Saturday, June 27, 2009

Longing for, Lusting after... Rare Solanums!

Longing for...  Lusting after.....  Coveting 

Plant lust can be an addiction.
In particular, I've a penchant for Solanum species, aka Nighshade.

I once wrote in Garden Design magazine, "show me a plant with attitude and I swoon."

Solanum atropurpureum

doubtless scared away more than a few garden visitors. A tall, rangy shrub marked by purple-black stems densely covered in thorns, it's another South American species.

An unexpectedly vigorous growth habit eventually compelled me to say au revoir, and  I ceremoniously removed it from the intimate space of the patio. Not a good spot to admire the plant's strange beauty. 

Solanum pyracantha...
has appeared here and there in the garden over the years.

Tender perennial set apart by furry textured leaves, and a rich purple hue on new growth and spines.
Now growing in a container,
S pyracantha boasts blue-green foliage complemented by orange spines and pale lilac blooms.

(Images scanned from my archive of 35 mm slides.)

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  1. I have a small Solanum quitoense. No spines yet, but it's still very groovy. It's growing pretty fast right now too, with this warm weather.

  2. Wow, that S. pyracantha is crazy -- like a potato flower on a Martianlike body. Interesting.

  3. I have a secret passion for solanaceae (if they're still called that) and love these solanums. S. quitoense is choice, I'll have to look that up. Did you get the S. atropurpurea seed from JL Hudson? Only place I've ever seen it. S. atropurpurea is on my list for when I get a bigger garden...

  4. I had a love affair with Solanums too! They are incredible feats of architecture. Thanks for bringing them back to the forefront of my mind!
    Hope you are well,

  5. Chuck, I expect a full report & lots of photos as those gorgeous leaves take shape and spines appear. I lost S. quitoense after a cold, wet winter. The garden was new and I was a newbie to California. Had the plant been in a sunnier spot with better drainage, perhaps it would have survived. Still, my microclimate is colder than yours. So best of luck.

    Helen, S. pyracantha is a looker, for sure! I'm enamored :)

    PB, the Solanaceae family is surely vast - trees to herbs to shrubs, with great garden specimens like Brugmansias & Nicotiana.
    These Solanum species are so oddly eye-catching, I'm not surprised they stir a secret passion!
    Sorry to say, I can't recall where I purchased the seeds for S atropurpurea. I vaguely remember a friend might have passed them along to me.
    Have you moved yet? Will there be a bigger garden in your future?

    K, I'm realizing that I'm not alone when it comes to loving these unique garden specimens.
    I'm well but sweltering ... a heat wave is upon us.

  6. Oh, Tendril, you are a gardener after my heart!
    I ADORE Solanum pyracantha and am planting 2 in my garden next weekend - they are in their pots waiting for me to hem and haw and find the perfect spot.
    And you know I MUST get S. atropurpurea, somehow! I'll move heaven and earth when I'm obsessed! Hell, I need all three!
    Thank you for this beautiful, witchy solanum triumvirate! You are always illuminating - you DOLL!

  7. Germi, I'd love to see how they grow in SoCal. I've only observed these eccentrics in the Pac NW when given special care, or in the Bay Area. From you as well as Chuck, I expect a FULL report and pics in your personal haven!

    I'm thinking there's the nucleus of a new group for those of us mesmerized by solanums: solanumizers? Well, maybe not.

    I'll work on it! Or stop by again with your own suggestion, Alice
    aka tendrils