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Video: Cultivation Of The American Lakonos
Phytolacca americana is a delightfully blooming perennial
About six years ago, quite by accident, in one of the horticultural centers, I was offered to purchase an unusual plant - lakonos.
It was inexpensive and, succumbing to the advice and colorful stories of the consultant about the unusual appearance of this plant and its low prevalence among amateurs, I bought this "miracle".
I was pleased with this new handsome man in the very first season, but there were some surprises - he froze out in the very first winter. But I will not rush, I will tell you everything in order, because the end of this story is still happy. There are about 35 species of lakonos, mainly in America.
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On the territory of the CIS, only one species is widespread - the American lakonos (Phytolacca americana) or the ten-chained lakonos (Phytolacca decandra) of the phytolaccaceous family (Phytolaccaceae). It has spread widely as a weed near dwellings, along roads, in vegetable gardens in the Caucasus, in the lowland and foothill regions of the Transcaucasia and Ciscaucasia.
Its popular names are fatty grass, Jewish ivy, lentils, kermes berries. It is a powerful herbaceous perennial with a thick, sturdy, woody green (sometimes reddish) stalk, 1 to 3 m high annually dying off. Hibernating dormant buds are laid on it. The leaves of the lakonos are alternate, ovate or ovate-lanceolate, large, 10–20 cm long and 3–6 cm wide, with a strongly prominent median vein; they are green and later redden.
The flowers of the plant are small - about 0.5 cm in diameter, collected in dense inflorescences - elongated brushes up to 15 cm long and about 2 cm wide. The flowering of the curl begins in July and lasts until the end of August, and in September the berries ripen, forming dense brushes. Shiny, varnished berries, first dark red and then almost black.
Their juice is dark red (hence the name of the plant: translated from Latin it means "red juice"). Flowers and fruits are directed vertically upward, resembling candles on a Christmas tree. And at the time of the ripening of black berries, the curl bush stands, as if crowned with dark shiny candles, similar to a candelabrum.
The attractive appearance of its fruits is deceiving, since they are poisonous. However, despite this property, they were previously used to improve the color of wine. And in the wine-growing regions of Southern Europe, this juice is still used to color light wines. In the US Pharmacopoeia, lakonos preparations are used in the treatment of certain diseases.
The leaves of our handsome man contain a large amount of oxalic acid. Found in the roots of the plant are the alkaloid phytolancin and an essential oil with a pungent odor and pungent taste. The fruits, leaves, roots and seeds of the lakonos contain saponins, tannins, bitterness, and sugars. Lakonos are unpretentious and can grow on any fertile soil. Still rare in our gardens, this plant has been cultivated in Europe since 1615, and it appeared there as an invasive plant.
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Lakonos is not picky about soils, grows well both in the shade and in sunny areas, on light, medium-heavy and not too acidic (pH 5.5-6.5) soils. It is quite hygrophilous, but, having a powerful root system, it provides itself with moisture well. In the fall, with the onset of frost, the stems are cut off at the base, and the plant is covered for the winter with peat, humus or leaf litter with a layer of up to 10 cm. To my regret, in the first winter I did not provide the hair with proper wintering, and therefore it froze out.
But I never thought of parting with such a beautiful plant. The next spring, I acquired seeds and revived it through sowing. Around the middle of June, I planted seedlings and the next season received 15 young lakonos plants, which were already blooming beautifully. If you also want to propagate your lakonos with seeds, then they should be sown freshly harvested and unpeeled from the pulp, without deeply burying into the ground. Amicable shoots appear in the spring, when the ground is warm enough. Some seedlings will bloom in the same year, in August. Lakonos can also be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in early spring.
Now there are many Lakonos in my garden, and they all grew from seeds. From year to year they grow stronger and amaze us with their size and delightful flowering. And with the approach of autumn, their black fleshy fruits marvelously combine with the blooming colchium and autumn rudbeckia. And can you even assume that summer is already running out ?!