Pumpkin on a Stick

101_0329 When I saw this strange looking little vegetable, gourd, decoration—I stopped in my tracks.

I grabbed a stick of it and pointed it wild-eyed in the direction of the vendor: “What is this?”

“Pumpkin on a Stick,” he replied.

Now, I wasn’t born yesterday so I know for a FACT that pumpkins do not grow on sticks. 

“Surely, it’s a tomato?”

Replies the vendor: “It’s a pumpkin that grows on a stick.”

“It’s in the tomato family, right?”

Replies the vendor: “It’s a pumpkin.  We grow it from seed.”

I paid the man for his “pumpkin on a stick” and scrutinized the stem all the way home.  I convinced James (who needed no convincing) that this plant was at the very least in the nightshade family.  Whether it was edible or not was another question entirely.  The instant we returned home, I placed the stick in water and asked Grandma Google what in the world my “pumpkin on a stick” could possibly be.  Grandma says that my pumpkin is indeed an eggplant (solanum integrifolium or perhaps S. aethiopicum)

The eggplant is also called hmong eggplant, scarlet eggplant, ornamental eggplant, mock tomato, ad infinitum.  This eggplant appears to be edible and is served in Southeast Asian stir-fry dishes.  It is reputed to have a bitter flavor (which is usually not a good sign).  However, many eggplants will have a bitter taste (this is why you sprinkle eggplant with salt before cooking and then rinse).  The plant grows to be about 4 feet tall and 2-3 feet wide.  I’m guessing my plant will be larger due to my warm gulf coast zone.

My goal is to root this stick AND collect the seeds to see what I possibly have here. 

 

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20 comments

  1. Do you think you’ll pot the seeds indoors or plant them outside? I’m completely unfamiliar with growing eggplant. I’m all envious of this whimsical find. I wonder if I can find pumpkins-on-a-stick in my neighborhood?

    1. I’ll be gathering the seeds. This plant, I’ll grow in my greenhouse over the winter and then plant the seeds in the spring. Eggplant is a VERY hot weather crop. From what I hear, each plant can produce DOZENS of eggplant.

    1. Exactly! Reminds me of the heirloom tomatoes that are so deeply ribbed. From what I read, the orange color is the last stage as the fruits dry. I imagine when they’re green they look just like tomatoes!

  2. you won’t believe where the girls and i saw this super cool stick yesterday!! in the floral section at WALMART!! you will believe though that laurel specifically said you would love it!! what a nice little treat to see it here today! =)

  3. That pumpkin on a stick was probably from my flower field and sold to you by my son in law. My daughter who was with him knew it was specifically bred from the eggplant for floral cuts. I don’t expect you will be successful in rooting the “stick”, but when the mature pumpkins start wrinkling up (probably after thanksgiving) just open up the fruit and dry the seed for a couple of weeks in a tray in your home, then ziplock and refrig till spring till you plant – I plant some in April-May and June with great germ. Yep, they are heat and sun lovers, and need support for their long canes. When you cut them they have thorns on the cane and under the leaves (which look like eggplant leaves.). They often reseed in the field from unpicked overripe “pumpkins”.

  4. So funny…I’ve been obsessed with finding these somewhere ever since seeing them at the Montreal Botanical Garden last fall…and just found seed for them this weekend! What a small world!

    1. Hi there! I would really recommend getting your seeds from, say, http://www.rareseeds.com I’m really not sure what the variety is on these little buddies. I think some may be strictly ornamental and since they’re supposed to taste bitter anyway, you’d never know for sure if it was poisonous or not! :0

  5. My neighbors were at Park Seed company and saw one of these planted by the doorway. They were able to collect a few dried pods and its seeds. I will have to see if they end up planting the seeds this spring. What a fun plant.

  6. Thanks for the comments. This is a pretty neat little plant. It’s supposed to get huge (I imagine it will in our HOT Gulf Coast climate). I look forward to this garden oddity this year!

  7. We just love these for the autumn season they totally make an excellent table piece. Almost a gothic look to then with their black stems and thorns and then the explosion of crazy glossy color! Wow and everyone questions wtf are these lol :)

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