Plant IDs from central Florida

milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)December 9, 2013

Just got back from visiting relatives and while I was there I collected seeds. I'd like to know what I brought home with me.

The seeds at 1:00 are purple. The two at 6 and 7 were from palms. I believe the small red at 9:00 are from a pepper tree. The pod at 11 looks like lady bugs all lined up.

Thank you for your help. I sure wish I could have brought back some warmth with me:)

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Just so you know, without a heated greenhouse, you're not going have much success with these seeds.

The two large ones on the right appear to be palm seeds. I would bet the ones at the bottom of the plate are from Queen Palms. The pepper seeds are probably from Brazilian Pepper Tree, a horrible invasive here in Florida.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 7:13PM
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Yikes! The top one, the one you say looks like ladybugs, looks like rosary pea, a terribly poisonous plant and dangerous because the color is attractive to children and one bean is enough to kill you. You need to tell them to do whatever they must to get rid of it.

I agree with fawnridge that 9 o'clock looks like brazilian pepper/florida holly.

Here is a link that might be useful: Ifas on rosary pea

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 10:50PM
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When handling the rosary pea seeds you brought back, make very sure not to crush or break or otherwise penetrate them. The abrin (possibly the most toxic vegetable poison known) is inside the seed casing.

EDIT From native plant expert Green Dean:

In fact Abrin is so toxic that contact between an open or crushed seed and an open wound, like a cut, is also fatal, as is rubbing your eyes after you have touched a broken or powdered seed.

Here is a link that might be useful: Dean on rosary pea

This post was edited by writersblock on Tue, Dec 10, 13 at 0:19

    Bookmark   December 9, 2013 at 11:01PM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Wow, did I open a can of worms! Fortunately, or unfortunately, the Rosary Pea plants were up a lane from their house and so I cannot contact the owners. I am so glad I asked you guys what I found!!! They are truly a very enticing seed pod.

I don't know that I will try to sprout anything, I just like to be able to identify plants and nothing in Florida is familiar to me. We went to Highlands Hammock State Park and that was sure worth the tiny fee for the tour. A mere $5.00 per person and a guided tour on a tram that lasted more than an hour. I saw more wildlife and plants than I could have ever dreamed.

Thank you all for your deep concern. At least I know one plant to stay away from next time I visit!

It's 9F here in Denver as I write. I sure miss the warmth of Florida.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 1:04AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Well., it is nice to have the warmth but it's really tough to
have a downhill run on fresh powder lol And who can forget those glorious springs and cool summers??
maybe we could work out some kind of trade?? lol gary

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 4:09AM
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stuartwanda(N. Stuart)

I love Highland Hammock. I use to go camping there. The Rosary Pea we use to blow them out of a straw. Yes, we knew they were poisonous! What great fun for us kids back when.

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 6:23AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)


When I saw the first Rosary Pea pod I dismissed it, thinking some kids must have gone crazy with a paint ball gun. When I looked further I realized it was a seed pod, and my how beautiful it was too!

The seasons are nice here. The years don't seem to drag on interminably. I can grow things that need lots of chill hours and there is less pressure from pests and diseases. The dry climate and high altitude of Denver makes irrigated fruits and vegetables very tasty if they have time to ripen.

So, I think I will go ahead and buy a nice big house with land in Florida and come back to Denver for the summer:) That would be the best of both worlds....if only!

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 10:00AM
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>When I looked further I realized it was a seed pod, and my how beautiful it was too!

Yeah, when I was a kid many centuries ago in Miami, the tourist shops still sold willow baskets actually made by the Seminoles and jewelry made from rosary pea. It's great for that since the seeds are very regular in shape and size, but I can remember a couple of poisonings of toddlers who teethed on mommy's necklace. After that there was a major education/eradication initiative.

It's still used for jewelry today. Etsy has promoted it, in fact.

Here is a link that might be useful: Etsy shop of the week with lucky rosary peas

    Bookmark   December 10, 2013 at 11:36AM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

I have a lot of memories of summers spent in the San Juan mountains but only during summer but particularly
remember the alpine meadows in spring!!
probably better in memory than reality?? lol
Forida has always been based on "Snow birds" with winter/summer homes .Would seem like the ideal life style??
Couldn't imagine living here without AC lol

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:08AM
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I grew up in florida without AC - at that time it was somewhat unusual to not have it. When my folks were kids of course nobody had it. My grandfather lived almost his whole life without it, until a few years ago.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:21AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

The purple ones could be Callicarpa berries. Google images should help you recognize the plant, at least the pattern of berries on the stems. If there had been a freeze, the leaves may have been gone already.

I don't know about the climate of CO, but Callicarpa americana is hardy in Z5, native, 'beautyberry.'

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 10:40AM
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milehighgirl(CO USDA 5B/Sunset 2B)

Just to update y'all (love that word!) My MIL said she would speak with her neighbors. I told her which houses had the rosary peas and she was more than happy to let them know. It's probably in every backyard around there.

I didn't get a reply from Etsy, even though I requested a read receipt.

The Callicarpa berries are not something I've ever seen here but I will look out for them now.

I decided to throw the whole baggie with seeds away. Maybe too cautious, I don't know, but oh well.

I'll tell you I had the most enjoyable weekend there. My body just felt better and I slept like a baby. Now I'm back to aches and pains and soreness everywhere and restless sleep. I might be on my way to becoming a snow bird too.

    Bookmark   December 12, 2013 at 5:16PM
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The rosary-pea is all over at my central florida place. When I first saw it some years ago I could see that it was a legume and was toying with the idea of cooking and eating it but fortunately I asked on this forum first and was tipped off about its toxicity.

I did some reading back then and learned that it is native to parts of southeast asia and was occasionally used as a famine-food, apparently if cooked properly and not eaten too much it can be digested (obviously I don't know whether this is valid or not). Raw it has been know to kill people, apparently. However the seeds are so hard that I think a person would nearly break their teeth trying to crack the seeds, the whole seed apparently will pass through undigested.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 8:04AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL(8B AL)

Here's some Callicarpa with Ipomoea vines, spotted in a wild area along a dirt road. The clumps of berries along the stems are fairly distinctive though the shrub is completely nondescript when there are no berries. You may not get a shrub from the seeds you gathered (especially if they're gone now,) but since the subject has come up, you may now know you'd like to have one if these are suitable in your climate. The berries may persist after most plants have gone dormant, for winter interest (and, of course, sustenance for birds.) And I think they are the only berries that color, so pretty.

About sleeping well, probably all of the oxygen! So much less a mile high.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 9:21AM
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pnbrown, if you read the link from Green Deane in my previous post, he is the king of the foragers and discusses this at length there, concluding that despite what is said he'd want "to be washed out from stem to stern and the seed accounted for" if he accidentally ingested one. It's worth noting that the actual hardness of the shell case varies.

There are more accidental poisonings in the fall when the berries first appear, because the case is softest then, and then from older seeds used in crafty things because the shells become quite brittle on older seeds.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 10:41AM
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Thanks, that is an interesting article. The necklaces are a really bad idea, clearly.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 12:50PM
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whgille(FL 9b)

Writersblock, you are a wealth of information, very interesting article!
I agree with you Pat, the necklace is a very bad idea, I would not put it around my neck,lol.


    Bookmark   December 13, 2013 at 6:22PM
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