Garden Photo of the Day

Bed of nails is a piece of cake

Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais
Click here to enlarge this photo.
Photo/Illustration: Michelle Gervais

No, it’s not a carnival side show act, it’s just one awesome plant. Bed of nails, also known as Naranjilla (Solanum quitoense, annual), is a fuzzy-leaved tomato relative that brandishes wicked purple spikes along its stems and leaf veins. It’s an incredibly easy plant to grow, even from seed, and it’s a stunner in plant combos, where it combines nicely with purple accents and contrasting orange flowers, among tons of other options. If you’re lucky, and it’s been a warm season, your plant may even set fruits, which are orange and fuzzy and supposedly used to make a refreshing drink in some parts of the world (please don’t take our word on this.) They are packed with seeds, however, which can be collected and dried like tomato seeds and stored for a new crop in spring. One plant goes a long way, getting up to 4 feet tall and wide in one season. This one was photographed in the Mary Livingston Ripley Garden in Washington, D.C., and it’s paired with a red Abyssinian banana (Ensete ventricosum ‘Maurelii’, USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11) and a deep purple sweet potato vine (Ipomoea batatas cv., Zone 11).

Welcome to the Fine Gardening GARDEN PHOTO OF THE DAY blog! Every weekday we post a new photo of a great garden, a spectacular plant, a stunning plant combination, or any number of other subjects. Think of it as your morning jolt of green.

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View Comments


  1. arboretum 09/14/2010

    until i saw your closeup photo of the orange fruit, i thought to myself, "why grow something so un-user friendly"?
    but those fruit are a real killer, aren't they?! But aren't you surprised that a public garden would grow this actually dangerous plant for so many people to hurt themselves on?
    with all the suing people worry about, I don't think the Smithsonian lawyers would want to know about this being out there!

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