Country of Origin: tropical east Africa, Mozambique
Description: Seed capsule explosively expel seeds when wetted. Trichomes on wet seed stand on end as a mechanism for retaining as much moisture as possible during germination.
Culture: The best time to harvest Crossandra nilotica fruits is when they have dried on the inflorescence. Ideally let as much of the inflorescence dry as possible. That is, don't pick the fruit at the top of the inflorescence until the lower fruit has mostly, if not completely, turned brown also. If you pick the fruit green it will not pop (dehisce) properly, if at all. Again it is probably better to pick the fruit when the whole inflorescence, including the inflorescence stalk (peduncle?) has dried also. It better to have some fruit pop prematurely while you dry it in a paper bag than to have none pop when it is in someones hand (experience tells us this!). We find that the fruit are easier to handle if the sepals and bracts, which can remain connected to the fruit, have been removed from the base to make for a cleaner demonstration. The best way I have found to do this is to reach down to the base of the mature dry fruit with my thumb and forefinger and slide the bracts etc. off of the fruit. If you pinch the fruit the you run the risk of premature dehiscence. 1
USDA Zone: 10a-11
Accession # 199900120
Source: Tim Metcalf - UC Davis ex Hortus Botanic
Voucher 217607 at George Safford Torrey Herbarium (CONN). Specimen collected 6 July 2010. Herbarium Image