Baby’s first spines

I am a completely proud parent.  On a garden visit last summer I came across a plant I’ve been wanting for a few years now, and with the permission of the owner I was able to swipe a few seeds.  This spring they were planted and I can’t be happier with my little babies.

Solanum pyracantha porcupine tomato

Solanum pyracantha, aka the porcupine tomato, showing the first signs of it’s prickly personality.

If all goes well this bizarrely beautiful and offensively spiny young plant will grow up to be covered with grayish leaves studded all over with orange spines.  It’s not a plant for everyone but it sure fits right into my misguided obsession with sharp and thorny weeds.

What is it about Madagascar that makes this relative of our own docile tomato so dangerously spiny?  This small island seems to have more than it’s share of viciously thorned plants and based on what I’ve seen it isn’t exactly the place for flip flopping, shorts wearing tourists.  But I have to say I’m looking forward to seeing this guy grow up, I think the kids will love it!

34 comments on “Baby’s first spines

  1. johnvic8 says:

    Please, please be careful. Those spines can be pretty nasty.

    • bittster says:

      Thanks John, I will.
      Believe it or not my roses seem to be the plant most likely to scratch and scar this gardener. Maybe my guard is down when I’m around their flowers and fragrance.

  2. Alain says:

    That looks really vicious. I take it that it is annual in cold climate. Does it come back from the root?

    • bittster says:

      This one will be completely annual and winter should save me from any horrible weed problems. In my head I imagine taking it inside for the winter, but then I also imagine the complaints this will cause from the less spine tolerant family members.

  3. Did you ever read The Layered Garden by David Culp? Nice picture of that plant in there. But you don’t fool me. All these plants with thorns are to teach your kids that they do not want to lose their soccer ball in Dad’s garden. It’s too dangerous!

    • bittster says:

      heh heh. They were so good about stepping on plants when younger, now they need to get that ball back into play at all costs, and don’t care if a few things get trampled along the way! -so I try to plant things out of harm’s way. These days are passing too quickly as it is, I’d hate to waste time grouching about a snapped off iris bloom.
      …a crushed snowdrop would be a different story of course 😉
      I’m a big fan of David Culp and I love his book. I spent a while going through it this winter, maybe deep down inside it registered that I NEEDED this plant!

  4. Christina says:

    I know just what you mean by feeling “like a proud parent”

    • bittster says:

      It’s true isn’t it? I really can’t take credit for how many of the plants in my garden do, but I still get this weird feeling of being proud for them!

  5. Pauline says:

    Do they have the spines to stop the lemurs from eating them? They look quite vicious thorns, do take care!

    • bittster says:

      I’ll be careful.
      Lemurs must be quite a hungry bunch. So much of the Madagascar landscape seems studded with spines. I believe there is also a recently extinct ‘elephant bird’ which inhabited the island up until a few centuries ago. An ‘elephant bird’ would seem to have a mighty appetite as well!

  6. mattb325 says:

    Ouch, those spines do look like they mean business. I guess the pride and the pain of parenthood go hand and hand with this one 🙂

    • bittster says:

      haha, I hope there’s less pain than the spines seem to promise. It’s grown a new leaf since the last photo, and looks entirely more dangerous!

  7. Cathy says:

    Congratulations! I am averse to any thorns, particularly quince or Berberis. But those do somehow look cute. Reminds me of when I was a child and stroked a cactus…. Take care!

    • bittster says:

      I happen to be one of those people who realize something looks sharp, but just aren’t satisfied until they know for sure just how sharp it is. Darwin’s law should have taken care of this compulsion eons ago…..
      Berberis are one thorny plant group which I am done with. Unless I could get a few of the evergreen ones to grow, their blooms look like they might be worth a little trouble!

  8. Forgive me, Star Trek fans, but if this plant ever gets a cultivar name it absolutely has to be ‘Resistance is Futile’. 🙂 If ever any plant would be grown in a Borg garden, this one should be it!

    • bittster says:

      I grew something equally spiny a few years ago called ‘purple malevolence’ plus there’s a related ‘bed of nails’ plant… You could easily plant out an attractive little Borg garden and cruelly plant a little lamb’s ear in the center. I wonder if the lamb’s ear would just shrivel up and die in such a threatening environment?

  9. Interesting! In your previous posting, was your son battling the plant? P. x

  10. rusty duck says:

    I want one. Surely none of my resident critters would want to eat that?

    • bittster says:

      You would think something so spiny would be safe from attack, right?
      Perhaps I should dig up my docile boxwood hedges and put in a nice border of this plant. That should keep a few things out (including me!)

  11. Interesting! So will it produce tomatoes?

  12. An ‘obsession with sharp and thorny weeds’ isn’t one I’ve come across before, Frank. But I can see the appeal – sorta.

    • bittster says:

      We all have our issues I suppose, but I’m sure you’ll love this thing once it gets bigger. Maybe not priory worthy, but it will likely have a nice medieval torture look to it at maturity 🙂

  13. Cathy says:

    A very scary plant. But your lad with the secateurs in a previous post looked like he was man enough to stand up to it!

  14. Chloris says:

    Goodness, the things you like. It looks positively sinister to me. But I mustn’ t be rude about your babies.

    • bittster says:

      Thank you Chloris, even an ugly baby deserves a little cooing and fussing for the sake of the parents. Here the boy was quite the unattractive little thing when he first arrived, fortunately by now he’s grown out of it.

  15. The Belmont Rooster says:

    AWESOME!!! I grew one of those in 2012!

    • bittster says:

      Hey Belmont! I was glad to see you back at blogging again, you’ve always got such interesting posts and good taste in plants and I missed that. Here’s to a great summer!

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