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L'alchechengi is an annual and perennial herbaceous plant, belonging to the family of Solanaceae, native to Mexico and North America, and nowadays also widespread in other parts of the world.
It is a species that is found in 100 or more specimens, capable of producing a single berry with a scarlet hue, enclosed in a showy swollen calyx, up to 5 cm long, which turns orange in autumn. The fruits are edible and can be used in various ways, including for the production of jams.
In addition, the plant boasts antirheumatic, antirheumatic, purifying and anti-inflammatory properties.
Cultivating the alchechengi
Before proceeding to cultivation of alchechengi, it is necessary to make an assessment of the conditions of the soil to favor the best adaptation. However, this does not mean that the alchechengi is too "expensive" a plant: it is in fact possible to find it in a wide range of climatic conditions, and it can be classified as a very tolerant species due to its adaptability to Mediterranean climates and different types of soil. .
However much the soil type ideal, it is the sandy - clayey one but ... it is important to avoid it becoming saturated with water and not to use those previously cultivated with other species of Solanaceae. As for thesun exposure, the research carried out so far has not shown particular preferences in this sense, but botanists argue that priority should be given to north or south exposures that favor a better exploitation of solar energy in the photosynthetic process of plants. To obtain quality fruit, the alchechengi needs about 1500 - 2000 hours of light per year.
Irrigation and fertilization
For efficient cultivation, the alchechengi requires a very accurate management of irrigation, which can be monitored through visual observation or with specific equipment.
L'drip irrigation, for example, it must be guaranteed in the first days after pruning to prevent the plants from drying out. However, irrigation must be periodic and vary between 2 and 6 liters of water per day for each individual plant.
For the fertilization, it should be noted that for alchechengi, in ideal climatic conditions, the most important nutrients are nitrogen, potassium, calcium and boron.
The leaves of alchechengi have an average length of 12 cm and are typically triangular, but they can also be ovoid and rhomboid and deep green in color.
The flowers, on the other hand, are similar to a bell and propagate at the height of the leaves with a star-shaped inclined posture. They are about 2 cm long and creamy white in color. The fruits, the only edible part of the plant, are berries with a diameter of about 1.5 cm contained in a goblet with a paper consistency 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 gastrointestinal disorders, lead to headaches and other prejudices to one's well-being.
The fruits of alchechengi can be eaten 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 only for decorative purposes.
In China, the alchechengi is defined with the name of "Lantern", And is used to decorate window sills and entrance doors (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 centerpiece!
The alchechengi can be harvested in July in warmer regions and from September to October elsewhere. The harvest can in fact last until November in regions where the climate is not favorable (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 you have to wait until it is ripe, otherwise it will leave a sour taste in the mouth. Regardless of whether the variety is red, orange or green, to be sure they are ready to eat you need to check when the "shell" turns purple and then brown. In these conditions it will begin to open just when the fruit is ready for harvesting.
The alchechengi requires a lot of care, not for cultivation, but to prevent serious diseases that can occur due to various types of pests.
In fact, the alchechengi are subject to the invasion of cockroaches and fleas, in addition to the inevitable red spider and ... it is really a shame to see a beautiful pod shape during the summer, only to find it pierced and pitted over the next few weeks.
For this reason it is important to take the right remedies to permanently remove these devastating insects. Generally, insecticidal sprays can be very effective against most insect pests, but the best thing to do in order to avoid any kind of injury is to move each plant at least one meter away from each other, as the excessive proximity of the foliage favors the spread of these diseases. Furthermore, it is important to properly cut and dispose of the foliage during the autumn period, especially if the plants have had problems with diseases, in order to minimize their spread. It is certainly preferable to burn the leaves instead of disposing of them together with other residues of various crops.
The alchechengi plant has some known beneficial properties for humans, the most important of which are antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, anti-uronic and purifying.
The fruit contains twice as much vitamin C as lemons. In addition to the leaves, fruits and stems, the roots also provide properties that are exploited by pharmaceutical and herbal companies to produce medicines suitable for the treatment of diseases such as those described above.
Alkechengi is therefore very healthy and in addition to the aforementioned vitamin C it also contains A elements and antioxidants. Recent studies have shown that alkechengi extracts serve to protect the human body from certain liver and kidney damage. These fruits have also been found to have anticancer properties. Finally, the alkechengi can provide excellent results for people with excess weight problems.