Miracle Fruit Synsepalum dulcificum

Guess what I got!!

The Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) is a plant first documented by explorer Des Marchais during a 1725 excursion to its native West Africa. Marchais noticed that local tribes picked the berry from shrubs and chewed it before meals. The plant grows in bushes up to 20 feet high in its native habitat and it produces two crops per year. It is an evergreen plant with white flowers that produces small red berries. The seeds are about the size of coffee beans.Although the berry itself is not sweet, it contains an active glycoprotein molecule with some trailing carbohydrate chains called miraculin. When the fleshy part of the fruit is eaten, this molecule binds to the tongue's taste buds causing bitter and sour foods to taste sweet. This effect lasts between 30 minutes and two hours, and eating more than one fruit does not increase the intensity of the modification.

It is unfortunate that heat destroys the active principle, so that canning, jams, preserves, baking, drying, etc. are impossible. However, the fruits can be held for an indefinite period of time by refrigeration or freeze drying.

Miracle Fruit's natural sweetening power is perfect for:
* A fun twist on everyday food
* A diabetic watching sugar intake
* Picky eaters eager to add some sweetness to healthy foods
* "The Night Crowd" looking to sweeten that tequila or vodka drink
* Chemotheraphy patients having trouble eating (eliminates the bitterness)
* Healthy eaters intent on cutting out the 'crash' of a sugar high without losing the taste
* Anyone who likes making food taste sweeter/better!!!

What a cool idea! (check out the video)

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Jicama - Mexican Potato

This week I am testing this newly discovered Vegetable. Never heard of it until I saw it "on sale" in a local grocery flyer and decided to look it up. I wont have the room to grow it, but will definitely taste it. Here is what I've found out about it.
Will post more about it, after a dinner that includes Jicama :)

Jicama looks similar to a turnip or a large radish, and it can be used as an alternative to the water chestnut. Its skin is thin and can be gray, tan, or brown in color. Additionally, it has a short root and contains white flesh. The skin is typically peeled before eating it raw. Raw jicama tastes similar to a pear or apple. It also does not discolor when exposed to the open air for awhile. Because of this, raw jicama is often used as an accompaniment to raw vegetable platters. When jicama is used in cooking it tends to take on the flavors of the ingredients that it is being combined with. Therefore, jicama is a nice complement to various stir-fry dishes because it blends well with many vegetables and seasonings.

Jicama is a very versatile vegetable that contains a high amount of vitamin C, is low in sodium, and has no fat. One adult serving of jicama, which is equal to approximately 1 cup of cubed jicama or 120 grams, also contains only 45 calories.

Serving Size (60g)
Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value *
Calories 25
Calories from Fat 0
Total Fat 0g 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 1g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A 0%
Vitamin C 20%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

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More Adenium

This is a picture I took this morning! It actually turned out alright! Wohoo! My Husband usually takes the "amazing" shots :)
Like that single bloom image.

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Dioscorea bulbifera - The Awesome invasive Pest

Synonym(s): air potato, bitter yam, air-potato, air yam

Air potato is an herbaceous, twining vine that can grow to lengths exceeding 60 feet. It invades open areas in the sub-tropical southeastern United States. The leaves are alternate, long (8-12 inches), wide and heart-shaped with prominent veins that resemble greenbrier leaves. The rounded stems are thin and wiry. The chief means of reproduction are aerial potato-like tubers (bulbils)
located at the leaf axils. The vine rarely flowers. Air potato can form dense masses of vines that cover and kill native vegetation including trees within a variety of habitats such as forest edges, hammocks, and many disturbed areas. It was introduced from Africa for food and medicinal purposes in the early 1900s. Air potato is a common and widespread food crop throughout most tropical regions of the world.

Note: This plants is highly invasive, but with the responsible proper care and maintenance a showy garden specimen as you can see from my backyard pictures.

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Ixia Viridiflora

Family: Iridaceae (Iris Family)

Common Names: Green Ixia, Groenkalossie, Green Flowered Corn Lily

I stumbled across this beauty on the web. African flower, rare and endangered. - searching for a seed supplier :)

Ixias have been cultivated in Europe since the mid 1700's. Getting material of the true species is difficult and growing them is more challenging. Ixia viridiflora although quick to flower from seed, is not the easiest of the ixias to grow, as it is quick to rot in poorly drained soil. The basic requirements for growing this ixia are: sandy soil with good drainage, a sunny location, and a completely dry, dormant period in summer.
Ixia viridiflora makes an excellent pot plant but is not well suited to a permanent position in the garden, even in winter rainfall areas. They are susceptible to fungal diseases, are eaten by mole rats and porcupines, and need a completely dry summer. To deal with this problem, one can plunge pots of Ixia viridiflora into the garden during the growing and/or flowering period and remove them during the summer dormant period.
Corms should be planted in autumn (April-May) while still dormant. You will need a pot at least 30 cm in diameter. Place a layer of stone chips over the drainage holes and fill three quarters of the pot with a freely-draining soil mix, e.g. equal parts coarse river sand and fine compost (leaf mould). Plant the corms in a 1 cm layer of pure river sand and cover with a 1 cm layer of the soil mix. Water thoroughly immediately after planting and place in a spot that gets at least half-day sun. Once growth becomes visible, a good drenching every ten days is recommended. Because Ixia viridiflora is tall, it may need to be staked if your garden is windy. Inorganic fertilizers should be avoided, particularly high nitrogen fertilizers, but organic fertilizers can be used sparingly. When the leaves begin to dry, stop watering altogether. The corms can be left in the pot, provided it is stored in a cool, dry spot. It is advisable to lift them every second year. This gives you the opportunity to clean them, inspect them for disease and discard the badly damaged ones.

Seed should be sown in autumn (April-May) in a sunny spot, in well-drained medium at a depth of 3-5 mm. Sow thinly and allow good ventilation, otherwise damping off may occur. It is best to use a seed tray that is at least 10 cm deep, or raised seedbeds. Keep the soil moist and germination should occur in three to four weeks. Ixia viridiflora is a rapid grower, and can produce its first flowers only seven months after germinating although most seedlings will flower in their second season. It is best to leave the seedlings undisturbed until after their second season.

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June Toon

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Salpiglossis Sinuata

Also - Stained Glass, Painted tongue. This plant is extremely hard to find and as well as beautiful. I am on the hunt for seeds.

This Chilean Native plant has its natural habitat at the foot slopes of the Andes Mountains and is sometimes found at the coastal cordillera, in full sun exposures and well drained soil.
In our zone 9b it is an herbaceous perennial, reaching 50 to 80 cm height (20 to 31") and a diameter of 30 cm (1'). They bloom during spring, producing white, red, blue, yellow (and all colors in between) 5 cm large flowers, with very contrasting veins of a different color.
Salpiglossis is very easy to cultivate, is a fast grower and blooms the first year from seeds. A good choice for new gardeners.
Propagation: sow directly in nutrient rich soil (compost/regular garden soil rate 2:1) in early spring and pick once the plantils have two real leaves. Deadhead if you want a long blooming time.

Salpiglossis requires staking or the support of other plants.

Edited: Sept 3rd, 2008
Here is a Place I found them to be sold

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Showy Melastome Medinilla Magnifica and Medinilla cummingii

What a beauty! One of my overseas gardenfriends emailed me those pic's. This plants for me shows definatetely a "need to have" symptom.

Medinillas are very beautiful plants but unfortunately a nasty pest in the tropics. Tropical evergreen epiphytic shrub grown for its lush foliage and huge panicles of pink flowers.

Use a GOOD rich potting soil (a soil that retains water yet drains well), such as an African violet mix. Use a pot with a hole.

Watering: Keep the soil barely moist and if you use rainwater, be careful as it could be acidic. Use warm water.

Fertilizer: Feed every two weeks during the spring and summer with a water soluble fertilizer diluted by half.
Propagation: Stem cuttings with bottom heat in the spring through summer. It is best to propagate any type of cuttings in a mixture of moist peat and perlite. Cover the pot and plant with a plastic bag secured by a rubber band to prevent the moisture from escaping. Place in indirect sunlight or under a fluorescent light. Repot in its regular mix after it has been growing for a while.

Mist frequently with warm water (lime free to avoid leaf staining) and avoid drafts. Place pebbles or gravel in the drainage dish to hold water and increase the humidity, make sure the pot is sitting on the gravel and not in the water. Should be pruned after flowering and repotted every spring. Needs sufficient light to bloom.

US Source for Medinilla seeds

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Terrestrial Bromeliads

I've finally bought seeds of the Puya Alpestris. No, they havn't arrived yet!
(pictures are borrowed from various botanical garden sites)
This Giant Bromeliad has a caudexes like stem bearing a dense rosette of narrow , spiny Variegated leaves Shiny Light Gray Green and recurving 2 to 3 inches wide . Silvery Gray beneath. Pyramidal flower spikes over 3 ft long of funnel shaped Metallic Blue flowers and Orange anthers
. Hardy in zones 9 -10.
An indoor plant in all but the most mild wintered areas . Planted out doors it should be in full sun and protect from excessive w
inter moisture. Grow indoors as a fantastic Bromeliad specimen. A good cactus mix for soil works well , place in an area that has full sunlight.

Here are some other varieties:

Puya Mirabilis
Puya Alpestries

Puya Berteroniana
Puya Venusta
Puya Santosii

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Madagascar Colville’s Glory

We have another Seedling!

One out of 10 seeds sprouted (so far). I've learned that the "boiling heat" of 100+ degrees helped this one to come up. We hope for more of course.

Colville’s Glory (Colvillea racemosa) is a species of legume in the Fabaceae family. It’s a rare flowering tropical tree - difficult to find and cultivate.
It’s conservation status is ‘Near Threatened’.

Colville’s Glory is a beautiful, large tree from Madagascar with large pinnate leaves and very conspicuous cylindrical or cone shaped clusters of bright orange flowers that are bright red in bud. It is a sight to behold when it shows off its fiery blooms. Its grape-like clusters of velvety buds range from chameleon green to blood orange.

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