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Portulacaceae: Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar or Fame Flower)

 
Posts: 47
Location: Piedmont, NC
9
forest garden homestead
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I haven't seen much mention of Talinum paniculatum (Jewels of Opar or Fame Flower). I keep track of the botanical family as well as scientific names because it helps me in understanding  what to expect. Up until 2006 one could have written that Talinum paniculatum was in the same family as (summer) purslane and miners' lettuce (or winter purslane). The taxonomists have apparently decided they aren't that closely related, since they separated the genus Talinum into its own family and  Portulaca into its own. USDA Plants hasn't caught up with these revisions and still lists it in Portulacaceae.

The map of where the plant is native in the US is curious, with populations apparently rare and scattered north of the 31st parallel:  https://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=TAPA2 One wonders if birds distributed seeds to the northern counties where the plant has been found and the population had just started when the  botanist collected the plant.

Buoyed by the thought it might be suitable, and happy of the thought of a summer green, it was an early plant in my gardening attempts. I was influenced by my understanding that Jewels of Opar was like miners' lettuce (which i had known from years of hiking in the Santa Cruz mountains) and so i had certain expectations. I had it in a shadier spot and wasnt surprised by its size there. I'm in 7b, and have had a plant come back a couple years. This year, i tried a planting in a much sunnier space and found out, wow!, how much larger and productive can this plant be! I'll be trying to protect these (along with my first year scarlet runner beans) .

I've got a rather tired red clay as soil, and my garden plot is where i suspect top soil was borrowed in grading the house site.  That's where my first plant is managing. The thriving plants are with amaranth and sesame on a small hugelkultur berm. The clay might have a bit more loam in it in this spot, but currently it's quite sunny. Hopefully the chestnut tree will change that.

The leaves are tender and succulent, and a bright yellow-green. They have a nice crunch, no bitterness, a slight earthy edge. They bruise easily. I seem to have snails EVERYWHERE this year, but the T paniculatum seems only slightly bothered. The flowers and seed panicles are lovely, suitable for arrangements fresh and perhaps dried, and definitely making seed collecting easy if you are at the edge of the perennial range.

I can't tell yet if deer or rabbits would graze it: i've grown my plants in protected areas so far. The unprotected plants may have been grazed away by a particularly rapacious bunch of rabbits this year or they're lost in goose grass. Next year i will try an unprotected area but in the sun.

A few permies who are closer to the 31st  parallel than i have written of the plants naturalizing, and some have the seed listed for sale.  My original seeds were from https://www.southernexposure.com/products/jewels-of-opar-fame-flower/, with an established plant it's easy to get seeds for the next year.


 
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Posts: 569
Location: Central Texas
211
hugelkultur forest garden trees rabbit greening the desert homestead
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JoO has been naturalized on my land since my great grandmother planted it when they built their house in the 1950s, which is where my parents live now. I live at the back of the property, which was just field/pasture until last year, so have been trying to introduce edibles and other, useful things that may be able to compete with some of the more undesirable stuff.
Lately I've been collecting the little berries from some of the Jewels in my mom's flower beds and broadcasting them in the food forest in hopes of getting them established to have access to a heat tolerant spinach substitute and (hopefully) have something that will compete with the crabgrass that always tries to take over the gardens.
I may be mistaken, but I believe it is more of an annual in my climate, and dies down in the winter with new seedlings volunteering in the spring. But my mom has had it show up in some of her tropical, potted plants and it survives when she moves the tropicals to the greenhouse for the winter.
 
Judielaine Bush
Posts: 47
Location: Piedmont, NC
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forest garden homestead
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I'm pretty certain about the one plant that has recurred from the older growth at the base. But it certainly seems that it should be a prolific self seeder. I hope to find that out this year, with the plants that have thrived in the sun.

Are your plants thriving in partial shade where you are?
 
Kc Simmons
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Posts: 569
Location: Central Texas
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hugelkultur forest garden trees rabbit greening the desert homestead
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Mostly partial shade. Some have shown up in the sunny beds, but they get a little shade from the other things growing in the same beds.
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