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Novelty Seeds

We continue this year to offer unusual tropical plants for you to try under the novelty section. These seeds were extremely popular last year and are plants primarily for interest because of their utility background or unusual behaviour. Perhaps it was a plant you saw on holiday and you want to try to grow at home, or you just fancy growing tea, coffee, cotton and many more?

Acmella oleracea

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Toothache Plant or "Electric Daisies" Aprx 25 seeds

Acmella oleracea is a native to the tropics of Brazil, where it is called Jambu, and is grown as an ornamental and as a medicinal plant in various parts of the world. A small, erect plant, it grows quickly and sends up gold flowers with a red centre. Both fresh and cooked leaves are sometimes used in stews but eating a whole flower bud results in a grassy taste, followed by an extremely strong tingling or numbing sensation. These buds are known as Buzz Buttons or electric buttons and the numbing effect helps toothache. Best grown as a tender annual in the uk. James Wong refers to this as Electric Daisies but it has been known for many years as the Toothache Plant because of the numbing effect in the mouth reducing any toothache pain.

Adansonia digitata

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Baobab or 'Upside Down Tree'   10 seeds
Regarded as the largest succulent plant in the world, the baobab tree is steeped in a wealth of mystique, legend and superstition wherever it occurs in Africa. The main stem of larger baobab trees may reach enormous proportions of up to 90ft in girth. The massive, usually squat, cylindrical trunk gives rise to thick tapering branches resembling a root-system, which is why it has often been referred to as the upside-down tree. There is a tale which tells of how God planted them upside-down. Many traditional Africans believe that the baobab actually grows upside-down. Can be grown as an unusual house plant bonsai but the trick is not to water the plant at all from leaf fall to new growth emergence in spring. In its native land it only gets rain for 3 days a year!

Arachis hypogaea

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Monkey Nut   15 seeds
Monkey nuts (Arachis hypogaea) are neat plants resembling clovers. They can grow to 10 feet high but much smaller in pots with pretty yellow male flowers. The novelty is the female flower that sends out an aerial “peg” that extends all the way down to the soil, buries into the soil and produces up to four peanut seed pods 2” to 6” deep at the tip of each “peg”. Fascinating if you have not grown them before.

Camellia sinensis

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Tea Plant 10 seeds

Always wanted to grow your own tea and coffee? Well here’s your chance, with this plant grown for tea in Sri Lanka and India. Camellia sinensis is a member of the Camellia family with white flowers preferring warm damp conditions but no frost. I have read that the first commercial tea plantation is being considered in Cornwall now taking advantage of Global warming.

Carnegiea gigantea

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"Saguaro Cactus" 20 seeds

A star of many Western films, the iconic saguaro cactus is a spectacular feature of the Sonoran Desert in south western North America. Try just for the novelty if you are a cactus lover but beware they are seriously slow growing!

Coix lacryma-jobi

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Job's Tears. 10 Seeds (Annual) 

Job's Tears is an ornamental, tufted perennial grass (annual in temperate climate) from Southeast Asia. Excellent for pot culture.  The hard seeds are used to make rosaries, or may be lightly toasted and ground for making a tea. The plant grows well outdoors as an ornamental summer annual in the UK or as a perennial in a greenhouse where it gets to about 3 feet high.  It requires full sun and a warm position, with very free-draining compost.

Cyperus papyrus

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Egyptian Paper Reed Pkt
Cyperus papyrus or Egyptian papyrus reed produces the original paper made from the crushed and pulped stems. Easy to grow reaching 6ft to 7ft when mature. In the first year it makes a more manageable 3ft and is easy to grow from seed. Remember that it is a water reed and ideally will need to be left standing with the pot in tray of water. A decorative plant that we often grow as part of our summer bedding in a tropical border.

Delonix Regia

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Flame of the Forest 10 seeds
From popular demand we have added this magnificent tropical tree to our novelty seed list. Delonix Regia a large tree flowers profusely in spring with sprays of scarlet flowers all over the bare branches before the new leaves emerge. It requires really hot dry conditions and is very difficult to keep alive over winter even in a heated greenhouse. The leaves though are attractive, similar to a jacaranda, making an interesting summer pot plant. I have placed this seed in the novelty section as prospects of it reaching flowering size in the UK are pretty remote. The tree bears long 2ft fruiting bean pods that I used to place in a "magic" circle when my daughter was an infant, anyone standing inside immediately became invisible - it was a magic tropical holiday game that she will always remember.

Desmodium gyrans

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Telegraph Plant 10 seeds

Desmodium gyrans is another really unusual plant that actually moves its leaves about under certain conditions. Small lateral leaflets rotate on their axes and jerk up and down within a period of about 3 to 5 minutes early in the morning as the sun warms the plant to around 22°C. Patience may be needed to observe this phenomena but the plant is easy to raise from seed and soon makes a small shrub in a warm greenhouse.As far as we know the only four plants that show any leaf sensitivity movements are, Desmodium gyrans, Mimosa pudica the sensitive plant, Venus Fly Trap, and Averrhoa carambola the star fruit tree.

For a youtube video of this plant in action click here:- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-fIKlcCbSU courtesy of Ian a customer of ours.

Dionaea muscipula

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Venus Fly Trap 15 seeds
Dionaea muscipula has got to be one for the kids, I remember as a child playing with one of these plants for many hours feeding it flies and small spiders, and seeing if I could react quick enough to miss my fingers once the trap had been triggered! Slow growing though from seed but worth the challenge to own one of these unusual novelties.

Ecballium elaterium

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Squirting Cucumber 10 seeds
Another plant for the masochists out there with mischievous young children, looking for suitable revenge! Ecballium elaterium has rough sea-green leaves on wandering stems to 1m or more and yellowish flowers followed by exploding inedible mini ‘cucumbers’ from July to frosts. These fruits explode to the touch when ripe, squirting out a thick gooey mess of seeds. I have read that it is hardy to about -5C!

Ficus benghalensis

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Banyan Tree Aprx 200 tiny seeds

Ficus benghalensis is native to India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Although Banyan can get 100 feet tall with massive limbs supported by prop type roots that spread over an area of several acres, it can also make a beautiful bonsai tree. As it grows, Banyan produces aerial roots that hang down from horizontal branches and take root where they touch the ground. These vertical "prop roots" can create a forest on their own.

Banyan should be positioned in an area where it gets half shade or moderately bright light. Houseplants should be kept at 10°C to 25°C in the Summer and above 10°C in Winter.

Glycyrrhiza glabra

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Liquorice Plant 10 seeds җ җ
This is the European plant that produces liquorice, Elettaria cardamomum is used commercially for sweets, baking, ice cream and drinks, and in some medicines. The Egyptians used this plant for its healing properties and is one of the most widely used in Western Herbal Medicine. The roots are harvested at the 3-4 year stage from seed and boiled to extract the liquorice. Best grown under glass for the first winter planting out the following spring after frosts have finished. The plants (a member of the pea and bean family) require a deep loamy soil with roots that can reach 4ft in length!

Gossypium hirsutum

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Upland or American Cotton Plant 10 seeds
Gossypium hirsutum the cotton plant is easily grown from seed and will flower in the first year with hollyhock like yellow and maroon flowers followed by seed heads that when mature burst open to reveal white bolls of the American or Upland Cotton. Grows to about 3ft.

Gourd Bottle or Birdhouse

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Bottle Gourd 10 seeds

We have often been asked by customers to offer the Bottle Gourd on its own and not just as part of the large Gourd Mix. It has a large round bottom section connected by a narrow neck to a smaller round upper section. Harvest when the smooth, greenish rind turns white or starts to brown. Excellent dried for useful bottles or ornaments etc.

Gourd Bushel

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Mammoth Gourd 5 seeds

Why not try something different and grow this enormous gourd which can attain 4ft round and up to 50kg in weight. Like other gourds it can be dried and hollowed out for decorative purposes or used as a large bowl if cut in half.

Gourd Dinosaur

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Large Strange Gourd 10 seeds
Dinosaur Gourd is a very unusual club gourd with raised "veins" A new item for us and a real novelty that I will certainly be growing next year in our seed trials.

Gourd Speckled Swan

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Ornamental Gourd 10 seeds
Gourd Speckled Swan reminds you of a swan with its fresh dark green skin colour, with light green speckles. Grows to about 12" from the curve in the neck to the base of the fruit but a few fruits may have necks that do not bulb out. Very unusual and good for drying.

Gourds Autumn Wings

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Ornamental warted Gourds 10 seeds

This ornamental gourd mix is a delightful assortment of deeply winged, warted pears and other shapes. The colours are vibrant, extraordinarily eye-catching and ideal for tabletop decorating.

Gourds Large

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Mixed Shape Large Gourds 10 seeds

I have had great fun growing these large gourds again a few years ago in one of my greenhouses. Don't be fooled by the pictures these are monsters some up to 3ft long! Fully ripe and allowed to dry out in a warm room over winter they turn "wooden" making excellent Maraca ornaments.

Gourds Small Mixed

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Small Gourds Mixe 10 seeds
These small gourds are more like small pumpkin plants with a wonderful colour range of ripe fruits to make a very ornamental bowl for the table. Easily grown in pots and planted out in the vegetable garden alongside your courgettes after all frosts have passed. The trailing vines can be trained up wigwam poles, a fence or left to run over the ground.

Kale Walking Stick

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Jersey Cabbage or Giant Walking Stick Kale 20 seeds җ
Kale Walking Stick is a great novelty vegetable that can reach over 6ft tall with a cluster of edible leaves at the top. At the end of the season the stems can be cut off and polished to make a walking stick. If the plants are left over winter in a mild season they may grow even taller to 10ft!

Kigelia africana

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Sausage Tree 10 seeds

Kigelia africana commonly known as the sausage tree is an African tree beautiful when in flower but easily recognised later by its huge sausage shaped fruits hanging from the branches. Best not planted where people are active underneath the tree as the fruits weigh up to 7Kg each! The fruit is used for some medical skin benefits and the tree is considered sacred by many communities. Only useful as a novelty in the UK but may be suitable for amy region that is frost free and quite cool tolerant.

Luffa

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"Bath Loofah" 10 seeds
This Gourd can be dried and the skin removed to produce the old bath Loofahs - do you remember these for scrubbing your back? Easy to grow from seed.

Mimosa pudica

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Sensitive Plant 20 seeds 
If you have small grandchildren or children you must try growing this unusual Mimosa pudica plant. Only reaching 12" or so high it has delicate ferny foliage and pretty small pink flowers.

However the leaves fold up at the slightest touch recovering in 10 or 15 minutes back to their original form hence the name!