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Oh Pumpkin Tree, Oh Pumpkin Tree…

Posted Oct 25 2009 12:00am

Oh pumpkin tree, oh pumpkin tree… errr…. What??? Holiday trees aren’t just for Christmas anymore people. Meet the Pumpkin Tree - a fabulously festive way to pay homage to the fall season.

I was walking home from work the other day when I saw these beauties set up outside of the Brookline flower store, Kabloom. These were the first I had seen this season, so I knew I had to buy them and get the low-down on Pumpkin Trees! The florist had a few Pumpkin Tree information snacks for me:

Florists know this plant as the Pumpkin Tree, but botanists know it as the Ornamental Eggplant, or Solanum Integrifolium. This odd eggplant is native to Southeast Asia, where they actually use it in stir-fry recipes. I was told they are very bitter, but I haven’t braved the tasting yet. Maybe in my next stir-fry dish…

I thought maybe I could weasel a few seeds out of this one and start my own plant, but it is an annual so if you would like to grow one, plant your seeds in early spring, and by next fall you will be the conversation piece of the neighborhood! Keep everyone guessing on what your odd little plant is and then impress them with you botanical savvy. The plant grows about three to five feet tall, and the fruit starts off as green, eventually turning to a reddish orange when it is ripe for the picking.

The Pumpkin Tree goes by a jillion different names too:

  • Pumpkin tree
  • Pumpkin bush
  • Ornamental eggplant
  • Mock tomato
  • Turkish Orange
  • Pumpkin on a stick
  • Solanum Integrifolium
  • Hmong Eggplant
  • Japanese Golden Eyes
  • Chinese Scarlet Eggplant


What do I do with it?

If you are a brave little foodie, you could cut up a few and toss them in your stir-fry, or you could take the more Martha Stewart route and dry them as a centerpiece for your next fall get-together. I made the mistake of putting mine in water when I got home – bad idea. They don’t last as long in water, and they eventually start to mold.

So to recap on its uses:

  • Dry it, and use it in floral decorations.
  • Whip up a few in your next stir-fry dish.
  • Use as a conversation piece in your garden.


Now I’m off to buy a couple of real pumpkins to add to the fall decorations for our Halloween party on Saturday. Best part? I get to bake the seeds! I saw a really funny idea for our carvings while I was in Salem this weekend for the Halloween festivities, so stay tuned for carving pics and a pumpkin seed recipe!

Happy Snacking,


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