Sunday, March 28, 2010

Thankful for my Intelligence

There is something different about gardeners. We love to share what we have. Whether it be Vegetables, Fruits, Plants or Seeds. We love to swap things too. I will send you this, this and this, for your this and this. I have been swapping plants and seeds for years. There are a number of great sites to do this on, Gardenweb, Blossom Swap,, just to name a few. This is a great way to get rid of your extra seeds of something and get something else that you don't have. I love doing it!
HOWEVER, and this is going to be huge, make sure you know what your plants are that you are getting. Had it not been for my decent knowledge of plants, I could have been in trouble last year.
I was in a Hot Pepper craze last year (still am) and I was swapping for all kinds of peppers from around the world with people. I had been in contact with somebody, and honestly I don't remember who it was, to get some Trinidad Scorpion peppers (Capsicum chinense). These are some very hot Habanero type peppers from Trinidad.
They look something like this:

Well, we worked out the trade, I sent my end and he sent his. No problem. We did this sometime during the Winter, so I had to wait until Spring to plant them and grow my peppers. I couldn't wait!
Spring finally arrived and I eagerly planted all kinds of peppers. I ended up with 18 different types. I am very anal when it comes to tagging my pots, I like to know what works and what doesn't. Things started to germinate and all looked well, at first. Then as my "Trinidad Scorpion Peppers" began to get some height to it, something just didn't look right. The leaves were wrong. I got told by some folks that saw them that I was imagining things and it might just be the juvenile leaves. I wasn't convinced. The plant began to flower. Now, the flowers were wrong. The color wasn't right. They are suppose to be Blue:

Mine were orange. So, I thought, "Okay, I got some other kind of peppers, they aren't the Trinidad, but they should be okay". The leaves were still bothering me though.
After it started to fruit, I KNEW something wasn't right. Check out these pictures from the actual plant:

As you can see, nothing like the Trinidad Peppers. I had all kinds of people checking these things out. Nobody knew for certain what they were. I sent the very pictures you are looking at to a Chili Pepper Expert I know. What he told me scared the daylights out of me. My "Trinidad Scorpion Peppers' were actually Solanum pseudocapsicum 'Cherry Jubilee'. Jerusalem Cherry is it's common name. Fruits and leaves of Jerusalem cherry contain solanocapsine and some other substances which are toxic both to humans and animals. Ingestion of the fruits can cause nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea and weakness, supposedly it is not life threatening. They are still considered moderately poisonous.
I do not know how or why that person sent these to me. He could have gotten them mixed up, could have been a psychopath, I just don't know. I unfortunately do not remember who sent them. I would not have been able to prove anything anyway.
The moral, enjoy swapping plants and seeds with your garden friends. Once you are growing something that maybe unfamiliar to you, research the heck out of it! I was fortunate enough to know what pepper leaves should look like. I eat a lot of peppers and the results from eating a lot of THESE could have been very costly.
Happy Growing!

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