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For the HomeFor the GardenFood & EntertainingResourcesArticle Archive
For The Garden

Pod Power

Author: Lori A. Johnson
Issue: February, 2018, Page 120
Stan Shebs
(Prosopis pubescens)

Type: Tree

Blooms: Yellow; spring

Size: 10-30'H by 10-20'W

Soil: Well-drained

Elevation: Low

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Prune regularly to maintain a small tree shape, especially if a walk-under canopy is desired; otherwise, allow to grow freely as a large shrub.

Attracts: Butterflies, birds, small mammals

Note: This tree produces fuzzy yellow flower spikes throughout spring, followed by clusters of ornamental screw-shaped pods.

Why we like it: The screwbean mesquite’s nutritious seed pods have been a food source for Native Americans for centuries. They were ground into flour and made into meal, cakes and syrup. Today, the rich, sweet flavor is ideal for blending into smoothies.

T.K. Naliaka
(Proboscidea parviflora)

Type: Annual herb

Blooms: White or pink; summer

Size: 12-24"H by 36-48"W

Soil: Well-drained

Elevation: Low

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: Easy to care  for and drought-tolerant   

Attracts: Bees

Note: This annual herb produces flower stalks of showy bell-shaped flowers. Edible fruits contain oil- and protein-rich seeds. The long and curving tails of the seed pods eventually split into hooked, clawlike halves.

Why we like it: A variety of devil’s claw were first cultivated by Tohono O’odham basket makers of southern Arizona in order to protect their crops from grazing livestock. Today, use of the herb’s seed pods in basketry has spread to dozens of tribes well beyond the plant’s native range.

Alexey Sergeev
(Mascagnia macroptera)

Type: Vine

Blooms: Yellow; spring/summer

Size: 15-20'H by 15-20'W

Soil: Well-drained

Elevation: Low

Light: Full to partial sun

Water needs: Low

Maintenance: This low-maintenance vine performs best with regular supplemental water during the summer.

Attracts: Bees, butterflies

Note: Butterfly vine requires a trellis, arbor or fence for support; leave unsupported to form a mounding ground cover. The plant’s large winglike pods resemble green butterflies. An alternate name is yellow orchid vine after the shape of its tiny flowers.

Why we like it: This fast grower often repeats blooms throughout summer and into fall; the showy chartreuse seed pods add to the vine’s eye-catching display.

(Nigella damascena)

Type: Annual

Blooms: Blue; summer

Size: 18-24"H by 12-18"W

Soil: Well-drained

Elevation: Any

Light: Full sun

Water needs: Moderate

Maintenance: Avoid transplanting; sow from seed for best results. Deadheading spent flowers extends the bloom period but also inhibits development of the ornamental seed pods.

Attracts: Bees

Note: Native to the Mediterranean region, these flowers are relatively short-lived but can be planted successively to achieve continuous blooms.

Why we like it: While the mildly spicy seeds are edible, the plant is prized for its showy blooms suitable for flower beds and containers. The bristly green seed capsules with purplish stripes make attractive additions to dried flower arrangements.   

Other Favorites: Sacred datura (Datura wrightii), velvet mesquite (Prosopis velutina), bottle tree (Brachychiton populneus), Texas mountain laurel (Sophora secundiflora), jacaranda (Jacaranda mimosifolia), milkweed (Asclepias spp.)
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