Family Heirlooms: Hostas, Tiger Lilies, Yellow Roses, and More

Readers share stories of treasured family plants passed down for generations.


| Fall 2017


Origins of an Orange Tree and a Cactus

In the 1940s, my father’s elementary school teacher gave him some Easter lily cacti (Echinopsis ancistrophora). How she came across a plant from Brazil in rural Nebraska during the Great Depression is anyone’s guess! I officially inherited them from my father upon his death, although I had been caring for them for years by then. The original plants are long gone, so what I have today are their clones — this species sets “pups” that you can pull off the mother plant and use to start new plants. When it blooms, it has a beautiful, pale pink flower that opens at night and smells like Easter lilies. The flowers only last a few hours.

From my father, I also have a calamondin orange tree (x Citrofortunella microcarpa), which was a prize given away in the late 1960s by the Dixie Cup company for collecting box tops. My father carefully saved those box tops while my mother was pregnant with me — the tree and I both came into the family at about the same time. The fruit of this tree is exceptionally sour, so it’s mostly decorative. It hasn’t bloomed in years, but because it’s 50 years old now, that’s not really surprising. When it did bloom, it was the best floral scent in the world!

The cacti are beautiful indoors or out, and the fruit of the orange tree can be eaten — if you’re brave. The fruits can be used for making a pretty good marmalade; sugar cuts the sourness and makes the oranges palatable. These plants have journeyed along with us. The cacti — after their forever-to-remain-mysterious travels from Brazil — grew in Nebraska until my father married a Kansas girl and moved to the Texas Gulf Coast, where they were joined by the orange tree, my sister, and me. We all moved to Boulder, Colorado, where we spent the next 46 years. Last year, we packed up everything except my sister and moved to southern Colorado.

Amy Wieden

Peyton, Colorado






mother earth news fair 2018 schedule

MOTHER EARTH NEWS FAIR

Next: April 28-29, 2018
Asheville, NC

Sit in on dozens of practical workshops from the leading authorities on natural health, organic gardening, real food and more!

LEARN MORE


Subscribe today

Heirloom GardenerCultivate your love of historic plant varieties and traditional recipes with a subscription to Heirloom Gardener magazine today!

Don’t miss a single issue of Heirloom Gardener. Published by the editors of MOTHER EARTH NEWS, Heirloom Gardener provides decades of organic gardening experience from the most trusted voices in the field. Subscribe today and save as much as 52% off the newsstand price! Get one year (4 issues) for only $19!




Facebook Pinterest Instagram YouTube


Copyright 2018, All Rights Reserved
Ogden Publications, Inc., 1503 SW 42nd St., Topeka, Kansas 66609-1265