sobota, 2 września 2017

Manchu Tubergourd (Thladiantha dubia)

Thladiantha dubia (Manchu Tubergourd, Goldencreeper or Wild potato) this is perennial climber up to 6 m long (frost-resistant to zone 5/6) native to China and Korea. It survives all winters (even very hard) without mulching in zone 6b. Very rarely cultivated in Europe or America and very ornamental - numerous golden-yellow flowers and red fruits. It creates round or oblong smooth yellow tubers about 2-8cm (1-3 inch) long (which are reportedly edible but I advise to be careful) and tasty red fruits that resemble the fruits of the passionfruit in structure. They have hard hairy red skin and juicy orange flesh with about 40-100 small black seeds inside. There are the informations in many sources on their suitability for consumption. In my experience, I can say that they are very delicious, something aromatic and very sweet, but edible in the raw state only in small quantities, as they irritate the throat while eating (like eating mild chili pepper) - probably due to containing calcium oxalate raffin. But long (2-3 hours) cooked fruit pulp (without seeds) loses its irritating properties and is very tasty, even in large quantities. 
 

Growing: It can be propagated both from tubers and seeds. The seeds need be sown on the surface in light place in pots with well drained soil, and kept moist. The fungicide can help. Later, after last frosts, the young plants can be replanted outside. Climbers planted in the garden often move to neighboring areas (the old bulbs are dying, and the new bulbs are created in distance to them) - hence the plant makes the impression of a wanderer - grows from another place every year and can cover very large area within a few years. Dioecious plant. Our insects do not visit its flowers, because there is a fat oil inside, not a nectar. In nature the flowers are pollinated by small Asiatic bees which belongs to genus Ctenoplectra. To creating fruits in Europe or America (where lacks these bees) you need to pollinate flowers by hand. Female plants also form small, seedless fruits without pollinating. 

Female flowers:

Male flowers:





(the coin on the photo is size about 2,5cm = 1 inch)





niedziela, 27 sierpnia 2017

Pampas Lily of the Valley (Salpichroa origanifolia)

Pampas Lily of the Valley (Salpichroa origanifolia) it is perennial native to temperate areas of South America but naturalised in North America, Europe, Africa and Australia. It is wild relative to numerous solanaceous edible fruits as for example Ground Cherries (Physalis spp.). It is somethimes grown as ornamental or for its fruits. 

 
It is low (to about 60 cm = 2ft tall), wide (spreading by woody rhizomes), something scandent herb (trying to climb). It creates a profusion of small white flowers – similar to Common Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) and next white oblong berries (10-18mm = 0,4-0,8 inch long), which are edible and very fragrant (with mild taste). The species epithet „origanifolia” in latin name refers to similarity (in shape) of leaves to Oregano (Origanum vulgare). But they are not aromatic and are inedible (only medicinal). It is regarded as noxious weed in Tasmania and prohibited there.
Growing: It loses its aboveground parts in cold areas but regrow in spring from its roots. It is said to be very cold and frost hardy and I heard that it can survive winters outside without mulching in Europe as north as in Bulgaria (the rhizomes grow very deep, even below freezing zone in soil, so the plant can survive in frostly areas, although it is frost sensitive). It is self-incompatible and to creating fruits it needs at least two genetically different plants. In first year from seeds it starts to flowering in late summer, but later in next years, if plant is in good condition, it blooms from June to August or September and fruits starting to ripenning in August. It is pollinated by bumblebees (much larger than flowers, so the pollinating looks very interesting). It can be propagated by seeds (sown surface and kept moist, warm, in light place – easy) or dividing of rhizomes.






There are a few other Salpichroa species in South America - if You have available the seeds of any of them please write to me.

Annual Passion Flower (Passiflora gracilis)

In both Americas there exist over 500 species of Passion Flowers but only the one – Passiflora gracilis – is true annual. It is wild relative to well known tropical fruits as Passion Fruit (P. edulis) or Sweet Granadilla (P. ligularis).

It grows in wild state in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Guyana, Brazil and Ecuador. It is medium size, branched climber (to about 2-3m = 7-10 ft long if grown in temperate areas) with small (about 2,5 cm diameter), but very lovely flowers and oblong bright red fruits (inedible) which break when fully ripe and show orange flesh which coating black seeds. Leaves are shallowy tri-lobed and stem with characteristic, small but distinct cork outgrowths.
Growing: Plant is propagated by seeds. They geriminate usualy difficult and in small rate. Soaking them in GA3 solution (2000ppm by 24 hours) can realy help. They should be sown surface and keep warm and moist in light place and well drained soil substrate (in pots, in spring). Plant very good grows in small (2-3 liter) pots (and it is said that all Passion Flowers bloom better if kept in small pots than in open garden). It can be take outside after last frosts. It blooms all summer and creates ornamental fruits since August. It can be successful grown outside in zone 5/6 and warmer. As it is said to be annual it starts to blooming easily in 1-2 month of living and continues flowering in next a few months.






sobota, 26 sierpnia 2017

Wild Potatoes (Solanum sect. Petota)

The common potato (Solanum tuberosum) is a staple food in numerous parts of the world. But not everybody knows that there are over 200 species of wild relatives of common potato. They all grows in mostly temperate (mountain) areas of South and Central America and southern part of North America.
 The comparison of appearance of tubers of 5 wild species
(more photos bellow)
Some of them do not creates tubers (series Etuberosa) but numerous other bear ones. They have various colour and shape, but they are usually small and they grow up on very long stolons (to 1-2 m = 3-7 ft long), so they need to be cultivated in pots (to easier find the tubers in soil). Some of them are edible after cooking, other need a special processing to become eatable. They often have very good taste. The fruits (berries in various shape and color) are inedible and mildly poisonous, the same as leaves.
Growing: They can be propagated by true seeds (hard to find) sown surface in pots inside in spring, or tubers planted outside in direct place in April. Some species are very hardy and can survive winters in open garden in zones 6/7. They are often more diseases resistant then common potato (and are hybridized with it to increase a resistance cultivated varieties). They are often self-incompatible so to creating of berries and true seeds they need at least two genetically different plants.

I growed a few species:

Solanum stoloniferum (Mexican Wild Potato)
Species which belongs to taxonomic Longipedicellata series. Herb with long stolons and brown, small (0,25-1,00 inch = 0,6-2,5 cm diameter) tubers. Tubers are edible after cooking and are pleasant eating, tasting somewhat like a sweet chestnuts. Plants grows to about 2,5ft (70cm) tall. They create numerous white flowers with yellow center. Plant native to Central Mexico - dry areas, from 1,800-3000m (=6000-10000 ft) altitude. Species potato blight / alternariose resistant. Can be hybridized with common potato and other wild potatoes. Tubers can survive without protection outside in zones 6/7 and warmer. 





 (boiled tubers)

Solanum fendleri (Fendler's Wild Potato, Fendler's Horsenettle)
Species which belongs to taxonomic Longipedicellataseries. Herb with long stolons and brownish-violet, small (0,25-1,00 inch = 0,6-2,5 cm diameter) tubers. Tubers are edible after cooking and are pleasant eating, tasting somewhat like a sweet chestnuts. Plants grows to about 1 ft (30 cm) tall. They create numerous lavender and violet flowers with yellow center. Plant native to North-Western Mexico and South-Western USA - damp leaf mould, usually under Pinus ponderosa trees, from 1,700-2850m (=5500-9500 ft) altitude. Can be hybridized with other wild potatoes. 







 


Solanum jamesii (Colorado Wild Potato)
Species which belongs to taxonomic Pinnatisecta series. Herb with long stolons and brown, small (0,15-1,20 inch = 0,4-3,0 cm diameter) tubers. Tubers are edible after cooking. Plants grows to about 1ft (30cm) tall and creates numerous flowers in summer. Plant native to N. W. Mexico and S. W. United States - for example coniferous forests at altitude1600 - 2500 meters (5000-8000 ft) in Arizona. Frost hardy to zone 8/9. Species potato blight / alternariose resistant (in a large degree). Can be hybridized with other wild and cultivated potatoes. 


Solanum acaule var. caulescens (Devil Potato, Wild Andean Potato)
Belongs to taxonomic Acaulia series. Herb with long stolons and small, whitish (0,5-1,5 inch = 0,4-4,0 cm diameter) tubers. Tubers are edible after cooking. Plants grows to about 1ft (30cm) tall and creates numerous beautiful blue flowers in summer. Species native to Peru, Bolivia and N.W. Argentina - on alpine meadows, by patchs, walls, drainage ditches, cultivated fields, etc. at altitude 2600 - 4650 meters (8666-15500 ft). Something frost hardy. Species potato blight / alternariose resistant (in a large degree). Can be hybridized with other wild and cultivated potatoes.








Solanum chacoense (Chaco Wild Potato)
Belongs to taxonomic Commersoniana series. The herb with long stolons and small brown (0,25-1,50 inch = 0,6-4 cm long) round or ovate tubers. The tubers were eaten (probably after processing) by Indians in the past. Plants grows to about 1,5 ft (45 cm) tall. Plant native to Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and southern Brazil – grows as field weed in lowland pastures (from sea level to 2350m = 7800ft altitude). Can be hybridized with other potatoes. Very ornamental plant - flowers showy white with yellow center, leaves glossy, lovely. 
 




Solanum infundibuliforme (Bolivian Wild Potato)
Belongs to taxonomic Cuneoalata series. Herb with long stolons and whitish small (0,25-1,00 inch = 0,6-2,5 cm long) ovate or elongate tubers. The tubers were eaten (probably after processing). Plants grows to about 1 ft (30 cm) tall. Species native to central Bolivia to northern Argentina - in dry rocky areas, from 2350-4300m (= 7800-14300 ft) altitude. Can be hybridized with other wild potatoes. It probably survives outside in zones 6/7 and warmer if kept dry. Drought resistant. It has not flowered in my experience.






Solanum morelliforme (Epiphytic Potato)

Belongs to taxonomic Morelliformia series. Small shade-loving epiphytic or epilytic herb with simple (not pinnate-compound) leaves and little berries. Native to Mexico and Guatemala - wet mountain forests 2000-3000m (= 6666-10000 ft) altitude. I had no success with growing it (small seedling died and has not created the tubers).

There exists very numerous wild species yet. If you have available the seeds or tubers of any of tem please write to me.