Edible plants for Halloween

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Orange pumpkins are the icon of American Halloween festivities. But the holiday is actually All Hallows Eve, a time when ghosts may emerge from their graves and scary things can happen at night. That opens up many more possibilities for plants for a Halloween garden. When you are selecting Halloween inspired plants, go for the interesting, the spooky and the night-blooming. Read on for some tips about choosing first edible plants with a Halloween theme then with scary names.IMG_20150920_172316

Edible plants
I wanted to find some edible plants for Halloween and for my surprise I came across with couple of them in my local grocery shop. Here are the popular Halloween flavory plants for this year:

1st On the first place was the Hexenfinger (Carpobrotus edulis). What it’s good to know about it? It’s a ground-creeping plant with succulent leaves in the genus Carpobrotus, native to South Africa. It is also known as Hottentot-fig, ice plant, highway ice plant or pigface and in South Africa people call sour fig (suurvy). Actually it belongs to the fig-marigold family (Aizoaceae), and it’s one of about 30 species in the genus Carpobrotus.

The Hexenfinger is easily confused with its close relatives, including the more diminutive and less aggressive sea fig, with which it hybridizes readily. C. edulis can, however, be distinguished from most of its relatives by the size and color of its flowers. The large, 2.5 to 6 inches (64 to 152 mm) diameter flowers of C. edulis are yellow or light pink, whereas the smaller, 1.5 to 2.5 inches (38 to 64 mm) diameter C. chilensis flowers are deep magenta. On the flowers, two of the calyx lobes are longer, extending further than the petals.

The sour fig grows on coastal and inland slopes from Namaqualand (Namibia) in the Northern Cape through the Western Cape to the Eastern Cape. It is often seen as a pioneer in disturbed sites. Flowers are pollinated by solitary bees, honey bees, carpenter bees,  carpenter bees, and many beetle species. Leaves are eaten by tortoises. Flowers are eaten by antelopes and baboons. Fruits are eaten by baboons, rodents, porcupines, antelopes, who also disperse the seeds. The clumps provide shelter for snails, lizards and skinks.  Puff adders and other snakes, such as the Cape cobra, are often found in Carpobrotus clumps, where they ambush the small rodents attracted by the fruits Ice plants grow year round, with individual shoot segments growing more than 3 ft per year Ice plants can grow to at least 165 ft in diameter.

Flowers are produced mainly during late winter-spring (August–October). They open in the morning in bright sunlight, and close at night.

On the Mediterranean coast, Carpobrotus has spread out rapidly and now parts of the coastline are completely covered by this invasive species. Moreover, another invasive species, the black rat, has been shown to enhance the spreading of the ice plant through its feces. As the ice plant represents a food resource for the rat, both benefit from each other

Its leaves are edible, as are its fruit, as with some other members of the Aizoaceae family. In South Africa the sour fig’s ripe fruit are gathered and either eaten fresh or made into a very tart jam. Carpobrotus edulis, also known as igcukuma in the Xhosa language, is a medicinal plant used by the traditional healers in cases of common infections in HIV/AIDS patients

2d the Rungia klossii

This plant originated and very popular in Papua New Guinea, Rungia klossii is a fast grower bushy herb, common named ‘Mushroom Plant’ due to its leaves special mushroom flavor! Rungia klossii’s beautiful green glossy leaves contain large amounts of iron, vitamin C and beta carbonate. The leaves have a crispy texture, similar to spinach and can be eaten raw in tossed salad, tucked into a sandwich or use as a great garnish. The mushroom flavor increases with cooking (in soups or stews). Pay attention that over cooking can make the leaves lose their bright color. So it is recommended to add it at the last minute of cooking. The mushroom plant likes to grow in warm conditions, preferably in shade. Grow it all year long in your garden, pots or planters and enjoy a unique culinary experience.

3d Tripmadam

Sedum reflexum or Sedum rupestre, also known as reflexed stonecrop, Jenny’s stonecrop blue stonecrop, stone orpine, prick-madam and trip-madam, is a species of perennial succulent plant of the genus Sedum, native to northern, central, and southern Europe.

It’s a popular ornamental plant, grown in gardens, containers, and as houseplants. It is drought-tolerant. There are named cultivars with variegated (multi-colored) leaves. Through vegetative cloning it is propagated from cuttings.

This sedum is prone to fascination, which produces attractive cactus-like forms, with irregular curves. However it reverts easily, so all normal offshoots need to be removed quickly to maintain the cristate form. The Tripmadam is occasionally used as a salad leaf or herb in Europe, including the United Kingdom. It is said to have a slightly astringent or sour taste.

4d Winter and summer savory

The Satureja Montana (winter savory or mountain savory), is a perennial, semi-evergreen herb in the family Lamiaceae, native to warm temperate regions of southern Europe, the Mediterranean, and Africa. It has dark green leaves and summer flowers ranging from pale lavender, or pink to white. The closely related plant, summer savory (Satureja hortensis L.) is an annual plant.

There is evidence of its use about 2000 years ago by the ancient Romans and Greeks.

Easy to grow, it makes an attractive border plant for any culinary herb garden. It requires six hours of sun a day in soil that drains well. In temperate climates it goes dormant in winter, putting out leaves on the bare stems again in the spring – do not cut the plant back, all those stems which appear dead will leaf out again. It is hardy and has a low bunching habit. It can be used within a herb garden as an edging plant.

It is used as a companion plant for beans, keeping bean weevils away, and also plant with roses, reducing mildew and aphids.

In cooking, winter savory has a reputation for going very well with both beans and meat very often lighter meats such as chicken or turkey, and can be used in stuffing. It can also be used in soups and sauces. It has a strong flavor (more than summer savory), while uncooked but loses much of its flavor under prolonged cooking. It can be added to breadcrumbs, as a coating to various meats including trout.

Winter savory has been purported to have antiseptic, aromatic, carminative, and digestive benefits. It has also been used as an expectorant and in the treatment of bee stings, or insect bites, by the use of a poultice of the leaves The plant has a stronger action than the closely related summer savory.

Taken internally, it is said to be a remedy for colic and a cure for flatulence, whilst it is also used to treat gastro-enteritis, cystitis, nausea, diarrhea, bronchial congestion, sore throat and menstrual disorders. It should not be prescribed for pregnant women.

The plant is harvested in the summer when in flower and can be used fresh or dried. The essential oil forms an ingredient in lotions for the scalp in cases of incipient baldness. An ointment made from the plant is used externally to relieve arthritic joints.

In traditional herbal medicine, summer savory was believed to be an aphrodisiac, while winter savory was believed to inhibit sexual desire (an anaphrodisiac). A French herbalist Maurice Messegue claimed that savory was ‘the herb of happiness’!P1130297

And now here are some Halloween inspired plants with scary names

Why not grow witches’ thimbles or devil’s nettle in your spooky Halloween garden? If you’ve never heard of witches’ thimbles, it’s an alternate common name for both the foxglove and bluebells. Devil’s nettle also is called yarrow. Several centuries ago a gardener who grew these plants was labeled a witch, but today these are great plants with a Halloween theme. Look for plants with weird or creepy names when you are choosing Halloween garden plants.

Here are a few ideas: Bloodroot, Bleeding heart, Blood lily, Dragon’s blood sedum, Snapdragon Voodoo lily (Voodoo lily plants are grown for the gigantic size of the flowers and for the unusual foliage. The flowers produce a strong, offensive odor similar to that or rotting meat. The smell attracts the flies that pollinate the flowers. The blossom only lasts a day or two.
Consider making name tags so that these Halloween inspired plants create the proper scary effect.

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