheese fruit. It is native to the South Pacific. Today, noni is cultivated throughout the tropics and is grown commercially in Latin America, Florida, and the West Indies.  Noni produces edible fruits with thin green …

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Persian Lilac (Melia azedarach)

Persian Lilac is a small to medium sized tree in the Meliaceae family. It is a close relative of neem (Azadirachta indica).  M. azedarach is native to the subtropical and tropical regions of Asia and parts of Australia. It has now naturalized in many other parts of the world including regions of South America, Africa, the …

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Useful Ornamental Plants of Vilcabamba

While ornamental plants are appreciated for their beauty, most of these plants have numerous practical applications too. These plants are grown abundantly, yet are rarely utilized. In this post, I’ll be highlighting five very common decorative plants that you’ll see growing in and around Vilcabamba, Ecuador and discussing various ways they are used.   Jacaranda …

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Ají (Capsicum pubescens)

Capsicum pubescens is commonly known as rocoto, tree chile, or ají (a less specific name that is used to refer to many kinds of chili peppers). It is cultivated mainly in the high Andes, but is also grown in some parts of Gutatemala and in Southern Mexico, where it is called manzano.  Rocoto produces beautiful red …

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Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza)

Arracacha (Arracacia xanthorrhiza) is an Apiaceae family plant, also commonly known as Peruvian parsnip, apio criollo, zanahoria blanca, or white carrot. It produces fat whiteish roots that looks similar to a parsnip, with white, yellow, or purple flesh. The dark green, sometimes purplish, leaves look somewhat like parsley.  Arracacha is native to the Andean highlands …

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Granadilla (Passiflora ligularis)

Passiflora ligularis, commonly known as granadilla, is a Passion flower species that grows prolifically in our mountainside gardens and in the wild here in Ecuador. It is an attractive climbing vine with large heart-shaped leaves that have a purple-ish tint when young. Its flowers are incredibly beautiful and aromatic.  Granadilla produces oval-shaped orange fruits that …

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Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense)

One of our favorite Andean fruits to grow is naranjilla (Solanum quitoense). Also known as lulo, naranjilla is a Solanaceae (nightshade) family plant that produces an edible fruit popular in Ecuador and Columbia. Fruits have orange, fuzzy skin and tart, green flesh. Naranjilla is rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals & contains pepsin — an enzyme …

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Achiote (Bixa orellana)

Achiote, also commonly known as annatto, bija, or urucum, is a lovely evergreen shrub in the Bixaceae family that is native to parts of South and Central America. Today, it is grown in most tropical countries. About 60% of annatto seed is produced in Latin America. Peru is the largest producer and exports the seeds …

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Yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolia)

Traditional Andean food crops are hardy to the local climate and quite often thrive without much maintenance in our mountainside gardens. One of our favorites is yacón (Smallanthus sonchifolia), a sunflower relative that is native to Ecuador, Peru & Columbia. Yacón is in the Compositae family and is commonly known as jicama, despite having no …

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