The Keng Hwa chronicles: Life cycle of the fruit

Our Keng Hwa plants were in bloom in late July to early August, and as always, my mum the “Keng Hwa queen” and I eagerly watched the spent flowers to see if they would simply drop off after they bloomed, or if the base of the flower stem would develop into a fruit.

You never can tell, because the top part of the flower stalk turns pink as the flower withers, and the bottom part attached to the leaf remains green until it finally decides whether to stay or go.

The Keng Hwa flower about 3 days after blooming – the flower withers while the base of it may or may not develop into a fruit.

If a fruit develops, the bottom of the leaf stalk will begin to swell while the rest of the stalk, together with the drying flower petals, will continue dying off until they finally detach from the top of the 1cm or so long fruit.

My mum decided to “help” one of the flowers along by snipping off most of the stem while the flower was drying up. I think her reasoning was to save the bottom part of the stem from being completely pulled off by the weight of the whole flower – which is why we ended up with one fruit with an “antennae” on it…

The fully-ripe Keng Hwa fruit … with the flower stem still attached!

The plants eventually grew one fruit each. I fully intended to pluck one when it was ripe (bright pink, like the dragonfruit) and to cut it open to see what the inside looked like, but my mum looked so sad each time I mentioned doing it that I lost the heart for it.

And so, the two fruits continued to ripen on the plants, going from pale green to light, then deep pink. Once they went past being ripe, they began to darken to magenta, then developed brown patches.

Now, one of the fruits is just at the edge of the porch roof, so it gets wet when it rains. If you’re familiar with roselle plants, you’ll know what over-ripe fruits left on plants that get rained on do – and the same thing happened with one of the fruits:

Several Keng Hwa sprouts bursting out of the now rotting fruit on the plant. The fruit has been wet by the frequent rain we’ve had over the past few weeks.

It won’t be long before this fruit is ready to fall off, but I think I’ll talk my mum into plucking it before that so that we can plant the little seedlings. She oughtn’t have any issues with doing that!

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