Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Unfinished business: Ardisia elliptica berries

Just one final visit with the Ardisia elliptica berries on the plants at the garden center. They're now completely ripe. The pictures could be more exciting, I suppose, but this at least nearly-completes the whole life cycle. We've covered the flowers in July, then the unripe berries in December, and now the ripe berries in February. This seems like an unreasonably long time to take to make seeds, but I don't have a lot to compare to. So maybe it's faster than I give credit for.

The final stage of the life cycle would be to collect berries, plant the seeds, and get a new plant out of them, but I'm not sure I'm that interested. I mean, I'd have to buy the plant, and although it's a nice, big plant, it's also $40, which is a lot of money to spend just for a few seeds that I may or may not even be able to get to germinate.

And anyway, I have berries developing on my plant at home. They're much slower -- only now beginning to turn pink -- but that's probably to be expected; it's drier and darker here than the plant would like. Maybe in a few months.


BernieH said...

I have a few of these great shrubs growing in my garden too ... and I just love watching the slow change of the berry colour from red to dark purple to black. It takes a couple of months over here as well.

Liza said...

How come berry clusters always strike me as cheerful? They just look happy.

Are these berries edible or good for anything other than seeds?

mr_subjunctive said...

I'm pretty sure they're poisonous, except for some reason to birds. Same with the other common indoor Ardisia (coral berry, A. crenata). Which is too bad.

James David said...

Very cute looking berries. You must be very patient for your long wait..
But you mention they are poisonous??
So, why are these berries precious??

mr_subjunctive said...

They're not so much precious as . . . I don't know. It's a plant doing what it's supposed to do, which is neat, and I could (in theory) use the berries to propagate, eventually, which is also neat. Because I enjoy propagating stuff.

Anonymous said...

How big is the plant with the berries now? I just repotted the one in the office to a 14" pot and I'm wondering how soon it will be (if ever) before I see the flowers and berries.

mr_subjunctive said...


I think the plant with the berries flowered when it was three separate plants, all in 6-inch pots. Now, it's in maybe a 10- or 12-inch pot. Overall height maybe three, three and a half feet tall (.9 to 1.1 m). My plant at home also started to flower and set berries at about three feet tall; at that point I'd had it approximately two years.