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Balsam Apple

Momordica balsamina

In 1810, Thomas Jefferson planted seeds of this annual vine in his flower borders at Monticello along with Larkspur, Poppies, and Nutmeg Plant. Bernard McMahon listed this species as "tender annual flowers" in The American Gardener's Caldendar, an important reference manual that Jefferson owned and often consulted. The Balsam Apple is a tropical vine grown as a garden annual with bright yellow flowers followed by curious, oblong, yellow-orange warty fruits that burst open when ripe, and has attractive, glossy green foliage. It is native to the tropical regions of Africa, Asia, and Australia.

Balsam AppleAlthough the pale yellow, deeply-veined flowers have a subtle beauty, its round, somewhat warty, bright-orange fruits, or "apples", are its most distinguishing feature. When ripe, the fruits burst apart, revealing numerous seeds covered with a brilliant scarlet, extremely sticky coating. The Balsam Apple was introduced into Europe by 1568 and was used medicinally to treat wounds.

Visit Monticello’s Online Shop to check for seeds or plants of Balsam Apple.
Growth Type: 
Hardiness Zones: 
Zone 1, Zone 2, Zone 3, Zone 4, Zone 5, Zone 6, Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9, Zone 10
Location at Monticello: 
West Lawn
Planting Conditions: 
Partial Shade
Blooming History: 
July 12, 2001 to November 1, 2001June 21, 2002 to November 8, 2002July 14, 2003 to October 31, 2003July 29, 2004 to October 26, 2004August 9, 2005 to October 25, 2005July 20, 2006 to October 11, 2006September 7, 2007 to October 12, 2007July 25, 2008 to October 13, 2008July 22, 2009 to October 27, 2009August 1, 2010 to November 1, 2010June 14, 2011 to October 14, 2011July 20, 2012 to November 7, 2012August 21, 2013 to November 7, 2013July 10, 2014 to November 21, 2014June 15, 2015 to October 1, 2015August 5, 2016 to November 4, 2016August 25, 2017 to November 3, 2017


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