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Topics - KarenRei

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Tropical Fruit Discussion / Don't throw away those passionfruit leaves!
« on: February 19, 2018, 04:21:27 AM »
So, the other day I was looking at a mess of old passionfruit leaves and thinking... "I wonder if there's anything I can do with these".  So today I googled it.  Apparently they're quite edible, used fresh, as a cooked green, and dried in tea (credited as being relaxing, as well as a number of other health effects).

Wondering whether there might be any adverse health effects, I went to to search for peer-reviewed research... and found just the opposite.  Apparently they're being studied for use as an anti-anxiety medication, with quite positive results.  Examples:


They're also effective as a cough suppressant and an antiasthmatic in the right doses:


... and much more... basically a general CNS depressant with some nice effects. And they're quite antioxidant:

And antiinflammatory:

P. incarnata (maypop) appears to be the most potent medicinal passiflora, but most species contain the active compounds to come extent (the closest to P. incarnata is P. caerulea, followed by P. lutea and P. capsularis). The compounds are not found in any significant concentration in the roots, stems, or flowers; the leaves appear to be the primary source. Concerning extracts, methanolic extracts are about 10x as potent as aqueous extracts (tea) - but aqueous extracts are still effective.  More to the point, it appears to be the water-soluble fraction of the methanolic extracts that has the effect.

I think when I get  home I'm going to be doing some pruning  ;)  Hopefully the taste is decent.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / White sapote seed safety
« on: February 11, 2018, 07:57:44 PM »
White sapote seeds are said to be fatally toxic.  The general public is well known for not reading signs and doing stupid things. How much of a risk is there of a person who paid no attention to information given killing themselves with a white sapote?  E.g.:

 * Are the seeds fatal when eaten uncrushed, and is it possible to accidentally or intentionally swallow them whole?
 * If they're only fatal when crushed / damaged, is it realistic that a person could accidentally or deliberately do so with their teeth?
 * I've found a couple mentions of seedless trees.  Are seedless cultivars commercially available? I've heard that Suebelle is seedless in about half of its fruits...

Also, while we're on the topic, does the fruit actually make you sleepy?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Bignay: flowering and fruiting
« on: February 04, 2018, 05:48:15 PM »
Concerning bignay / Antidesma bunius:

1) Does anyone know the typical flowering and fruiting times?  The exact dates don't matter as much as the length of time in which they're in bloom / time the fruit is on the tree / length of the harvest.  The only thing I've found is one page mentioning that the harvest is 3 months.  The flowering time is particularly of interest as the flowers are foul smelling.

2) How long does the fruit last off the tree (shelf life)?

3) I'm finding mixed information about pollination.  The trees are dioecious, but one source says that female trees fruit abundantly without males, while another recommends one male for every 10-12 females.  What's the reality?

One of the fun things about working on a tropical plants database is all of the unusual species you run into in the process.  One of the odder ones I ran into recently is Boleko (Ongokea gore), a tall (up to 50m) African rainforest tree in the family Aptandraceae. 

The fruit is described as sweet but slightly astringent, with a smell reminiscent of apples.  The unusual aspect of this tree, however, is its seed oil, which is unusually made of fatty acids containing diacetyl groups.  As a consequence, the (inedible) oil doesn't dry at room temperature, but as you heat it up past 200-250C, it begins polymerizing in a highly exothermic reaction.  This speeds up the polymerization process; if heat isn't drawn away fast enough, the seed oil will explode. This aggressive polymerization property make it a useful additive to drying oils, converting them to a hard, wear-resistant, heat-resistant and chemical-resistant coating. It's used industrially to make brake pads, as an additive to silicone, and in advnaced adhesives (one has been patented for use in lithium-ion batteries).

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Apocynaceae pollination
« on: February 01, 2018, 05:53:47 PM »
So, I'm having trouble tracking down data on pollination of Apocynaceae species - in particular, what's monoecious / (functionally) dioecious and (if monoecious) what's self-fertile.  And in particular:

 * Ancylobothrys
 * Carissa
 * Landolphia
 * Saba
 * Tabernaemontana (T. elegans specifically)
 * Willughbeia

So far, I've found lots of references to many species having hermaphroditic flowers, so it's looking like this is a pretty standard feature of Apocynaceae.  I've not yet found a species confirmed to be monoecious.  Of a couple hundred species in thefamily checked, I've found several (but still quite a small fraction of the total) listed as dioecious / functionally dioecious:

 * Rauvolfia sellowii
 * Rauvolfia vomitoria
 * All three Fockea species (F. angustifolia, F. edulis, F. multiflora)
 * Carissa macrocarpa
 * Allamanda cathartica

Should I just assume that as a general rule, Apocynaceae are dioecious?  Does anyone have any more specific info about specific species?  I've seen a number of threads hearing about people complaining about growing landolphias or willughbeias that got huge but never set fruit, and I can't help but wonder if this is the reason.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Feijoa flowering (greenhouse)
« on: January 31, 2018, 05:30:13 PM »
From what I've seen, Feijoa seems to flower on a seasonal basis (May is often cited as a flowering time start).  Does anyone know how flowering behavior would be in a greenhouse environment?  Does feijoa need a cold period, or a low light period, or something else?  Or does it just flower whenever it feels like it if it never gets cold?  Also, how long are the fruit good off the tree?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Annona grafting recommendations
« on: January 24, 2018, 07:31:51 AM »
So, I was noticing that I now have 3 seedling annonas (1x cherimoya, 2x guanabana) which now have base diameters of maybe 7-15mm (1/4-2/5") - the largest being the cherimoya.  So I guess it's time to start thinking about grafting.  :)  This is a field in which I lack experience. What would you all recommend, both in terms of scions (cultivars, species) and techniques? 

 * Compact is desirable (esp. columnar, whether natural or trained). Want to get maximum diversity in minimum space
 * Productivity is obviously very desirable
 * Shade tolerance (particularly with respect to productivity) is desirable, but full sun is also acceptable.
 * Cold tolerance is irrelevant
 * Heat tolerance is desirable
 * Wind tolerance is irrelevant
 * Pest tolerance is generally irrelevant except for spider mites, which are always a pain indoors (other "greenhouse pests" are "potential" problems, but not constant ones).  There's no, say, annona seed borer indoors  ;)
 * Fungus is usually not an issue indoors (at least, hasn't been for me)
 * Humidity is currently "moderate" - higher than California, lower than Florida  ;) If the greenhouse project reaches completion there will be both high and low humidity sections. Otherwise, they'll continue to live in a moderate humidity environ.
 * Fruit preferences: I love cherimoyas. I love guanabana juice, though I've never had one fresh. I've never had a good sugar apple, only ones that were clearly way past their prime and probably shouldn't have been on the market. I've not tasted any other annonas.  I love "creamy" / "custard-like".  I'd rather not overly seedy, but I put up with them.  "Pretty" is a big bonus, because if they end up in the public greenhouses, "curb appeal" definitely matters (on the other hand, if they end up staying home with me, it's not as big of a deal).  A taste that appeals to the general public is good, rather than acquired tastes (thankfully annonas generally aren't "acquired tastes"!  :) ). 
 * "Rare" and "having a good story" are also desirable properties, although not requirements.
I have more seedling annonas (several more guanabana, one sugar apple, maybe a reticulata but I'd have to check), but they're not to grafting size yet. So this isn't the only chance I'll have.  :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Define "dappled shade"...
« on: January 17, 2018, 08:45:36 AM »
How do you interpret the phrase "dappled shade" in cultivation descriptions?  So far I've been working with three shade categories: "full shade" / "deep shade" -> "part shade" / "half shade" / "part sun" / "half sun" -> "full sun".

"Dappled shade" of course means that you have a spot that's shady but light is shining through in patches, as is common beneath trees.  But is that equivalent to "full shade" or "part shade"?  Or is it a new category in-between?  In my mind I picture part shade as being like, you have a plant that has a shadow cast on it by a tree for part of the day (a shadow that's probably in itself dappled), then in full sun for the rest.  With such a perspective, dappled shade would be darker, equivalent to full shade.  But I imagine that people adding the adjective "dappled" are trying to indicate that it's brighter than full shade.  Meaning that full shade would have to be like the forest floor of a deep, dense rainforest where almost no light makes it to the bottom (and thus very few plants would qualify as tolerating full shade)

How do you interpret it?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Landolphia and Friends: a dataset
« on: January 16, 2018, 11:58:44 AM »
I recently compiled a dataset of Landolphia sp., and former Landolphia sp. often still referred to by the monicker.  I'm wondering if any of you Landolphia growers have anything you'd like to add / correct?  I only included species for which I could find evidence that people actually eat them  ;)

Less humid species:

    * A. capensis (wild apricot, previously called Landolphia capensis): climbing shrub. Fruits rather large, "reasonably sour" but "very sour by the seeds")
    * A. petersiana (previously called Landolphia petersiana) - Sweeter and tastier than L. kirkii, and somewhat reminiscent of guava. May eat the rind if fully mature.

    * S. comorensis (mabungo, gummiklifurjurt, previously called Landolphia comorensis and L. florida) - "small seed large fruit". Liana a 20m. Fruits "round or slightly pear shaped and about the size of grapefruits", "soft reddish pulp within which are embedded a few seeds", "succulent, smooth, and either sour or agreeably subacid pulp pulls away easily from the rind". Usually mixed with water and sugar.
    * S. senegalensis ("Saba"; previously called Landolphia senegalensis) - Shrub or liana. Fruits the size of an orange, sour, with a flavour rather like a strange citrus. Full of seeds in sweet-sour flesh. Often mixed with water and sugar.

    * L. buchananii (Magi, Gebo...): Shrub 1-7m or liana 3-40m. 0,5-23cm trunk. Fruits eins largeir og appelsnur, 2,5-6cm. "Fruits edible, in Zimbabwe a conserve is made of it" (svo sour?). 40:60 flesh:seeds?
    * L. eminiana (malophi, umabungo, mpiri, etc) - Liana or shrub 3-20m. Fruits 3-10cm, rind 0,15-0,5cm, 5-15 seeds x 7-10cm. "The fruits .. are eaten in Rwanda, Burundi and Malawi"
    * L. gossweileri (Muhuni) - shrub, 0,15-70cm. Fruits 2-6cm, rind 0,1-0,7cm, 3-10 seeds x 7-14mm. Um 70:30 flesh:seeds? "The fruits .. are edible."
    * L. kirkii (bira, bulundu, dabehm, etc, sand apricot, wild peach) - liana 1-30m long, to 20m tall, needs a 7m tree to be productive. "The almost round fruits are about the size of a mandarin (tangerine). The tough skin encloses a very sweet, stringy pulp with numerous seeds embedded in it." Leaves also edible. Fruits 3x8cm / tangerine-sized, rind 0,25-0,5cm, 10-30 seeds x 6-12mm. 80:20 flesh:seeds? "... their tartness can put off the uninitiated" "Pulp of the fruit ... is edible, used in Mozambique to brew a strong liquor. In Kenya the leaves are eaten as a vegetable. ... Its rubber is used for many purposes, for example as chewing-gum (Tanzania)..."
    * L. lanceolata (malombo) - Shrub, 15-70cm. Fruits 0,2-2cm. "said to be delicious, easily obtanable and are often sold on markets"
    * L. parvifolia - Scrambling shrub 1-10m, up to 15m long, 1,5sm bolur. vextir 2-5cm, hi 0,09-0,4sm, 8-30 fr x 4-9sm.

More humid species:
    * L. calabarica (Bonjema, Holei, etc) - Shrub or liana up to 20m. Fruits up to 10x12,5cm. 50:50 flesh:seeds?
    * L. dulcis - used as a sweetener in Sierra Leone. Shrub 1-5m or liana 2-10m tall, 2-20m long. trunk 0,5-10cm. ~50% flesh/50% seeds? 2-8cm, rind 0,1-0,6cm, 5-50 seeds x 3-9mm. "Fruits ... are eaten."
    * L. foretiana (ugbo nikwa, avon, n'lombo, etc) - 9-40m tall, up to 80m, 5-30cm trunk. Fruits 4-20cm, 1-3cm rind, 5-50 seeds x 9-25mm. "The pulp of the fruits and the seeds ... are said to be eaten."
    * L. heudelotii (guinea rubber vine) - Liana 50+m. Trunk 40cm (starts out as a shrub). Fruits 2-5cm, rind 0,04-0,2cm, 1-10 seeds, 5-14mm. 90:10 flesh:seeds?  Grows under the canopy. "Fruits edible"
    * L. hirsuta (Eboi, Balwa, etc) - Liana 3-70m long, up to 40m tall. Fruits 3,5-9cm. Rind 0,5-2cm. 1-20 seeds, 7-14mm. "Fruits edible." "Very appreciated"; 32g flesh vexti. Confirmed significant levels of provitamin A.
    * L. landolphioides (Aquatayan, Avom, Dinga...) - liana 5-30m. Trunk 30cm. Fruits 5,5-7cm. Rind 0,04-0,75cm. 11-21 seeds x 6-13mm. "The fruits are eaten in Cameroon"
    * L. Ligustrifolia - Liana up to 30m, trunk up to 5cm. Fruits 3-16cm, rind 0,2-1,7cm, 5-100 seeds x 6-13mm. "The fruits are edible."
    * L. macrantha (E-Lonk (Temne), Am-Fenke (Kunike Temne)) - Liana. Fruits 2,5-4cm, rind 0,2-0,5cm, 8-15 seeds x 6-11mm,  "I find the taste so so at best.  Subtle sweetness, light and refreshing taste. Quite a lot of seed, not much flesh." "The fruits and seeds .. are said to be edible"
    * L. mannii (Yenese, Yanene, Anzoma... ) - Liana up to 40m tall / 100+m long. Trunk up to 30+cm. Fruits 7-20cm, rind 0,6-2,3cm, 15-130 seeds x 12-23mm. "The pulp of the fruit is abundant, very tasty and well appreciated."
    * L. maxima - Liana, 5-20m, trunk 1cm. Fruits 4-12,5cm, "said to be edible."
    * L. owariensis (Eta) -  "... swallowing the seeds after swishing the fruit around for just a couple of seconds. Speed is needed because the aromatic sweetness soon turns sour and intensifies until almost unbearable. ... we found one eta fruit, however, that never turned sour. Eating it was a whole new experience .. planted the seeds at our experimental fruit farm in Congo."  "Normally the pulp is merely dumped in water and left to soak a few minutes. Being highly acidic, it makes a lot of beverage. Sugar is added to taste."
    * L. villosa (Abam, Acamba...) - Liana up to 40m tall og 7-100m+ long, trunk 2,5-55cm, fruits 4-15cm, "The fruit is edible."

 * "the landophias i have tried are rather sour." 
 * "the Cassamance race of Landophilia which is sweet" [Casamance = region in Senegal south of Gambia; species in the region: L. dulcis, L. heudelotii, L. hirsuta, L. incerta; L. owariensis]
 * "I have heard many species of Landolphia initially seem sweet when you taste it and then the taste becomes almost overpoweringly sour."
 * "landolphia is idd sweet and than sour"
 * "Young Sab/Landolphia seedlings does well in full or shade while young willughbeia need to be in partial shade"
 * Fragrant flowers
 * Productivity generally said to be good, with interest in domestication of several species.

Useful references:

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Fruit with interesting stories behind it?
« on: January 13, 2018, 07:24:36 PM »
Part of the information we're considering for what to plant is the stories behind different plants, as a number of them are rather interesting.  Example:

Tucuma (astrocaryum vulgare): The Brazilian empire in the early 1800s was a pretty horrible place to be if you were a slave or native; they were heavily abused an exploited. While the nobility flaunted gold and silver as signs of wealth, the poor had no access to such things, and it became traditional in parts of the Amazon to make wedding rings out of tucuma shells. With time it spread beyond this usage to become a symbol of resistance against abuses and exploitation.  Today, tucum rings are used (particularly among Catholics in Brazil) as a symbol of "I stand with the poor and oppressed, regardless of the consequences for doing so).

What comes to mind when you think of plants with an interesting story behind them?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Hicksbeachia?
« on: January 12, 2018, 04:53:22 PM »
Anyone have any experience with Hicksbeachia nuts?  From what I've seen, everything about the trees looks gorgeous - the leaves, the flowers, the nuts - but I find little about the taste, and the little I've seen suggests that they may be subpar.

I've been looking into African fruit plants recently, for diversity.  One that came up was Olea capensis (black ironwood), a relative of the olive.  It has a number of interesting properties, including:

 * Abundant, sweet-smelling, monoecious flowers
 * Shade tolerance
 * Hardy to both dry and moist conditions
 * The densest known wood in the world (50% denser than water!)
 * Can potentially live for thousands of years
 * Attractive bark
 * While slow growing as an adult, young growth is at a moderate pace - faster than would be expected for a tree with the above properties

The big questions I can't find the answer to are about the fruit.  It's said to be edible and tasty, but not widely utilized. The taste hasn't been much described anywhere I've seen, beyond "succulent".  I'm a bit hesitant with a plant that isn't widely utilized in its native range - the question is always, why?  Is it like olives wherein the unfermented fruit is too bitter to be enjoyable, and you need to either ferment the fruit or press an oil out of them? Are the fruits usually inaccessible on higher branches?  Too much work in hand processing?  Or are they just no good?

The other big question about the fruit is also, obviously, how big does it need to be to actually fruit?  Not much use for a plant where you have to wait decades for it to grow into a giant tree before there's any yield, of course.

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Any duguetias worth cultivating?
« on: January 08, 2018, 03:32:17 PM »
Most of the duguetias I've seen described - while beautiful - are small and have little flesh on them.  Are there any duguetias worth cultivating?  Duguetia lepidota looks sizeable and has gotten pretty good reviews... anything else? D. marcgraviana?

And I guess more to the point, are any of the good ones actually accessible in terms of seeds?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Dwarf(ed) nutmeg?
« on: January 08, 2018, 02:22:45 PM »
Does anyone know if there's any dwarf nutmeg cultivars, or if it's possible to dwarf?  A 20m tree would be a weeeee bit much nutmeg  ;)  I've not found mention of any M. fragrans cultivars everywhere.  That said, Myristica is a huge genus, leading to no shortage of grafting possibilities - M. pygmea, for example, only reaches 20cm tall.  Or contrarily, are there any other Myristicas worth cultivating on their own that aren't giants?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / *Short*-lived tropical fruit trees?
« on: January 07, 2018, 04:03:26 PM »
Sort of the opposite of what most people want!  But as things grow up in the greenhouse, they'll be increasingly stealing each other's lights and soil space, so some things will need to go, and it'd be best if they were plants that had to go on their own.  Good examples would be papaya (production decline after ~4y, generally removed and replanted) and bananas (start over every time after fruiting).  Others?

So, something I've been thinking about - does anyone know how difficult it would be to acquire a couple live, ready-to-sprout Lodoicea "nuts"?  I understand that the Seychelles is relatively protective about them, although I understand that's mainly to avoid their export as exotic food or souvenirs.

Obviously they're slow fruiting, but even when young they're neat looking trees.  And our ceilings will be high enough for them  :)

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Ficus religiosa vs. Ficus carica?
« on: January 04, 2018, 07:23:51 PM »
This one is a bit more of an opinion issue (but would be nice to have some experience from fig growers).

For the greenhouse, I've raised the possibility both of cultivating figs (aka, F. carica), and - unrelated - of the possibility of a "Bodhi tree" (properly F. religiosa, ideally of proper lineage back to the original Bodhi tree... have not yet attempted to track down a source), which would be appealing not for food (obviously), but for meditation. We'll ignore for now the fact that I seriously doubt we'd be able to find and import one of a reasonable size (although it is said to be fast growing). The two issues - fruit and meditation - run contrary to each other, as F. religiosa fruit isn't eaten.  The thought occurred to me of grafting... but how well would F. carica likely graft to F. religiosa?  And - on the opinion front - would that be "ruining" F. religiosa if it had some branches producing figs?  Would it be best to just "cheat" on the meditation front, plant an F. carica, and go with the broader story of "Siddhartha Gautama meditated under a fig tree" and glance over that it was a different species of fig?

Complicating it even further, when I was looking up companies in the EU that could supply large fig trees, I found one that had some F. carica, but not F. religiosa.  But instead they had some lovely gnarly sculpted F. microcarpa (Banyans) that look like what most people think of when they think of a fig to meditate under. But they produce neither desirable fruit, *nor* are the right species!


Another thread related to the greenhouse project.  I've for years been importing seeds from all over the world, but rarely plants, as they're so much more expensive and a hassle to import.   To accelerate deployment in the greenhouse, it's obviously going to be desirable to import large plants in many cases.  I expect to have no trouble finding places that supply, say, common mango cultivars, common palm varieties, common avocado cultivars, and so forth.  But when it comes to less common plants, does anyone have any suggestions?  We'd be able to arrange shipping and permits (so long as they're a registered grower under phytosanitary control.. at least that's the limitation for imports from outside the EU), and could probably import anything that will fit in a truck and survive a road trip trip to the Netherlands or Denmark plus a 3-day ferry ride.  From elsewhere in the world they'd have to be airmail, and I don't yet know the size limitations on that.

I'm asking now, even though we don't have a greenhouse ready at the moment to import to, in order to get a sense of what might be available to import at some point in the future, and get a better handle on the costs.  :) 

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Fast growth rate megathread
« on: January 04, 2018, 02:23:33 PM »
So, I've been searching through the distant reaches of the forum and trying to build up a list of plants which grow quickly for the new greenhouse plan (consider these as "pioneer species", some of which may later be replaced with slower-growers for more diversity / quality).  There are of course two aspects to "grows quickly" - there's "reaches size quickly" and there's "fruits quickly".  We need some of both. 

Here's the results of my searching (all assuming "good conditions").  Please add more info where you have it (both growth rates and fruiting ages, whether from seeds or grafts), including disagreements with any of the info below.  Obviously for some of these (for example, pineapples), the plants are so small that we could literally just import them in an already-fruiting state   ;)  Plants from mainland Europe could arrive after just a couple days in a truck, as there's a ferry, so I'd think "truck sized" would be the limit. For non-European sourced, I have no clue what's the max you can manage by airmail, I'll need to research that.


1 year to fruit:

Papayas- 2m @ 6 months
Bananas (1-2 years)
Moringa (1 years to harvest leaves (earlier if you're mean), 2 for beans. In good conditions, 1m tall in just 2mo, 3m tall in 4mo, etc. Crazy fast.)
"Grafted cacao" = 14mo (really? how big of a grafted tree?)
Dwarf ambarella (6mo)
Fig (cuttings) = 1year (really?)
 * physallis
 * cubiu / cocona
 * naranjilla?
 * probably a lot more...
Acerola (cuttings) = >1yr
Ambarella  = <1years
Tamarillo = 1-2 years
Wax jambu = little over a year when grafted?
3-gallon citrus trees
Muntingia calabura / panama berry

~2 years:

Cambu-roxo  / rainforest plum = 2 year
Peanut butter fruit tree (1 year 8 months)
Abiu (grafted - what size?)
Miracle fruit (yeah, sounds right)
Peanut butter fruit (everyone seems to agree - 1 year 8 months was a stated time)
Dwarf grumixama (example of 1m tall and 5 fruit after 1 yr. After 2 years, in a 40cm pot, 2,1m tall with 50 fruit
Muntingia calabura / strawberry tree: 2 years to 3m with fruit.
Guava: 2 years
"Coffee sometimes"
"Grafted mango"

~3 r:

Abiu from seed
Biriba / rollinia
Carambola: Dwarf Hawaiian, 2m @ 25gal pot = 100 fruit per year. But in larger pots?
 * Sugar apple
 * Cherimoya
 * Guanabana
"Brandon's Red Jaboticaba"
Some Jackfruit seedlings
Grapes (...)

Said to be fast to fruit, but no time mentioned (okay, I'll admit, I could look some of these up, and probably will later this evening  ;)  Others will be harder to come by  )

Longan (slow growing first year, fast later)
Cambodian gooseberry
Thai Giant jujube?  Uneven reports
Eugenia neonitida Pitanga Tuba.
Eugenia pitanga and uniflora?
Cacao from seed?

Grows quickly, but what about fruiting?

Inga edulis (2m in year 1 is typical). Inga feuillei also fast. Also spectabilis.  "inga marginata maybe"
Mammea americana (1,5m @ 1yr)
African Sausage tree. (30cm -> 2m from spring to october)
Jackalberry tree
West Indian avocado: >2m @ 1 ra. (but I understand it takes like 5yr, grafted)
"Most vines"
Bamboo obviously grows very quickly - what are some good, exotic-looking, tasty bamboos with fast growth rates?  Would need a good containment approach (copper hydroxide?).

Fast growing, but not fruiting:

White sapote (10m in a couple years, but ~8 years for fruit. Deals well with shade)
Coconuts (at least early on, when they're drawing their energy from the seed.  Several meters tall in short order)

So much more that could be added!  And I probably will when I have a chance to go through the PFAF database (although the version I have currently is quite incomplete - the downloadable db doesn't match the site, and the people there are very unresponsive  :)  Seriously considering writing a scraper script for their site, as after all, I did pay for the right to download the data (and will donate more if it proves useful), so they can't really complain... 

I have a V. monoica which has behaved strangely throughout its life.  It grows strangely fast, reaches a couple meters high, then inexplicably dies.  Then sprouts again, does it again, then dies.  On and on.  I was sure it was dead the last time, and had even started stealing the soil from its pot for another plant, only to see brand new growth taking off, which is now up to about half a meter.  So far I've not been able to figure out what might be causing this.   I'm planning to monitor more closely for pests, although I've always cared for it pretty well so I don't think that's the case.  Has anyone else experienced this with any Vasconcellea species?

It's not really super-critical; I only have a male, and the fruits are supposedly not that good anyway.  But it's still a pretty plant worth having around. And this particular one is nice - I used to have two trees (one never came back from a dieback), but the other one had plain green stems, while this one has pretty red stems (hello genetic diversity from wild seeds!  ;)  ).

Temperate Fruit Discussion / Root heating?
« on: December 29, 2017, 07:32:03 AM »
Has anyone ever heard of the use of root heating as a means to zone-shift?  It's something I've been thinking about with the big greenhouse project, whether it might be possible to create an artificial microclimate so that warmer-weather plants (but not ultratropicals) could be grown outside, freeing up more interior space for ultratropicals-only. 

It strikes me from my reading that a large portion of plants are tolerant of having freezes affect their aboveground portions (at least for limited periods of time), but are zone-limited by their inability to withstand their roots freezing (and staying frozen all winter).  Likewise, when it comes to "growing seasons", it seems that it's often soil temperature that's one of the leading, if not primary, constraints on when and how fast plants grow.

Well, here in Iceland we have hot geothermal water, cheap.  It should be pretty easy to keep all but the topmost layers of soil from freezing without requiring an excessive amount of hot water (particularly if the top layers are blended with something like scoria to be extra insulative).  Likewise, we could easily boost "growing season" root temperatures by 10C or so.  It seems to me that such an artificial microclimate (particularly when combined with windbreaks) might prove amazingly effective. But I've never heard of anyone trying it before. Have any of you?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Spreadsheets?
« on: December 25, 2017, 10:28:22 PM »
Does anyone have any spreadsheets of edible tropical species?  (If not, I may need to start from scratch).  Sample columns would be things like:

 * Phylogenetic tree entries
 * Native range
 * Preferred summer temperature
 * Minimum temperature
 * Mature height
 * Typical cultivated height
 * Light needs when young
 * Light needs when mature
 * Soil type
 * Moisture requirements
 * Typical age to first production
 * Typical root spread at maturity
 * Typical root depth at maturity
 * Description of tree
 * Description of fruit
 * Other noteworthy properties

Etc.  Anyone have a spreadsheet that has... well, any of that, for any reasonable number of species?

ED: the PFAF database seems to have most of what I need,

ED2: ... or not.  Lots of neat stuff there, but I look up, say, annonaceae, and the only one they have is A. triloba!

Tropical Fruit Discussion / What makes dragonfruit spindly?
« on: December 14, 2017, 09:46:56 AM »
I've had dragonfruit here for years, but they've only ever put out a mess of fine, spindly growth, rather than the big, thick pads that I see on large dragonfruit plants.  What might be causing this?  Is it insufficient light?

Tropical Fruit Discussion / Rooting acerola?
« on: December 13, 2017, 08:14:10 PM »
Is it possible to root acerola?  I was clipping deadwood from my acerola this evening and (in addition to making myself itchy all over!) noticed that I'd accidentally clipped a few live branches as well.  I've got them in water right now. If it's possible to root them, what's the preferred method?  Sitting in regularly changed water?  Dipped in rooting hormone and put in moist soil?

ED: See further down.  I'm now part of the project!  And since you all are awesome peoples, I'm sure you'll help me pick plants, right?  ;)  Some constraints:

1) The highest point in the largest greenhouse is 20m.  Most plants will of course need to be smaller than that, since it slants down from there.  Only the most worthy should be allowed to reach the full height.  Plants can be constrained in size by limiting the available root volume where necessary, or by pruning.

2) There needs to be a balance between sun and shade plants. The south side will be prime real estate for sun, the north side moderate real estate (we actually get lots of northern sun in the summer), and then below the canopy of  course space for shade plants.

3) I'm thinking an interesting approach would be to group plants by region, so as you walk across the greenhouse it's like walking around the world.  So, say, South/Central America->Caribbean->Africa->India->Southeast Asia/East Indes->Australia->Pacific Islands

4) Plants should ideally be some combination of:
 A) Attractive
 B) Interesting (there will be tours, info signs, etc)
 C) Tasty/edible parts (with an emphasis on "superfoods")

5) A mix of long-lifespan and short-lifespan plants would be good, as well as fast growing vs. slow-growing ones.  This would allow for planting with higher density, knowing that some of the plants would die out and others could take over their space as they get bigger, rather than the canopy becoming overcrowded or having to thin plants.

Original post follows below.

So I can't believe I didn't hear about this until a week ago when they just got a provisional permit on their land:

There's a new startup that's working to build a tropical biodome in the middle Reykjavk, on a bluff overlooking a forested river valley in town.

Certainly not Eden sized, but still quite sizeable: 20 meters tall in the main dome (plus smaller domes), 3800 square meters (equivalent of a square 61 meters on each side).  The whole point of the project is to integrate the city into nature: they want to grow exotic tropical fruiting plants in the main dome (with more traditional crops in adjacent domes), and integrate into the main dome public squares, marketplaces, meeting rooms, adventure activities, restaurants that use local produce, etc. In a place which has such a long winter and such a large tourist market, this would be an amazing addition!

I haven't been very active on this forum in a while because my grow room is overly full, my house has progressed at a crawl, and the county permitting office went back on their word and said I'd need to go through the formal process if I wanted to build a large greenhouse  :  But since I found out about this project I haven't been able to stop thinking about it.  I messaged the founder and told her that I'd be thrilled to donate some tropical / exotic fruiting plants, and more to the point start importing more and cultivating them for her (the benefit for me, apart from an excuse to to spend more time with plants, would be that I could get rid of duplicates and bring in more variety without ending up with surplus that I have no room for  ;)  ).  Plus it'd be amazing to see how big my babies could get in a proper greenhouse!  She responded (translating) "Sincere thanks for the message and the great offer!  I think that's a really exciting idea... I'll get in touch with you!"  (I sent her an additional post asking about what their plans for temporary greenhouse space are and sent some pictures of my "inventory", but haven't heard back).  I so look for a chance to discuss this greenhouse because there's so much possibility, just thinking about all of the things you could grow in a 20 meter high controlled space!

Someone, slap some sense into me and help me get over my renewed case of tropical fever, before I end up importing thousands of seeds for plants I have no room for  ;)  hehehehe

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