Alchechengi: Care And Cultivation Of The Fruit

The alchechengi is an annual and perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Solanaceae family and is native to Mexico and North America. It is a species which can be found in the world in 100 and more specimens, which produce a single berry with a scarlet shade enclosed in a showy swollen calyx, long up to 5 cm, which becomes orange in autumn. The fruits are edible and can be utilized in stew or for the production of jams. Furthermore, the plant boasts anti-rheumatic, anti-rheumatic, anti-rheumatic, purifying and anti-inflammatory properties.

Soil And Climate Ideal For Alchechengi

In order to introduce a species of alchechengi in a particular area, it is necessary to make an assessment of the soil conditions in order to help the selection to a better adaptation. However, the alchechengi can develop in a wide range of climatic conditions and is classified as a very tolerant species due to its adaptability to Mediterranean climates and different soil types.

The ideal soil type is sandy-clayey, but it is important to avoid it becoming saturated with water and not to use those that were previously cultivated with other Solanaceae species. For what the solar orientation is concerned, the researches done till now have not shown any particular preference in this respect, but the botanists maintain that the priority is to be given to the northern or southern exposures which favor a better exploitation of the solar energy in the photosynthetic process of the plants. To obtain quality fruits, the alchechengi needs about 1500-2000 hours of light per year.

If you want to sow it in containers, the advice is to opt for the covered type at the beginning of spring. In order to start germination, you should keep the seedbed or tray at a temperature of about 18°C (germination is very slow and can last several weeks), and when this happens it should be moved outdoors as soon as the frost is over.

Alchechengi: Irrigation And Fertilization

For efficient cultivation alchechengi requires very accurate irrigation management which can be monitored through visual observation or with specific equipment. Drip irrigation, for example, must be ensured in the first few days after pruning to prevent the plants from drying out. However, watering should be periodic and vary between 2 and 6 litres of water per day for each individual plant. For fertilisation, it should be noted that for alchechengi, under ideal climatic conditions, the most important nutrients are nitrogen, potassium, calcium and boron. However, nitrogen is considered to be the most influential macroelement as it is responsible for the longitudinal growth of branches and fruit production. The application must contain 1 to 2 kg of poultry waste during sowing and 100 to 150 grams (10-30-10 or triple superphosphate) every 3 to 4 months. Potassium is also important as it is responsible for stabilising the flowering and the fruit itself and should be applied before sprouting.

The Fruits Of Alchechengi

The leaves of the alchechengi have an average length of 12 cm and are typically triangular in shape, but can also be ovoid and rhomboidal and of an intense green colour. The flowers, on the other hand, are similar to a bell and propagate at the height of the leaves with an inclined, star-shaped posture. They are about 2 cm long and creamy white in colour. The fruits, which is the only edible part of the plant, are berries with a diameter of about 1,5 cm contained in a chalice of paper consistency that is about 5 cm wide, similar to a cone. Inside the berries are the seeds, which have a circular and flat shape of about 2 mm. All the greenish parts are inedible; in fact, if ingested, they can cause disturbances to the gastrointestinal system, cause headaches and generate gagging. Many species of alchechengi are also identified with the name of Physalis, such as those characteristic of Peru.

The fruits of the alchechengi can be consumed both fresh and dried, and in the latter case they are also suitable for the preparation of tasty jams as well as for enriching fruit salads and creating excellent desserts. The leaves, although not suitable for food use, can be used for their shape and beauty for decorative purposes only. In China the alchechengi is defined with the name of “lantern”, is used to decorate window sills and entrance doors and in the latter case inserted in the classic garlands. It should be added that the dried berries and leaves are also suitable for creating an original and innovative centrepiece.

The alchechengi can be harvested in July in warmer regions and from September to October elsewhere. Harvesting can indeed last until November in regions where the climate is not favourable. However, this is essential as the plant does not survive the intense frost. Consequently, it is not necessary to wait for the first frosts because the entire harvest could be lost. Before consuming the fruit, among other things, you have to wait until it is ripe, otherwise it will leave an acidic taste in your mouth. Regardless of whether the variety is red, orange or green, to make sure they are ready to eat you need to check when the hull turns purple and then brown. In this condition it will start to open when the fruit is ready for harvest.

Diseases And Remedies For Alchechengi

These perennials require a lot of care, not for cultivation, but to prevent serious diseases that can occur due to various types of pests. The alchechengi in fact is subject to the invasion of cockroaches and fleas, in addition to the ever-present red spider. It is really a pity to see a beautiful form of pod during the summer, only to find it pierced like a Swiss cheese. For this reason it is important to take the right remedies to permanently remove these devastating insects. Neem oil and/or insecticide soap sprays can help against the majority of the insect pests. Various bacterial and fungal diseases attack the plant, so another important remedy, which is basically a trick, is to distance each one of them at least one metre apart, as the excessive proximity of the canopy promotes the spread of these diseases. In addition, it is important to cut and dispose of the foliage correctly during the autumn period, especially if the plants have had disease problems, in order to minimise their spread. Burning the leaves is certainly preferable instead of disposing of them together with other residues from various crops.

The Properties Of Alchechengi

The alchechengi plant has some well-known properties that are beneficial for man, the most important of which are: anti-rheumatic, anti-inflammatory, antiuronic and purifying. The fruit of alchechengi contains twice as much vitamin C as lemons. In addition to leaves, fruits and stems, the roots also provide properties that are exploited by pharmaceutical and herbalist companies for the production of medicines suitable for the treatment of diseases such as those described above. The alchechengi is therefore very healthy and in addition to the aforementioned vitamin C also contains A and antioxidant elements. Recent studies have shown that alchechengi extracts serve to protect the human body from certain liver and kidney damage. It has also been found that these fruits have anti-tumor properties. Alchechengi can also provide excellent results for people with excess weight problems. A 100-gram portion of ground berries contains just 53 calories and one gram of fat, so you can add them readily into your diet without having to worry about weight gain. Also, like many fruits, they include a respectable amount of fiber and even vitamin B. With reference to the latter, it should be added that 100 grams of ground berries include thiamine (0.110 milligrams), riboflavin (0.040 milligrams) and niacin (2,800 milligrams). Thiamine, for example, is needed to keep the central nervous system healthy (and is also nicknamed the “anti-stress” vitamin). Riboflavin, on the other hand, is used to facilitate cell growth and has a repairing function, while niacin is necessary for DNA structure and the maintenance of body energy levels.

In addition to what has been described above, it should be noted that alchechengi in Chinese medicine is used as a purifying agent to promote diuresis and thus remedy the stagnation of liquids in the bladder.

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