What can it be? Jacaranda mimosifolia!
Thomaston — In late spring, Harold Wiggins planted Swiss chard in a pipe-watered container garden on his Booker Street porch, using seeds from a packet that indicated they came from Mexico. As summer began, the chard began to grow … and so did something else.
“It was growing two inches a day for awhile. We sat on the porch at night just watching it grow,” he said Aug. 26.
Wiggins’ wife Phyllis got a couple of names from The Green Thumb — mimosa and jacaranda — but the exotic-looking plant has yet to be identified. Its delicate fronds, which flutter in the breeze, fold flat to the stem at night, the Wigginses said. The plant appears to have stopped growing in height, but still appears to still be forming new growth on the ends of lower branches.
“The stem is kind of like asparagus,” said Harold.
The couple would like to know just what it is growing in their Swiss chard box; anyone who recognizes the plant is asked to contact the newspaper.
Sharon Smalley of Warren called the Courier-Gazette Aug. 31 to say the Wiggins’ mystery plant is a Jacaranda mimosifolia, a sub-tropical tree rated by the USDA for zones 10 and 11. She said she has one herself, which she carefully grew from seeds bought in England, where the trees are common. They also grow in Florida.
“I’m surprised it just grew like his did; I had to start mine on a hot pad, in a greenhouse, and only four of the eight seeds sprouted,” she said.
Smalley’s tree dates back to March 2011 and is 12 feet tall; fortunately, she has a cathedral ceiling that can accommodate it. She said the Thomaston couple will have to bring their tree in quite soon, as nighttime temperatures in the 50s are too low for it.
“That’s why the leaves flatten at the end of the day,” she said, adding that the leaves also flatten when the plant needs water.
Smalley said the plant has beautiful blue flowers when it blooms. She also said the green trunk will begin to get brown bumps that might look like insects but really is a sign the tree is going to grow bark.
Wiggins said that bumps have indeed begun to form. He added he is thrilled to know what his plant is, but “if it’s going to grow that tall, I’ll find someone to give it to.”
Courier Publications' A&E Editor Dagney C. Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.