Doubtful tladianta (Thladiantha dubia), or red cucumber - for Russian gardeners, the plant is almost unknown, it can only be found among amateur gardeners as an exotic ornamental plant for vertical gardening, although its fruits are a very unusual delicacy.
This amazing plant is native to the southern regions of the Far East and northeastern regions of China. Tladianta is a perennial decorative liana from the pumpkin family, so to speak, the Asian cousin of the zucchini and cucumber so familiar to us.
In the natural habitats of the tladiantus dubious is found in coastal meadows, among shrubs, on loose sandy deposits of the sea coasts, and also as a common weed in gardens and vegetable gardens.
Its shoots with fluffy hairs reach a length of 5 meters, with support, it easily rises up due to its antennae and grows rapidly. The light green leaves of tladiants are shaped like hearts, resemble felt in softness, and have a small fluff on the outside.
The flowering period is very long, throughout the summer and even until early autumn. This culture is dioecious. Male plants have bright yellow flowers, similar to tulips with petals bent back. Flower diameter 2-3 cm, collected in inflorescences in the form of brushes. The flowers of female plants look much more modest, flat in shape, not so bright and grow alone.
With intensive pollination, the plant bears abundant fruit. In color, shape and size, tladiant fruits resemble small cucumbers, which, as they ripen, turn from green to red or orange-red with barely noticeable stripes. The inside of the fruit contains a reddish flesh with a lot of hard seeds.
The underground part of the tladiant is a rather large chain of tubers: up to 8 cm long and up to 2 cm in diameter. This Asian woman is unusually fertile, so that in 2-3 years she does not become the sovereign mistress of the entire site, when planting she must be limited from all sides, for example, with slate sheets dug into the ground to a depth of 0.5 m.
Like all "former" weeds, the dubious tladianta is not capricious. It will thrive on any moderately moist soil that is not severely depleted, but will not tolerate heavy soils. Watering - as needed. It can grow in one place for 10 or more years.
With the establishment of a stable subzero temperature, the aboveground part of the plant dies off, and the tubers easily tolerate even severe frosts. In spring, the vine gives new shoots that grow very quickly; in warm sunny weather, daily growth can reach 10-12 cm.
This liana feels quite comfortable in the garden, in the room, and on the loggia. On a balcony or loggia, it is enough for her to provide a large box with fertile soil, and in the second year of life, up to 10 tubers can form.
Reproduction of tladiants
It is possible to propagate tladiant by seeds, but much easier - tubers, which are planted in early spring or autumn to a depth of 6-8 cm.The distance between tubers is 60-70 cm.
At home, this dioecious plant is pollinated by a local wild bee, however, our bees, wasps and bumblebees do not pollinate this foreigner, so the cultivation of tladianda will require manual pollination. Moreover, not only the male flowers of the plant itself are suitable as a source of pollen, but also pollen from zucchini, cucumber, pumpkin or squash. In this case, a seedless fruit is formed, but with a much better taste than when pollinated with its own pollen.
Doubtful tladianta is a wonderful ornamental plant. Its soft leaves, and very exuberant flowering for our latitudes, and, of course, its unusual fruits look very original.
For decorative purposes, this plant can be used, like any other fast-growing vine: for decorating places that need to be hidden; for landscaping a gazebo or veranda, arches or old trees.The best material for the construction of any "green walls", perhaps, can not be found.
Green fruits - in pickles, red - in jam
The fruits of the tladians are eaten. Green fruits are salted and canned like regular cucumbers or zucchini, although they have a different taste. Ripe red fruits have a sweet taste and can be eaten fresh or made with jam, jam or candied fruit.
This plant is widely used in oriental medicine for the prevention and treatment of various diseases of the gastrointestinal tract, as an expectorant, astringent and antiscorbutic agent. Red cucumber helps to get rid of headaches and hypertension, it is used as a prophylactic agent for influenza epidemics, as well as for sciatica and osteochondrosis.
Photo by Rita Brilliantova and from the GreenInfo.ru forum