Solanum Integrifolium or Solanum aethiopicum L., is better known to dried flower arrangers as Pumpkin On A Stick. Its other names on garden information sites include Pumpkin Tree, Pumpkin Bush, Ornamental Eggplant, Hmong Eggplant (Laos and Vietnam ), Mock Tomato, Japanese Golden Eyes and Chinese Scarlet Eggplant.
Most of those names can't be found on the Internet, nor could I find any information about their being used as bitter ingredients in Vietnamese dishes. I did find a reference to them on an African site where they call them African Eggplant. (The Royal Museum for Central Africa)
Seeds of Change offers this information "This unusual plant is actually an ornamental eggplant. When the fruit turns orange, remove all the leaves and display as a fresh or dried bouquet of flowers. A Curiosity certain to keep your friends and neighbors guessing. Like eggplant, it grows easily from transplants. "
Cheerful information but does not cover anything about the fact that everyone in our little gardener circle who tried to grow them this year also got to learn about Colorado Potato Beetles. The buggers ate the leaves off of all our plants.
I happened to be out there one day and noticed the damage and went to war, hand killing all of them. Now, the plant is growing new leaves and flowers.
The harvesting information is interesting. You just remove all the leaves from the stems and use them as is on their own stems when making fall arrangements.
Bella Online has the best information about how to use the fruit
"Pumpkin-on-a-stick is one of the most spectacular fall florals you can imagine. They’re becoming a very popular cut flower stem for autumn arrangements. They embody the very essence of fall on a single stem. These look just like miniature pumpkins. Both the color and shape of these small fruits are just as exquisite."
So, I want to grow it again next year of course. Now that I know a little more about it, I want to see if I can do a better job with it and grow one of the bush-trees of Pumpkin on a Stick that the seed companies say is possible.
Anyone out there growing this and have tips for drying and using?