An egg tree? Yes, it really does exist. Its fruits are very similar to eggs, but they taste a little different. You can find out everything you need to know about the properties and cultivation of the egg tree here.
This is the egg tree
The egg tree is also known under the botanical name Solanum melongena and originates from South America. It is a nightshade plant, more specifically a wild species of eggplant. The egg tree is also related to the potato and tomato, but is more sensitive than either of these plants.
The fruits of the plant form from its violet-blue flowers. At first, they look like small white balls, which makes them resemble eggs. These fruits are what make the plant special and also gave it its name. Over time, the fruits turn golden yellow and are then edible when ripe. You can think of them as tasting similar to ordinary eggplants.
In our latitudes, the egg tree is usually an annual plant, as it is not hardy and thus would not survive the cold season. This is at least the case if you plant it in the garden. As an indoor plant, you can also overwinter your egg tree.
How to plant the egg tree
If you decide to grow the egg tree yourself, there are a few things you should consider. Firstly, it is important that you choose the right location. Also, you need to consider whether you want to plant the plant in a tub or pot or in the garden.
The egg tree prefers a warm and bright, sunny location. However, with constant temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees, it is also possible to keep the egg tree as an indoor plant. During the summer months, however, it is best to bring it outdoors and place it in front of a warming and protective house wall. If the egg tree is kept too cool and it is too dark, it usually does not form flowers and therefore does not bear fruit.
The soil in which you plant your egg tree should ideally be well-drained, nutrient-rich and evenly moist, preferably with sand content. For example, you can use a compost-based substrate. It’s best to opt for a loose, peat-free potting soil.
If you want to plant your egg tree in the garden, follow these instructions:
- Choose a suitable location. Make sure the egg tree is at least 40 centimeters away from other plants.
- Loosen the soil and remove rocks and weeds before planting.
- Then dig a 60 by 60 centimeter hole.
- Depending on the soil conditions, you may want to consider adding drainage to prevent waterlogging.
- Place the egg tree in the center of the hole and fill it with excavated soil. Then tread it down carefully at the edges.
- Finally, water the newly planted egg tree thoroughly.
If you want to plant the egg tree in a pot or tub, you can use the same substrate as in the garden. When planting, proceed as follows:
- Provide a pot or tub that holds at least 10 liters.
- Before filling, equip it with either drainage or a watering rim.
- Pour some of the plant soil into the pot or bucket and then place your egg tree inside.
- Then fill the pot with soil to a few inches below the rim.
- Finally, water the egg tree abundantly.
How to make your egg tree bear edible fruit
When you plant your own egg tree, you surely want it to bear fruit. How to achieve this, we explain here.
If you keep the egg tree as a houseplant, you should make sure that the temperature at its location remains constant. If you have planted your egg tree outside, the right location is crucial for it to produce fruit.
If you have an egg tree in a pot or container, you should regularly give it a good shake. This will help attract insects and fertilize the plant so it will produce fruit. Outdoors, insects perform this task in a conventional manner. It is also important to water the egg tree regularly so that the soil is always moist. If you notice drooping leaves on your plant, it’s usually an indication of a lack of water.
Also, remember to fertilize your plant. In a tub or pot, it’s best to fertilize your egg tree every three weeks from May through June, inclusive. Tips for homemade and sustainable fertilizer can be found here: Fertilizer for plants: Make it yourself, all natural.
Harvesting and using the fruits of the egg tree
If you have done everything right in the care and the external conditions are right, you can start harvesting the fruits of the egg tree from September. You can harvest according to the time, but also according to the color of the fruit. When they have reached a yellowish or creamy color, they are ready for harvesting. It is best to cut them off with a knife, as they can be more firmly attached to the plant. Be careful not to damage the shoots.
After harvesting, you will probably ask yourself what you can do with the fruit. There are different possibilities. Since the egg tree is a wild variety of eggplant, they taste similar to regular eggplants. You can either store them or use them in the following ways:
- Cook different vegetable dishes with the fruit.
- Use them in curry dishes – this is popular in Asian cuisine.
- If you bread the fruit, you can make vegetable cutlets with it.
- In the oven or on the grill, you can turn the fruit into delicious antipasti.
- The fruit of the egg tree is also a good base for spreads.