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Decaisnea is a genus of flowering plant in the family Lardizabalaceae, native to eastern Asia, from China west to Nepal and south to Myanmar.

The genus comprises one or two species, depending on taxonomic opinion. Decaisnea insignis (Griffith) Hook.f. & Thomson was described from Nepal, and is sometimes restricted to the plants occurring in the Himalaya, with Chinese plants distinguished as Decaisnea fargesii Franchet. The only cited distinction (e.g. Bean 1973, Rushforth 1999) between the plants from the two regions is the fruit colour, yellow-green in D. insignis and bluish in D. fargesii. This is of little significance and the two are now combined under the older name D. insignis by some authors (e.g. Flora of China).

They are deciduous shrubs or small trees growing to 5-8 m tall with trunks up to 20 cm diameter. The leaves are pinnate, 60-90 cm long, with 13-25 leaflets, each leaflet 7-15 cm long and 5-10 cm broad. The flowers are produced in drooping panicles 25-50 cm long, each flower greenish-yellow, 3-6 cm diameter, with six sepals and no petals. The fruit is a soft greenish-yellow to bluish pod-like follicle 7-10 cm long and 2-3 cm diameter, filled with an edible transparent glutinous jelly-like pulp containing numerous flat black seeds 1 cm diameter.

Cultivation and uses

Decaisnea is grown as an ornamental plant for its bold foliage and decorative fruit, bright blue in many cultivated plants, which are sometimes nicknamed “dead man’s fingers”. Most plants in cultivation derive from Chinese seed and are commonly grown under the name D. fargesii.

Decaisnea belongs to the chocolate vine family. Its range covers the Himalayas to western China. The plants are deciduous shrubs and noted for their showy ornamental edible fruit. It is not very hard to grow in cooler temperate climates, in a fertile, well-drained soil. They are quite frost hardy, able to tolerate temperatures down to at least -15°C (5°F). USDA Zones 6-10

Written on August 28th, 2012 , Fruits Tags:

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