Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Kangaroo Apple - "It is in dying that I live"

Did this Kangaroo Apple read the famous "Prayer of St Francis"?
Or indeed was St Francis inspired by seeing a plant giving its life as completely as this plant?
  • "it is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life."
I photographed the plant by flash, at night to accentuate its bareness
and the masses of brightly coloured berries.

This next image is of a normally fruitful Kangaroo Apple (Solanum aviculare) - with leaves and berries.
The top plant is not totally unusual, but it is an extreme example of a phenomenon which I have observed before - which is that some Kangaroo Apples lose all their leaves, while fruiting to an extraordinary extent, prior to the entire bush dying.

Kangaroo Apples are relatively short lived plants (5 or 6 years generally). They normally fruit heavily, but sometimes, when they fruit excessively, they do as this top plant has done - it has shed all its leaves and is bearing vast numbers of berries.
After such excessive fruiting the entire plant dies.
But of course, genetically, the plant lives on - through its progeny.
Hence the metaphysical and meditation interpretations coincide.

It was this which put me in mind of my late Father's favourite Prayer - the so-called "Prayer of St Francis", which apparently can only be traced to a publication in French in 1912, but, hey, lets not get bogged down in historical details....

It was a Prayer which inspired my father, who, now that I think about it, was born in .... you guessed it 1912.


Miss Eagle said...

Great, Denis. Can't recall ever meeting this plant. Does it only occur in southern Australia? Is the fruit edible?

Blessings and bliss

mick said...

An interesting post and a nice piece of philosophy with which to start my day. Thanks!

Mosura said...

I have Kanaroo Apples in the back yard. Twice now they have died back completely only followed by seedling in the same spot. The fruits often have a caterpillar in them which I have not yet identified.

Seen any Yellow-spotted bell frogs lately? See link below:

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Brigid
You had a friend who inquired about these fruits last year.
They are not uncommon, and many species spread around. There were harsh sp[iny grey plants at Broken Hill which the Miners ate for the narcotic effect, which deadened the pain of their "Miners Lung".
Russians use this plant for Steroids and birth control pills.
Solanum (Tomatoes and Potatoes) are very strong chemical factories, and many are highly toxic. Nobody recommends eating these ones. Very pretty though.
One would need to ask an Aboriginal person re traditional food uses.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mick
I am g;ad you appreciated my little bit of philosophising.

Denis Wilson said...

Hi Mosura
Thanks for the Frog link, I have sent it to a friend near Goulburn, which is in the Southern Tablelands. Our area is known as the Southern Highlands. Next region north from them.
I had heard the story, but had not picked up on the locality before.
Kangaroo Apples tend to grow fast, then die out. Bowerbirds go crazy for the berries, here. They can eat them whole. Lewin's Honeyeater, has to peck at the fruit.
Amazing productivity. One plant can easily carry 3000 berries, each with a mass of tiny seeds inside (like a Tomato, in that regard).
Brigid asked about "edibility" and I forgot to mention that in my response to her. Hopefully she will see this too.