Thursday, June 18, 2009

Do Not Bemoan The Spines, Part 1

They call this the porcupine tomato plant, Solanum pyracanthum, or firethorn nightshade - you get the idea.

In this unseasonably cool early summer, they haven't started to flower, even at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. In a few weeks, light purplish blue flowers with yellow anthers will bloom, soon to be followed by small round greenish yellow fruits- just like a tomato.

But need I tell you that those thorns mean business? I would suggest strongly that this plant be admired for purely ornamental reasons, and that one desists from eating this "tomato." For one thing, being of the nightshade family, the deadly- deadly, as in poisonous - qualities of select nightshades are reputedly truly potent. And this particular one would fall in with that reputation.

But look at those gorgeous flame-orange thorns against the glaucous leaves. Wicked plants can be beautiful too.