They embody the very essence of fall on a single stem. These look just like miniature pumpkins. Both the color and shape of these small fruits are just as exquisite.
The name given to this plant really describes these seasonal fruits. They have deep ribs or indentations just like true pumpkins. Very dainty, they’re arranged randomly along the length of the stem. For the fullest effect, remove all the foliage so the fruits are fully visible.
Pumpkin-on-a-stick makes an excellent accent or focal stem for fall bouquets, baskets, and other arrangements. In addition to combining them with other flower stems, you can also use the stems alone. Pumpkin-on-a-stick stems can be several feet or so in length.
Pumpkin-on-a-stick also makes an outstanding everlasting. As the fruits dry, the color becomes slightly lighter. Allow the fruits to become fully ripe before cutting the stems. Otherwise, they won’t last as well.
To look at pumpkin-on-a-stick, you wouldn’t realize these are actually related to the lowly eggplant. Yes, they’re edible.
The drooping, star-shaped flowers are purplish. These are similar to those of any other eggplant.
Eggplants are native to Africa and Asia. There seems to be some disagreement among plant experts as to the proper Latin name for this plant. Some say it is Solanum melongeana. Others regard it as Solanum integrifolium or Solanum aethiopicum. In any case, this doesn’t affect its status as a floral or cutting garden plant.
There are other related species that are used as florals in the same way as pumpkin-on-a-stick. These include nipple fruit (Solanum mammosum). Baker Creek Heirloom Seed sells seeds of this plant.
Like any other eggplant, pumpkin-on-a-stick is grown as an annual. However, in warm climates it can behave as a short lived perennial. This can be planted either in cutting gardens or in vegetable plots.
Pumpkin-on-a-stick plants are erect and bushy. For best results, start the seeds early indoors. Then, transplant outside after the danger of frost is past. The transplants will need watered on a regular basis.
Territorial Seed listed pumpkin-on-a-stick seeds in its 2008 catalog. I hope they do the same for 2009.
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