Fun facts

Fun facts about plants

French Marigold / Tagetes Patula

Once a plant is infected with nematodes there's not much you can do. That's why it's best to use preventive measurements like planting marigolds. Marigold's roots are toxic to lesion nematodes (pratylenchus). Lesion nematodes kill plants by eating their roots. They are very threatening to agriculture and bulb cultivation.

There are different types of marigold, only tagetes patula kills nematodes.

But tagetes patula attracts trichodorus nematodes and those are carriers of the tobacco rattle virus. This virus can reduce the quality of some crops.

So it's best to send a soil sample to a lab to check which nematodes are in the ground before you plant marigolds.

Tree tomato/ Tamarillo / Cyphomandra betacea

Tamarillo is a fast growing halfshrub that prefers a subtropic climate.

The fruit can be purple, red, orange or yellow with or without dark stripes. It has a light sweet taste and a bitter skin. It's usually eaten with sugar or without the skin. You can use it in the same dishes as you would a tomato.

Cherimoya / Annona Cherimola / Momona

The cherimoya tree originates from South-America.

It doesn't need a certain soil type, as long as there's enough water and permeable soil.

It does need a lot of light and grows really wel in a frost-free climate at a hight of 1000m where the temperature is a bit lower.

The oval fruits can be up to 20cm long and have a very sweet taste. They are full of vitamins and fibers and are low on calories.

The seeds are not edible but can be used as a natural insecticide.

Dragon fruit cactus / Hylocereus undatus / Pitaya

Legend says that the dragon fruit was spit out by a dragon during a fight. The soldiers took the fruit to their king who grew a collection of plants from the seeds.

These days dragon fruit grows on a cactus that can crawl, climb or hang.

Its flowers only bloom at night.

The fruits can be yellow and red, have about 90% water, vitamine C and A, calcium and iron.

This cactus grows fast and is easy to cultivate. It likes a lot of sun, isn't picky about soil and prefers a bit more water than most cacti.

Moringa Oleifera / Drumstick Tree

This tree is nicknamed the 'miracle tree' because it has a huge nutricional value and many medicinal properties.

The fruits, flowers and leaves are edible and packed with vitamins, calcium and many other important things.

The seeds are used to purify water and to make vegetable oil.

The roots reduce fever and help with pain.

This tree is incredibly useful, that's why it's used more and more to battle malnutricion in development countries.

Indian Cress / Tropaeolum majus

Indian cress is a trailing plant that only survives in frost free areas.

It attracts plant lice and the caterpillar of the cabbage white butterfly and keeps the greenhouse whitefly at bay.

The flowers (with a lot of vitamin C), leaves and seeds are edible and taste a lot like horseradish.

Papaya / Carica Papaya

Papaya fruits can weigh up to 6kg, have a very sweet taste, contain a lot of vitamin C and a little iron and calcium. They grow on the stem of the tree.

The seeds are sometimes dried and used as pepper. Due to their laxative effect they also serve as medicine against parasitic worms.

Papaya juice stimulates digestion.

The fruit's peel is useful for treatment of small wounds.

The papaya tree grows very fast and gives fruit after only 10 months.

Unfortunately it doesn't live forever but usually lasts about 25 years.

Frost is fatal, the papaya tree is a sun-worshipper.

Porkbush / Portulacaria afra / Elephant bush

The porkbush originates from South-Africa and can survive in extreme drought.

It can grow from seeds and from cuttings.

It is a perfect plant to use in the battle against desertification and its flowers have a lot of nectar which is interesting for bees.

In the wild the porkbush is the favourite meal of elephants - hence its nickname 'elephant bush' - but it's also eaten by humans and can be used for medicinal purposes, especially to treat diabetes.

The leaves taste a little like lemon.

Spineless cactus / Opuntia ficus indica var inermis / Indian Fig / Nopal

The spineless version of the indian fig does have glochids but not as many as the other versions. The glochids are also easier to remove (not with your bare hands!).

Indian fig is easy to grow and needs only a minimum of water.

Once you have a plant you can cut off a pad and just put it in the ground, a new plant will grow from it.

This cactus doesn't just have nutricional value but is also a perfect weapon against desertification.

The leaves, flowers, stems and fruits are edible and have an abundance of fiber, antioxidants and carotenoïds.