Monday, January 14, 2013

New Year's Peas

Some people eat black-eyed peas to celebrate New Year's. We eat cardamom bread, and let our peas stay outside, blooming, sweetening up the yard.

I'm talking not about real peas here, but the vining succulent that hangs from my crepe myrtle, a String-of-Pearls or Rosary Plant, Selecio rowleyanus. It is extremely toxic so I don't recommend having it for a New Year's meal, but don't the fleshy leaves look just like peas hanging on green embroidery thread?

Each "pea" has a vertical transparent section, a window that allows sunlight inside the leaf, so photosynthesis can happen from both the outside and the inside. Because of its round shape, each leaf has the smallest possible surface area to the largest possible volume, geometry in nature. The limited surface area reduces the transpiration possible of the leaf, thereby saving its water. Each leaf is a perfect illustration of the Intelligence of evolution: a sphere allowing the most food production with the least water loss. 

And as if that were not enough, the fuzzy little white and pink-curled flowers smell like cloves, like the inside of a spice cabinet, like the best of wintertime smells.

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