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Blooming Canopy

These two small trees Katuray and Moringa make a beautiful blooming modified-canopy in the fall on the Northern Gulf Coast.  Katuray and Moringa have very different growing requirements, however. 

While both Moringa and Katuray enjoy hot humid summers and long growing daylight, one will freeze down and re-sprout in the spring being adaptable to our sub-tropical climate; however, the other will wither at the first rumors of frost. 

The two can, however, be encouraged to bloom simultaneously with a little planning. 


Blooming Canopy strategy:

  1. The Moringa is a perennial tree/shrub in the northern Gulf coast climate zone.  It could take a couple/three years to mature the root system enough to produce a 15 foot Moringa in one growing season.  To produce a canopy tree in one season with existing root, remember to only allow ONE trunk to mature.  This will require “pruning/pinching) back any side branching to “push” the central trunk.
  2. The Katuray in contrast will only grow annually in this climate zone.  But, it can grow fast; possibly reaching 15 – 20 feet if given favorable conditions : sun!  Appears to do well in the rich soils of the Luna Hill Forest facing south.  It is reported to be drought tolerant. 
  3. With the 2-3 year old Moringa pushing one 15 – 20 trunk and the Katuray pushing the 1 year 15 – 20 foot sapling, they both should arrive as a dramatic blooming tropical canopy by late September / October.

Shop for: Katuray

Growing Katuray on the coastal Gulf:  See Plant Profiles



Shop for: Moringa

Growing Moringa on the coastal Gulf: See Plant Profiles


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Katuray,  Katurai, Orchid Dubloom

(Sesbania grandiflora)

Shop for: Katuray

Katuray is a fun plant to play with.  It is a tropical and will not last through the winter planted in the ground here on the Northern Gulf Coast.  However, if the gardener wishes a spectacular fall bloom that gets all the neighbors talking, there is a strategy that actually gets the gardener two bloom events in a growing season: Spring and fall.

In the Spring, with a 1 year container plant , install the Katuray when nighttime temperatures are consistently above 50 deg. f.  Here at Luna Peak that is about middle March. 

Plant it in the warmest, sunniest, best moisture spot and by Memorial Day you should have your first crop of blooms on a small shrub.   Katuray blooming is Day Length Sensitive.  This is why it blooms in the Spring (short days) — then grows rapidly to 15 feet in the summer  (long days) — then blooms again in the Fall (short days again):  double blooming events! 

Because of this habit and honoring our Spanish / Luna Expedition cultural heritage, I like to call this plant the “Orchid Dubloom”   

The flowers are the edible part of this plant with some degree of preparation.  The pictures shown here are from white flowers.  Used widely in the Philippines, I found this recipe for Ensaladang Katuray out of Hawaii.  I have not investigated beyond blanching young blooms in broth and stir fry.  Tasty enough.  I have not yet extended the adoption of this plant to my Garden Meal Days (GMD):  I like to watch the bloom.

Luna Peak Adaptation Notes:  Not adapted.  I mostly seek plants that are easy perennial or easy annual.  This is one of those plants (like my papayas) that I am willing to take “heroic measures”  with because this one is symphony in the forest.

What I mean by heroic measures is that this plant needs to be inside nearing greenhouse like conditions from  as long as middle October to  middle March — excepting warm days and stretches in the winter where nighttime temps stay above 50 deg. f.  It is a labor of love to carry it through our sub-tropical winter.

But it is such a beautiful plant that I want to have one each year and like to offer this interesting plant to other folks that like a little drama in the garden.

RSD Design Layer Integration

Sustainability:  Not Sustainable.  Consumes energy carrying plants through sub-tropical winter. Low GMD does not justify. 

Survivability:  Does not meet requirements.  Not Survivable in the absence of external electric utility.  Catastrophic weather events in this region would strip the edible parts from the tree.  Does not produce significant ready-fresh food security for other “lights-out” Threat Event scenarios.

Adaptation: None anticipated through the next 75 – 100 years.

Resilience: None

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(Curcuma longa)

Shop for Turmeric

Turmeric is a great plant to help create that tropical landscape look.  Planted under the modified canopy seen here between papaya, chaya an moringa the plant enjoys the forest opening above yet shaded around.  The three two-year old plants shown above live comfortably within this 20×20 forest community plot. 

Turmeric in this plot occupies an under-story,  shrub placement (root crop) sharing canopy (fruit crop) additional shrub (leaf crop) and, vining (leaf crop). The plants shown in the forest plot above are two years old and produce abundantly offering harvest and replant for next years crop. 

Edible parts of turmeric are the root (rhyzome) fresh and dried.  Turmeric is described through many cultures as useful in cuisine, health and medicine

My first experience with this delightful spice was while traveling in Morocco.  My favorite is Chicken Tagine).  I like the way the chicken fat component softens and elevates the dry-sharp sensation of unaccompanied turmeric. 


Luna Peak Adaptation Notes: Another easy plant to grow in the coastal gulf climate zone. 

RSD Design Layer Integration

Sustainability:  The turmeric plant is highly attractive as a tropical-zone landscape element.  The turmeric bloom adds to the landscaping value and seasonal interest. Turmeric does not directly contribute to GMD performance.  However it sure makes the meals taste good!  

Survivability:  Rhizomes are available in all seasons at Luna Peak and grow without external electric or irrigation utility dependence. This plant is hardy in sub-tropical coastal gulf and easy to grow.  It thrives in the hot and humid northern Gulf coast and is tolerant of subtropical-level cold and freeze experienced here. 

Adaptation: Improves living standard food mile performance.  Turmeric can act as a bridge spice:  Adopting turmeric as a values-added culinary and nutrition ingredient adds interest to known recipes.  As well, turmeric introduces adoption of other unfamiliar vegetables that are also well adaptable to this climate zone and are globally paired with turmeric. 

Resilience: Recovery from catastrophic wind is certain.  Turmeric seems fairly tolerant of short duration of drought.  Climate change threat should be minimal at this location into the 22nd century.

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Korean Bellflower

Chinese Balloon Flower, Korean Bell Flower, Toraji

(Curcuma longa)

Shop for Chinese Balloon Flower

Korean Bell Flower or Chinese Balloon Flower receive their name by the shape of the flower.  The purple flowers mix well in a wildflower meadow landscaping as shown above or can be used as a single swath of flowers for a spectacular carpet of purple (other colors are reported).  

Toraji, Korean Bell Flower
Edible Root: Korean Bell Flower

The edible part of this plant is the root.  This plant grows approximately two years before the root is of harvesting size; however, the gardener will enjoy the beautiful blossoms in the landscape until harvest.



Luna Peak Adaptation Notes:  In the sandy soil of the coastal Gulf, the plant appears to do well as long as the soil is improved.   

RSD Design Layer Integration

Sustainability: Easy to grow, harvest, and store — and pretty too! The root is reported to be edible fresh without any need for irritant removal through cooking.  Improves living standard food mile performance.

Survivability: This plant integrates well for Survivability with it’s long cultural history in Asia as a dry/re-hydrate store.

Adaptation: At Luna Peak, this plant has been grown for several years.  It appears to be without pests, disease and non-invasive.  Further it seems to tolerate lots of sun, heat and humidity as well as it tolerates cold and freeze received here.  No information on salt tolerance is yet available.

Resilience:   The plant does not like the top of its root covered deeply.  Stems have withered and fallen off.  The plant may resend stems but really does not like the tip of the root covered more than 1/4 – 1/2 inch.  Culturing the plant would probably exclude easy-no-till (heavy hay mulch).  It is grown at Luna Peak in a wildflower meadow approach with a light mulch covering.

Recipe Links: Doraji-muchim 

Doraji-muchim is a common dish on the Korean table — one of my favorites.  This recipe shown is a rich hot depth of flavor like so many other Korean recipes; however, there are recipes that do not include the use of red pepper: Doraji-namul.