Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Balsam Apple


Balsam Apple
Originally uploaded by linfrye
Daily Journal

While we were visiting the gardens of Old Salem, NC, this unusual vine covered one of the fences. It was labeled "Balsam Apple" - a plant I never heard of before. There were some opened fruits - the flesh as bright an orange as this, and the inside covered with incredibly bright, scarlet/red seeds. It looked edible - but we thought we should check resources before tasting.

Good thing we did!

Balsam Apple (Momordica balsamina) is a plant original to Africa, and brought to the US by Jefferson, and is considered an 'old southern' plant. According to Wikipedia, "In the Philippines it is called "ampalaya" by the Tagalogs. It is a popular vegetable in the island of Luzon where it is mixed with other vegetables to make a stew. It is also sauteed with either shrimp, meat, pork, chicken and served with thick gravy.
While the leaves are safe to eat, the seeds can be toxic if too many are injested. Although they do sell Balsam supplements, like all things moderation is key."

Yet other sources I checked said the fruit was highly toxic ... a weed in Florida, used as a liniment by adding the pulped fruit (without the seeds) to almond oil for chapped hands, the fluid extract used to help with dropsy. According to Perdue University, the fruit is boiled when immature and eaten like a vegetable.

So there you go - its edibility can all depend on which part you eat, when you eat it, how you cook it.....

For me, I'm opting for safety and will delight in its ornamental beauty and fall colors ....

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love the soft colors and especially against the old wood. This is an especially delightful one for fall and your detail is super!
LOL Better safe than sorry. You did a lot of research.
Hugs,
Lorraine

Jona said...

Wonderful washes, a soft painting.

You wrote some interesting information about the plant as well.

Hope you are feeling better. Hugs.

joshua said...

I found this growing on the wall outside the kitchen door at my home in Bermuda. Your description is very good. Thanks you.
Joshua, age 12
Bermuda