November 24, 2017

Out of Peru

Nicandra physalodes var. - Black-stemmed shoofly or 'Apple of Peru'

Janine Pineo Photo | Nicandra physalodes var. – Black-stemmed shoofly or ‘Apple of Peru’ growing in The Heirloom Garden of Maine in Center Montville

Nicandra physalodes var. - Black-stemmed shoofly or 'Apple of Peru'

Janine Pineo Photo | Nicandra physalodes var. – Black-stemmed shoofly or ‘Apple of Peru’

A prolific bloomer is black-stemmed shoofly, a variation of Nicandra physalodes, the lone species in the genus Nicandra. The “plain” shoofly doesn’t have the black stems, just the usual green. Also known as Apple of Peru, this native of Peru is a member of the nightshade family, with all parts of the plant being toxic. It is a vigorous grower that can easily reach more than 3 feet in height when started from seed here in Maine. The bell-shaped flowers are a pale blue-violet with a white throat. After pollination, “a globose fruit forms inside the persistent calyx, resembling a tomatilla” (which is also a nightshade family member). It is from those fruits that plentiful seeds fall, making it a potentially weedy addition to the garden even here in Maine. But it is a beautiful one, and so might be forgiven for a bit of aggresiveness. Just remember to keep it separated from your edibles.

Photographed during Open Farm Day at The Heirloom Garden of Maine on July 22, 2012.