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Mystery Plant

I have already broken my rule about taking any more photos until I have processed all the photos I have from Sweden and Malaysia. I just couldn't resist. This plant from my neighbor's yard has been growing up our staircase and changing every day. I broke my rule in order to capture these current stage which may not be available until next summer.

Unlike my previous two plant posts, I have nothing to say about this one besides telling you that it smells (when you break a piece off) and tastes dang good. Until a few days ago, I had no idea what it was, but then we noticed a clearly recognizable fruit? vegetable? (I wont know for sure until my next self-study text-book arrives). It is obvious what it is now... as far as the generic name used at the grocery store, but I have no plant identifier book, and have not been able to find the scientific name online. So, to tell you the truth, I don't really know what this plant is, nor anything about it other than how it tastes in a certain type of cooking popular here in Japan.

So, I offer a prize to anyone who can tell me what this is. There are more photos of it here, but I have hidden the pictures that make it too obvious.

* * *

This brings up a different issue. I am looking for a good plant identification book, preferably in English, but a really great one in Japanese about plants found in Japan would be OK too. I want illustrations, not photos. The books with photos are all too hard to see. The illustrations can show the plant, the seed, cross sections, close-ups of the leaves, etc... That's what I want. When I was in Sweden I was using a great book but I didn't even know how great it was until I started looking for books in English or Japanese.

I have seen the Makino Illustrated Plant Book, which appears to be the best in Japan, but even that leaves me empty. In some cases, when I look up a certain plant which I know has a number of varieties, it only has an illustration of one of them. What about the others that are slight variants? Obviously I don't know enough to really use that in-depth info now, but I don't want to spend money on a book that I will grow out of.

* * *

In other news, Tomoe is off climbing Fuji with her co-workers so I am home alone. Ooooo to think of all the mischief I can get into. Too bad I am boring. Instead of having a big party, I sit home taking pictures of plants, listening to NPR, and studying Japanese.

Why am I such a Looser?

Comments about Mystery Plant

Has anyone guessed Pumpkin? (or other squash?)

Posted by: billy at August 29, 2005 06:28 AM

It's in the same family (cucurbita) family. This one is especially delicious, some kind of nigauri / tsurureishi, or goya as it's known in Okinawa where it is used a lot.

My quick search last night couldn't find anything about specific variations of nigauri though, so I was hoping someone would know a little more. After writing that though I couldn't resist wasting more time searching, and I finally found it - MOMORDICA CHARANTIA L. - BITTER MELON.

What do you want for a prize?

Posted by: kevin at August 29, 2005 10:36 AM


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