Jewels of Opar
Talinum paniculatum (Jacq.) Gaertn. is the correct and accepted scientific name for this species of Talinum. It was described as such by Joseph Gaertner in De Fructibus et Seminibus Plantarum in 1791. It was first named and described as Portulaca paniculata by Nicholaus Joseph von Jacquin in Enumeratio Systematica Plantarum in 1760.
Talinum Adans. is the correct and accepted scientific name for the genus. It was named and described by Michel Adanson in Familles des Plantes in 1763. Plants of the World online by Kew lists 18 accepted species of Talinum.
The Talinum genus was formerly in the Portulacaceae family, but Plants of the World Online by Kew currently lists them in the Talinaceae.
My start of Talinum paniculatum was given to me in the spring of 2012 by my good friend and fellow plant collector Walley Morse. I was living at the mansion in Leland, Mississippi at the time and he is from Greenville. He gave me two clumps so I put one in the corner bed on the west side of the front porch and one in the bed next to the west sunroom. He has a beautiful yard and travels to many shows and bring a lot of plants back home. I was glad that he shared many plants with me.
Family: Talinaceae (Formerly in the Portulacaceae family)
Origin: South-southwest United States, Mexico, Central America
Zones: USDA Zones 9a-10b (20 to 35° F)* 7a
Size: 18-24” tall
Light: Sun to light shade
Water: Average, drought tolerant
The Talinum paniculatum is considered a herbaceous perennial succulent. It is a succulent, I suppose, but it seems more like a perennial. Some information also refers to it as a succulent sub-shrub. Its stems are kind of fleshy but they become slightly woody with age.
The distribution map on Plants of the World Online is sort of short of its distribution area. Even the USDA Plants Database doesn’t list Mississippi. Anyone that has grown this plant in the south has it forever and it can get a little pushy. Just think of how many people have bought these plants over the years in various parts of the country and passed them along to others. This is definitely a plant that you will want to pass along either because you like it and want to share or you don’t know what to do with the extras.
I sold the mansion in Leland to a group who converted it into The Thompson House Bed and Breakfast. Dad asked me to move back to the family farm in mid-Missouri, so in February 2013 I made the move. I gave up around 200 plants but brought many with me, including my two clumps of Talinum paniculatum.
When temperatures permitted, I planted them on the south side of the house in the southwest corner. I put one on each side of the downspout. They flourished here in full sun and even grew larger than they did in Mississippi.
Taking good photos of the tiny flowers was difficult. Sometimes I had to use a magnifying glass in front of the lens but most of the photos were too blurry even then. I have a new camera now that is a little better.
There are two cultivars of Talinum paniculatum, ‘Limón’ and ‘Kingwood Gold’. There is also a variegated variety.
Deadheading the flower stems when the seed pods start to develop is one way to keep this plant from reseeding so much. Within no time you will have another flush of flowers to deadhead. This process will repeat continuously until the plants get zapped by a frost. In areas where there is no frost, these plants may flower 12 months a year.
On the morning of August 30 (2013) I took this photo. As you can see the plant is LOADED with what looked like seed pods and only a few flowers. Then…
I took this photo in the early evening when the Talinum paniculatum was in the shade. Now, instead of being loaded with seed pods, it is LOADED with flowers. Apparently, what I thought was seed pods in the morning were buds.
I saved plenty of seed toward the end of the summer just in case they didn’t self-sow.
I didn’t need to plant the seeds I saved. 2013 was the second summer I had grown the Talinum paniculatum but 2014 was the first spring I experienced the seeds coming up. It made me wonder what the beds looked like at the mansion where they had been in 2012.
The Jewels of Opar did well during the summer of 2014 but I didn’t have the opportunity to take many photos or do much gardening. I didn’t take any photos in 2014 after July 12.
The same thing happened in 2015. I had other things going on and not much time for gardening or taking photos.
Hmmm… Long story but I don’t want to talk about it. But, finally, I got back into the swing of things. It seems like maybe the Jewels of Opar just barely came up. Well, I didn’t take many photos of anything and I didn’t have a blog in 2016.
Finally, I started blogging again in January 2017 and started taking LOTS of photos again. I was trying to get back in the swing of gardening. The Jewels of Opar in the above photo were coming up in the planter behind the olf foundation (where my grandparent’s old house was). I transplanted them in the bed on the south side of the house.
I put a row of them along the border in the center of the bed.
As usual, they did very well with minimal care.
According to information online, they prefer a well-drained, moist soil rich in organic matter. Folks, this plant will grow in just about any soil with good drainage.
The Talinum paniculatum grows best in full sun but is also tolerant of light shade. In Missouri, I have only grown them in full sun, but in Mississippi I had them growing where they only had a few hours direct sun if that much.
This plant is also edible and have a sharp flavor. The leaves can be used in salads and stews. The young stems can be used in stews but after a while they become woody.
The Talinum paniculatum also has herbal uses and benefits (See the link to Herbpathy and Philippine Medicinal Plants below)
Our first frost of 2017 was on October 28. Several plants took it pretty hard but the Jewels of Opar seemed unaffected. They are not all that frost tolerant, but a few light touches of frost seem OK especially if they are sort of protected. Eventually, though, they finally got a good ZAP. GEEZ!
The 2017-2018 winter was harder than any had been since I had been back in mid-Missouri. We had several days of -10 degreed F at the beginning of January and the cold just lingered. We didn’t have much snow, however, which is worse than if we did. Snow protects plant roots from severely cold temperatures. I was concerned that perhaps the Talinum paniculatum seeds would not come up because it was so cold.
Then I checked to see if there were any seedlings coming up on May 17. To my surprise, they were!
What do I think about the Talinum paniculatum? Personally, I think they are a jewel. They really don’t get that out of hand here in mid-Missouri like they do in the south and southwest. They are not perennial here so I have to reply on self-sowing. It would be a good idea to save seed every year just in case something weird happens and the seed they sow on their own doesn’t come up. You just never know…
I hope you enjoyed this page and maybe found it useful. If you have any comments, questions or suggestions, I would like to hear from you. Please click on “like” if you visited this page. It helps us bloggers stay motivated. 🙂 You can check out the links below for further reading. The links take you directly to the genus and species of this plant.