Plants of the Week: September 8

Plants of the Week: September 8

Asimina triloba

How exciting it is to be at the Scott Arboretum during the brief time when paw paws are dropping their fruit. Remarkably, even though paw paws are the largest tree-fruit indigenous to North America, this season, in my 23rd year of being alive, has been my first encounter with one of these delicious gems. The tree itself is not much to the untrained eye and would likely pass under the radar of the average student or arboretum visitor. Right around this time in late summer, however, it starts dropping its lovely fruit for the keen scavenger to loot and abscond with. They are precious, flavorful fruit that I would liken to a mixture between banana and mango and are generally the size of a grocery store kiwi (sometimes larger if you are lucky). The flesh has a custard-like texture and it harbors several almond-sized seeds. The shelf-life is limited as they are only tasty between the time they fall off the tree and when they turn black, which ends up being only about 3-4 days. A. triloba is one of the few members of the family Annonaceae to be found in temperate climates and its native range spans from southern Pennsylvania into Georgia and as far west as parts of Kansas and Oklahoma. photo credit: J. Bickel

 

Nicotiana sylvestris

I was in the Theresa Lang Garden of Fragrance when this plant caught my attention. The tall stalks, when in flower, have long, dangling, white, tubular flowers in panicles above very large leaves. The seemingly random placement of it led me to conclude that most of it was self-sown. I thought its sweet aroma made a lovely addition to the theme of the Theresa Lang Garden of Fragrance. However, further investigation led me to find that it is actually a close relative to Nicotiana tabacum, which is widely grown for consumption; some sources say that N. sylvestris may have played a role in hybridization parentage for the tobacco widely used today. photo credit: J. Bickel

Salvia guaranitica ‘Black & Blue’

Yet another find in the Theresa Lang Garden of Fragrance! Salvia and its many variations never cease to amaze me. This particular cultivar offers a highly attractive electric blue corolla of the bilaterally symmetrical shape commonly seen in Salvia. In comparison to the species S. guaranitica, the main difference is the interestingly contrasting black calyces as opposed to the normal green. This gives the flower an added depth and seems to make the electric blue shine more prominently.  Its presence in the fragrance garden at first was curious to me as the flowers have little to no scent. Resources say that the bruised leaves purportedly smell of anise; I will have to test this for myself next time I am at the fragrance garden. photo credit: J. Bickel

John Bickel
jbickel1@swarthmore.edu
2 Comments
  • Laerte Silva
    Posted at 21:05h, 24 September Reply

    Can I get some paw paw seeds?

    All the best,

    Laerte

  • Andrew
    Posted at 08:46h, 25 September Reply

    Laerte,

    We have very few fruits on our trees so probably can’t provide you with any seeds. I am sure there are many purveyors on-line of Asimina triloba, paw paw seed.

    Andrew

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