Guest Author - Connie Krochmal
Among the pereskias, there are several species that are popularly grown as houseplants or garden plants.
THE MOST POPULAR PERESKIAS
A number of pereskias are in cultivation with a few of those being the most popular.
The Barbados gooseberry or lemon vine (Pereskia aculeata) is grown both for its lovely flowers and edible fruits. A climbing vine-like plant or bushy, this species has many stems that are typically four to six feet in length when it is grown in containers. When grown as an outdoor garden plant, this can be much taller—twenty feet or more in length. The very thin stems are clothed with sharp, curving spines that develop in clusters. These occur on the stems as well as in the leaf axils. The glossy leaves usually shed during the winter months. This is oblong to lance-like, tapering at both ends. It is nearly three inches long.
In the summer and fall months, Barbados gooseberry has spectacular, cup-like blossoms that are often fragrant. They grow to over two inches across. Often, these are white or yellow. However, they can have pinkish highlights. One of the more unusual features of the blossoms, which open in clusters, is the showy orange stamens.
The delicious fruits eventually ripen and turn yellow. Their skins are transparent.
In addition to the species plant, there are varieties of Barbados gooseberry with very colorful foliage in shades of brownish-orange to red.
This plant is propagated by cuttings.
This is one of the taller, tree-like species. This is nearly 25 feet in height. It is noted for its very large foliage, which can reach over seven inches in length. They emerge on long leaf stalks. This plant has spines that are a little different than that of the other Pereskia species for they are black. In most other pereskias, these will be beige to tan. The reddish-pink blossoms open on stalks.
Native to South America, this has cylindrical slender stems. This species tends to have fewer spines than the others. Appearing alternately on the stems, the long slender foliage grows to around 1˝ inches in length. The red blossoms open near the tips of the shoots in bunches.
Native to South America, this species assumes a tree-like growth habit. It can be nearly 20 feet in height. The branches are succulent. These are covered with spines. Tapering to a point, the foliage is nearly four inches in length. The pink to pinkish-lilac blossoms open in bunches.