Root Awakening: Peacock Flower's young seeds are edible

Caesalpinia pulcherrima
Caesalpinia pulcherrimaPHOTO: JANE TOH
Calathea "Silver Plate"
Calathea "Silver Plate"PHOTO: WILSON WONG
1) Money Plant; 2) Song of India and 3) Sweet Prayer Plant
1) Money Plant; 2) Song of India and 3) Sweet Prayer PlantPHOTOS: ELLA PAN

Peacock Flower's young seeds are edible

Are the pods of this plant (pictured) edible?

Jane Toh

This shrub is botanically known as Caesalpinia pulcherrima and is known commonly as Peacock Flower. It is a tropical shrub that is used widely by landscapers in Singapore and its flowers come in many hues.

The immature seeds found in its green pods are known to be edible, but its mature seeds are said to be poisonous.

Various parts of the plant are used in traditional medicine to treat a range of ailments. However, it is best not to consume plant parts when there is insufficient information on whether they are safe to eat and how to prepare them for eating.

Tip: Calathea "Silver Plate" has attractive leaves

Calathea "Silver Plate" is an attractive member of the Prayer Plant family (Marantaceae). It has large oval leaves that are silvery-white (pictured). This plant also produces attractive inflorescences that last long and grow well above the leaves.

Choose this plant for a silver- themed garden and grow a few in a cluster to make a colony.

The plant will thrive in a shaded location of a garden or it can be placed on a windowsill in an apartment. It prefers moist and well- drained soil and should be exposed to at least six hours of filtered sunlight.

The plant should never be allowed to dry out completely. Exposing it to winds will dry out the leaves quickly.

Yellowing leaves due to lack of sunlight

The leaves of these plants turned yellow and lost their vigour. For the tree, I was told to water it many times daily.

What is wrong with my plants?

Ella Pan

Both your Money Plant (photo 1) and Song of India (photo 2) have a few older leaves that have turned yellow. It could be due to the lack of water. Did you leave the plants to dry out excessively? These plants prefer soil that is moist at all times.

The third plant (photo 3) is commonly known as Sweet Prayer Plant. Although it is often regarded as a shade-tolerant plant, it still requires some sunlight to thrive.

The plants need to be exposed to filtered sunlight for four to six hours daily. It is a misconception that they are indoor plants that do not need light to grow at all. Artificial light sources can help, but these need to be intense enough and placed close to plants to be beneficial.

•Answers by Dr Wilson Wong, a certified practising horticulturist and founder of Green Culture Singapore ( He is also an NParks-certified park manager.

•Have a gardening query? E-mail it with clear, high-resolution pictures of at least 1MB, if any, and your full name to

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 17, 2016, with the headline 'Root Awakening'. Print Edition | Subscribe