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"And the LORD God made ... trees that were pleasing to the eye ..." Gen. 2:9, New International Version.

"Bonsai isn't just something I do; it's part of what I am." Remark to my wife and daughter.

Friday, June 30, 2017

"A Heat-Tolerant Leafy Green Vegetable Disguised as a Flower"

     That is how a writer at Southern Exposure Seed Exchange described "Jewels of Opar," Talinum paniculatum, also known as "fame flower" and "pink baby's-breath". The blossoms certainly bring jewels to mind: they are a deep carmine-pink, less than 3/8 inch across (.8 cm or less), and carried on panicles so delicate that the slightest breeze makes them dance in the air! 😊

This picture doesn't do the blossom color full justice, but it's about the best my small camera can do.
The strand of spider silk in the picture was left when I removed a small web.
Talinum paniculatum is a member of the purslane family, Portulacaceae; it is native from the Gulf states of the USA well into South America. Sources I checked differed widely in regard to its cold-hardiness, giving minimum survivable temperatures from 35° to 20° F. (I'm going to keep mine with my serissas in winter.) The plant is apparently tough, tolerating heat and fairly dry soil. The leaves are said to be a good substitute for spinach, especially since they don't wilt in hot weather.

Darlene Kittle, current president of the Fort Wayne Bonsai Club, gave me a seedling after the club's Fall Show last September. (She had sold several and didn't want to take the last one home.) I have it in a small pot for now, but it will need a larger one sooner or later; the species grows to 18-24 inches (45-60 cm). 

Here's a picture taken a few days after I got it and after I potted it up.

Talinum paniculatum, September 27, 2016.
When Darlene gave me this plant, I thought the yellow-bronze globes were the flowers. Now I'm sure they are seed pods. (You can see one peeking out from behind and below the blossoms in my first picture.) That conclusion is supported by the seedlings that can be seen coming up in the substrate in the next picture, taken nine months later. (Five days ago.)

"Jewels of Opar" with new growth, a new panicle developing, and babies around the base!
I'm sure I'll try a leaf or two sooner or later, maybe in a salad. But for me this plant will always be a "leafy green vegetable disguised as an accent!"

:-)  :-)  :-)

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