Aren’t these big seeds with a little heart really sweet? They’re from a lovely annual climber with an interesting name, Cardiospermum halicacabum (Sometimes called Love in a Puff or Balloon Vine).
I got my original seeds a couple of years ago from some friends who run Rose Cottage Plants. I planted four which did really well and since then I’ve gathered the best seeds to give away, to plant and to save.
The plant climbs to about two metres, gives a light feathery shade and the tiny white flowers produce green seed cages. I grow them in various spots around the garden especially where a dark background can show them off to their best advantage. It’s classed as a noxious weed in some parts of the United States of America but here in France the plant self seeds rarely and is very easy to keep under control.
As well as being pretty, this plant’s useful because it’s leaves are edible and I often nip off a few to add to salads and use them to decorate dishes – in the hope that the more varied our diet is, the better our bodies will be able to look after themselves. Here are some of the medicinal uses of the plant.
The whole plant is diaphoretic, diuretic, emetic, emmenagogue, laxative, refrigerant, rubefacient, stomachic and sudorific. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism, nervous diseases, stiffness of the limbs and snakebite. The leaves are rubefacient, they are applied as a poultice in the treatment of rheumatism. A tea made from them is used in the treatment of itchy skin. Salted leaves are used as a poultice on swellings. The leaf juice has been used as a treatment for earache. The root is diaphoretic, diuretic, emmenagogue, laxative and rubefacient. It is occasionally used in the treatment of rheumatism, lumbago and nervous diseases.
For more information on growing and using this plant see the Plants For A Future database.
Another climbing plant which has a fascinating, cheeky little seed is the Black Eyed Susan (Thunbergia alata). It’s normally grown as an annual in northern climes but it’s a perennial native to tropical Africa where it can grow up to 20 feet.
With regular watering, the plant grows very fast in France. If it’s well supported it can climb up to two metres and one plant can easily cover a square metre, so it’s useful for quick cover. It flowers from June until the first frosts and I’ve used it for an effective screen to hide the water butts in front of our chicken shed.
The Thunbergia is also available in white and the beautiful Blushing Susie – a lovely pinky/orange colour but I’ve found that the yellow is much more vigorous and produces flowers more profusely and for much longer than the white and orange varieties.
There’s a lot more information about this plant in THIS African plant site. Where I got this information :
Medicinally it is used for skin problems, cellulitis, back and joint pains, eye inflammation, piles and rectal cancer. Gall sickness and some ear problems in cattle are also treated with this plant.
NB. Some people can get contact dermatitis from it.
Click HERE if you’d like to see a slideshow of the Black Eyed Susan growing on the screen throughout the year.