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This tree has branches like citrus, but the leaves are soft like a chili plant; and developing fruit is red.

In this location I would usually expect a Cumquat. I can return to this location for more data.

In Southern Australia.

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Four months later enter image description here

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    Huh. The bark does look like a citrus, but the leaves look more like something in the Solanaceae family, as you said. The closest thing I see so far seems to be a Tamarillo (which does have similar bark), but it doesn't appear to be that by the leaves and the fruit shape. It's got aphids! I've never seen a pepper that started out red. Were they green at one point? I'd be careful since they might be toxic. – Brōtsyorfuzthrāx Oct 10 '20 at 6:25
  • I will add pictures of fruit when developed – Polypipe Wrangler Oct 12 '20 at 9:52
  • Yes, I think you are right. New flowers indicate tamarillo. – Polypipe Wrangler Feb 15 at 6:32
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I think this is a hot pepper plant, one of the many ornamental cultivars of Capsicum frutescens. Although often grown as annuals, most cultivars of this species are short-lived perennials that can grow into a small shrub in frost-free climates. Capsicum frutescens cultivars are commonly used as ornamental plants. They're usually called "ornamental peppers." In addition to being pretty, they would be a good choice for a potted sidewalk plant because they like heat and sun, and tolerate drought.

Although you considered Tamarillo, notice that Tamarillo fruits grow in dangling clusters that hang down, whereas your plant has fruits that point up. Fruits that point up is a distinctive characteristic of Capsicum frutescens. Also notice the difference in fruit shapes, and the relative size of the stem compared to the fruit it supports.

Capsicum frutescens fruit:

enter image description here (closeup of an image on this page)

Tamarillo fruit:

enter image description here (image source)

Although I couldn't find any photos of pepper plant bark, I've seen similar streaky green and brown bark develop on garden-variety hot pepper plants, probably from the closely related species Capsicum annuum.

The flowers are pretty similar between Tamarillo and Capsicum species, so I wouldn't consider flowers a reliable way of distinguishing them (at least not without a much higher-resolution photo, and possibly some precise measurements of specific flower parts).

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  • I will pick one ripe fruit tomorrow, and look inside also. – Polypipe Wrangler Feb 16 at 12:32
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    One small detail is the way the stamen filaments of the flower appear to be fused to the petals and wide of the style. This is typical of Capsicum but not of tamarillo, where the style is tightly surrounded by clustered stamens. – Colin Beckingham Feb 16 at 13:54
  • @PolypipeWrangler Just don't rub your eyes after you cut the fruit open. You don't want hot pepper juice in your eyes. – csk Feb 16 at 19:41

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