Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire

Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)November 22, 2012

Hothouse Flower and the Nine Plants of Desire by Margot Berwin. Has anyone else read it? It's a ro-mystery about plants! Not sickening like a Harlequin or other similar drivel, and men who like plants would also enjoy reading it.

Even as "planty" as I am, I'm blown away by how much it's possible to discuss plants in the way it's done in this story, which starts in NYC and then heads to Mexico. Almost finished with it, what a wild book. There are MANY other plants discussed/mentioned but the "9 plants of desire" are:

(I've borrowed the pics, hopefully correct ones, from - wherever would let me.)

Gloxinia speciosa - the mythical plant of love at 1st sight.

Zamia furfuracea (Mexican Cycad) - the plant of immortality. A living dinosaur.

Cacao theobroma (chocolate) - Chocolate tree of food and fortune.

Ipomoea alba (moonflower vine) - Bringer of fertility and procreation.

Cannabis sativa (marijuana) - the plant of female sexuality.

Convallaria majalis (lily of the valley) - Delivers life force. In a pinch, this plant can replace Digitalis as a medication for an ailing heart.

Atropa mandragora (Mandrake) - According to both Shakespeare an the Holy Bible, this is the plant of magic.

Cichorium intybus (chicory) - The plant of freedom. Offering invisibility to those who dare to ingest its' bitter, milky juice.

Datura inoxia - the plant of mind travel and high adventure. Bringer of visions and dreams of the future.

"There is a 10th plant too. The passion plant with no name. To find out about that one, you have to read the book..." (it's a Bromeliad, I know that much.)

Many of the chapters have plant names:

Strelitzia reginae (bird of paradise)

Oxalis hedysaroides rubra (fire fern)

Trachycarpus fortunei (Chinese windmill palm)

Washingtonia robusta (Mexican fan palm)

epiphytic plants

Feel free to comment on the book, or the plants, or whatever... (Wow, I added a lot of words to computer's dictionary with THIS post.)

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Strange.. I'm only familiar with ONE of Them! :-)


    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 12:45PM
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I'm familiar with several, but the descriptions also sound very Don Juanish (Carlos Castaneda) - frankly, I won't read that anymore but your book sounds more exciting.

Nice, bud.

    Bookmark   November 22, 2012 at 12:53PM
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I'm familiar with several of those plants, and the book sounds very interesting.

I happen to have a Chalice Vine, and in looking around for information on pruning and possibly rooting the pieces so as not to waste any of it, I ran into a website on ancient medicinal and spiritual/ritual information that was passed from generation to generation, and is now being lost to modern culture/society. Apparently, the Chalice Vine, a relative of Datura or Brugs, also contains toxins used as psychoactive agents in rituals and medicinal uses. I found it quite interesting.

I didn't even know it was related to Datura or Brugs. But I did find that I can prune it, and the pieces should root easily enough so I can multiply the plant, and give the original piece a more pleasing form!

Quite honestly, I don't know what the big deal is about marijuana... it's only illegal because of people like W.R. Hearst and the paper industry, and kept that way out of greed and ignorance. "Reefer Madness" was not a documentary... it was pure government sanctioned propaganda.

The USA wastes billions of dollars every year to demonize a harmless, medicinal plant that also serves, in its other varieties, as an extremely strong material capable of being manufactured into many quality items that have longevity among their strengths... such as denim, clothing, beauty products, a biodegradable plastic product, and the list goes on and on.

It's clearly not a narcotic, but it clearly makes a privatized set of industries tons of money.

If only people knew the truth about the "war on drugs"...

    Bookmark   November 23, 2012 at 10:23PM
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Sounds like it might be an interesting read. I started growing brugs about 20 years ago after reading about them in some sort of mystery novel. The story made them sound so intriguing. I wish I could remember what the book was.

Jodik I couldn't agree more. I haven't smoked dope in 20 years but know plenty of people that do and most are white collar professionals. The medicinal and industrial benefits can't be disputed and I really don't see anything wrong with it recreationally. I think it's safer then alcohol.

The Solandra maxima (Chalice vine) is very easy to root. I don't do anything special. I just stick the cuttings in lightly moistened soil and keep them warm. I don't think I've ever had a cutting not root. Just take your cuttings in the spring or early summer as to not forfit blooms later on.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 7:48AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Well I'm finished with this book, a cute little story, a few minutes before falling asleep each night for about a week.

I used to be surrounded by Chicory in OH, but don't see it around down here. Never could understand the hype about LOV, which blooms when it's nasty outside and you have to get on your knees to smell it.

Datura sounds like a wild buzz. For some reason these plants don't like me, but I keep trying to grow a couple different kinds.

Cactusmcharris, I'm not familiar with Don Juan but doubt this book is similar to that. And that IS a nice looking bud!

This book added fuel to the fire of my desire to visit a jungle before I die, although I would probably hate it after about 10 minutes... would the wow factor of the plants overcome the discomfort? Sure it's unbearably hot and humid here, but that probably doesn't compare, even when the wind won't blow.

Before reading, never heard of Mandrake plant. What do y'all know about that one?

Oxalis hedysaroides plays a prominent role in the book as a supposedly very rare and valuable plant. From googling, it looks like any other purple/red leaf Oxalis. Is this really a special plant or just part of the fiction? The main character is given a cutting, is that possible with Oxalis? I always thought you needed a bulb...

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 9:23AM
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I won't lie... I inhaled. ;-)

But seriously... I haven't partaken since my own youth, but I see the value medically, and I see that recreational use isn't the big bad wolf it's made out to be.

The true "gateway" substances are alcohol and tobacco, both of which are, surprisingly, legal! The death counts from each are HUGE annually, and I couldn't even guess what the number looks like adding both together! Talk about backasswards and industry greed!

I happen to know many college educated professionals that would rather partake of the chronic instead of imbibing alcohol. The stereotypes and propaganda surrounding marijuana are ludicrous.

I'm definitely for decriminalizing, and actually for legalizing marijuana... and not just for medicinal use.

I'm a chronic pain patient, myself, having both Lupus and permanent injuries sustained in an auto accident, and pot would be a lot cheaper... if it worked for my pain. It doesn't. But I know a few persons who do use it for pain, and one for a disease the name of which I can't think of right now, and one person who uses it for ADD instead of ingesting Ritalin, which comes with a lot of side effects.

So many of our nation's systems are so broken, it makes me so angry. And for what? For the love of money.

Thanks for the info on my Chalice Vine... I got the original cutting as a gift, and I kind of let the thing get out of hand growing in a nice east window. Now it needs a haircut, and a re-potting... I'll wait until spring. :-)

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 1:47PM
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greenlarry(UK 8/9)

I like the sound of that book, and great plants!

    Bookmark   November 24, 2012 at 5:02PM
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Jodik the Chalice vine is not something that can be kept on a windowsill, unless you have a huge window. I cut the branches back to about 4' in the spring and they're back to at least 6' by the time I move it in the fall. Maybe it could be trained to bloom at a small size, not sure, but the blooms are about 7" long.

    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 10:21AM
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A genuine plant, Plant Book...

Is the genre ro-mystery or fantasy. I'd bet after consuming plants listed, life would be fantasy. :)

Purple, don't know if it's my computer, but two pics didn't display. Moonflower and Chicory. at 1st site..Do you know how many people would run out an buy a Glox? lol. No need for online dating or bars.

Is that a seed pod or flower on the Chocolate plant? If it's a pod, there must be hundreds of seeds per pod.
How much does a Hershey bar cost these days?

I thought pot produced white flowers? Or would that be the male?

Lily of the Valley grows on either sides of our house. A pinch for sure. Too much and one will no longer worry about an ailing heart or any other problems.

Mandrake. Thought I bought a teeny-weeny Mandrake.
Does anyone know if Mandrake goes dormant, 'completely dormant' three seasons per year.
I think someone posted pics of their own Mandrake on C&S last year??

Datura. If eaten, Datura would be a 'high' adventure, for sure. And dangerous. A few years ago, teens found by eating leaves, etc, it'd be similar to dropping acid. Some died, others were hospitalized. One boy will never walk again.
Anyone want Dature seeds, ask next year.
Purple, Datura is very, very invasive..unless you want one plant turning into hundreds, don't bother.

Jodik and Karyn. I agree, Chalice vine isn't a plant that can be kept on a window sill. Although flowers are pretty, 'large/yellow,' CV eventually grows tree-like.
After several years I no longer have CV...took too much room.

Jodik..Unlike Clinton, at least you admit inhaling. lol.

Is the disease you're thinking about, Glaucoma?
An ex-relative smoked pot for Glaucoma...

Boiling and smoking/drinking Coleus seeds have the same affect as Datura, and a few other plants on the list.

I always thought since the gov couldn't tax pot, it remained illegal??? Just a thought.


    Bookmark   November 25, 2012 at 12:00PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

"Is the genre ro-mystery or fantasy." Ha! It's mostly a mystery about plants. There is a romance, but not the icky kind that would make me ill, it also revolves around the plants.

"I'd bet after consuming plants listed, life would be fantasy. :) No doubt, although if I understood it, if you consumed some of them, you would die. The book isn't totally helpful in that regard, what to do with them because that's not the point of how they are used in the story.

"Purple, don't know if it's my computer, but two pics didn't display. Moonflower and Chicory." It's not your computer. Either the pic I was hot-linking got moved/deleted, or someone noticed it and put some kind of block to prevent the linking. Glad it was those 2 pics, easy to google.

Doesn't D. inoxia smell good - the flowers? I'm sure it would be easy to deadhead the pods. If that's not the one with fragrant flowers, I think it's the same one that is at DH's Mom's house. White flowers open at night but no scent. I've grabbed seeds twice but can't get them to sprout.

The Datura plants I have are not the same as that Datura. It's this big, shrub kind with the dangling peach flowers. An explosion of these seedlings would be welcome!!

(pic not mine.)

Does anybody know of any other books where the main characters are complete plant junkies?

    Bookmark   November 29, 2012 at 5:01PM
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That's a brugmansia. Up until fairly recently the two names, brugmansia and datura, were used interchangeably, but they are very different plants. Datura (Devil's Trumpet) blooms face upwards and brugmansia (Angel's Trumpet) blooms are pendulous. Both contain alkaloids that can cause an altered state of consciousness, or worse if ingested.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 8:20AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Yes, they are very different. I just wish the tag on my plants said something besides "Datura - peach." If it ever blooms, I would like to find the species name.

Have also been looking for D. metel for years. They are never in the stores, plants or seeds. Those beautiful purple trumpet blooms remain elusive!!

"an altered state of consciousness" Yeah, that's what ya read out there, but never any specific recipes or instructions.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 9:56AM
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Purpleinopp that pic looks like it might be a Brugmansia verisicolor. What variety it's impossible to tell as there are so many that look alike. They are extremely heavy feeders and water hogs during the growing season. I cut mine back to about 10" before storing them dormant and many are over 8' by late summer. I just sent you a GW email about D. metel seeds.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 2:45PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Karyn, Thanks!! I know that last pic I posted of Datura is probably not the same as the plants I bought, but it should be generally the same, with the dangling peach blooms and large medium oval leaves. If the cultivars are not mostly the same species, the generic tag makes sense. Begonias are like that.

As I've been trying to learn more about these plants that refuse yet to look like the stunners I see around the area, I'm pretty sure the newly-reclaimed-from-grass-spot where one is, and the pots the other two are in, are not ideal for healthy plants, let alone flowers. The ground plant is just slow and small, and the potted plants are downright PO'd. Very thirsty yet extremely resentful of soggy. Ha!

Hopefully next year the results of all of the OM we've been piling on these beds will start to pay off. Already this summer I noticed a difference in water retention, but I'm sure fertility is still extremely thin. I did fertilize new shrubs a few times before rains. I should be glad that one Datura in the ground came back at all this year. It wants a chance to be the belle of the fall yard! Surely I'm not the only person to whine about lack of instant gratification from baby shrubs.

    Bookmark   November 30, 2012 at 3:24PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Daturas are finally blooming, really extended BTW. This is one of the poor things that was in a pot last winter. Obviously much happier now! But, I'm not sure I like the 'fragrance,' only active at night...

Did anyone else ever read this book?

    Bookmark   October 31, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Another good book about plants and plant people is "Beautiful Madness" by James Dodson. Not a novel, but a book about a guy feeding his plant obsessions and leading to major flower shows and even to South Africa where they explore for the next best house plant of the future. Very enjoyable book!

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 10:11AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

The only thing I know FOR SURE about Mandrake is that it screams when you pull it out of the ground. :-)

    Bookmark   November 2, 2013 at 5:56PM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Hmm, it said that in the book. What does that mean? I don't recognize that plant by botanical name or pic.

    Bookmark   November 5, 2013 at 9:28AM
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