Ginseng plant is highly valued --- thanks to its root system, which is a tonic for many folks who believe in its medicinal value.
Interestingly, the root system of Jewels of Opar (Talinum paniculatum) resembles that of the ginseng plant. Because of this, it is also called fake ginseng plant. The photos below show the root systems from 2 of the plants that I had grown for around 3 months. Each was about 7 cm in length and 1 cm in width. This was the first time that I have seen the actual root system of this plant. True enough, the root systems really look like ginseng root.
The first time I saw this plant was at a gardening plot in my son's school. Subsequently, it landed up in my flower pot by pure chance. It first appeared like a weed and I did not recognize it. Fortunately, I have the habit of keeping unknown weeds in my pot until I am sure it is not something of interest to me before I remove it. Soon, the plant grew taller to reveal its true identity. The lone seed has probably dropped into my pot from a plant above my block.
The flowers of this plant bloom and withered at the same time. They also appear to bloom only at a specific time of the day. Their life span is rather short --- lasting around 2 hours. Based on my observation, the bloom starts at around 4 o'clock in the afternoon.
Besides growing from seeds, the plant can be propagated by simply cutting off a branch and sticking it in the soil. I tried and it worked. Below are photos on the cut and the new plant.
I have initially mistaken this plant as Ceylon Spinach (Talinum fruticosum), a closely related species. Ceylon Spinach has another commonly used scientific synonym --- T. triangulare. In the pictorial guide book "1001 Garden Plants in Singapore, 2nd Edition, page 427), there appears to be a mixed up of the scientific names of T. triangulare and T. paniculatum.
Based on the description of the reference in the Pacific Island Ecosystems at Risk (PIER) website, the sepals of T. paniculatum is 2-4 mm long while that of T. fruticosum is 4-5 mm long. It is therefore quite clear that the one with small flowers should then be T. paniculatum.
To better illustrate their differences, I have showed some features of the 2 plants side-by-side. The photos in the left column are T. fruticosum while those on the right column are T. paniculatum.
Just because a single seed found its way into my flower pot, I have learned so much about this plant. Life is indeed a miracle ---- if one can appreciate it. As for Ceylon Spinach, I have no grown it myself and will not be able to tell the appearance of its root system. Maybe another seed will find its way to me --- who knows. Though both plants can be eaten as vegetable, I have yet to try it myself.
Last updated: 2 January 2010