These rich, earth-toned botanicals offer a touch of distinction to seasonal designs.
by Steven W. Brown, AIFD
1 magical fruits. Fruited branches come from various types of trees and shrubs, and they are members of different botanical families and genera. These branches are treasured for their fanciful fruits that lend accent to floral designs year-round.
2 world fare. Here are five of the most common, commercially produced fruited branches along with their genus and family classifications:
• Crabapple (Malus, pronounced “MAH-lis”); Rosaceae (rose) family
• Fig (Ficus, pronounced “FY-kus”); Moraceae (mulberry) family
• Kiwi (Actinidia, pronounced “ak-ti-NID-ee-uh”), also known as Chinese gooseberry and yang-tao; Actinidiaceae family
• Persimmon (Diospyros, pronounced “dee-OS-pi-ros”); Ebenaceae (ebony) family
• Pomegranate (Punica, pronounced “PEW-ni-ka”); Punicaceae family
3 delicious earth tones. The reds to bronzes of crabapples, greens to peach-orange of persimmons, greens to reds of pomegranates and brown/greens of kiwis and figs add unique colors and textures to seasonal floral designs. And all are edible!
4 delectable names. The genus name Actinidia (kiwi) is from the Greek word “aktinos” (a ray) referring to the styles (part of the pistils) of the flowers that radiate from the center. The genus name Diospyros (persimmon) is derived from the Greek words “dios” (divine) and “pyros” (wheat), meaning “fruit of the gods.” The Latin Ficus translates literally to “fig.” The genus name Malus (crabapple), ironically, means “bad” in Latin. “Pomegranate” comes from the Latin “pomum granatum,” meaning “apple of many seeds.”
5 seasonal heft. Although some fruited branches are available year-round from various suppliers and markets, they are generally most plentiful from late summer through early winter. Because of the weight of the fruit and the woody branches, shipping costs can be high for these products, so, where possible, local or regional growers can be good sources.
6 buying tips. Fruited branches are usually packaged in five- or 10-stem bunches, with the foliage often intact. Examine bunches closely for signs of bruising, mold or rot.
7 natural gas. Some genera of fruited branches are natural producers of ethylene, particularly crabapples, so check with your supplier to ensure that the products you buy were treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or during transportation.
8 no smash hit. Immediately upon their arrival in your store, unpack fruited branches, and recut the stems with a sharp knife or pruners, removing at least 1 inch of stem. Do not mash or smash the stem ends; doing so damages the vascular system of the stems and inhibits water uptake.
9 help them drink. After making fresh cuts to the stems, dip or place them into a hydration solution, then place them into properly prepared flower-food solution. While fruited branches may not benefit from the nutrient in flower-food solutions, they will benefit from the biocide, which will reduce bacteria levels in the storage containers. Store fresh fruited branches in a cool (40 F to 55 F) environment.
10 handle with care. Use caution when processing, storing and designing with fruited branches. Rough handling can bruise the fruit, cause fruit drop, damage the foliage and increase the fruit’s production of ethylene.
some information from
Roy Borodkin, Brannan Street Wholesale Florist, San Francisco, Calif.; California Rare Fruit Growers, www.crfg.org; Chain of Life Network, www.chainoflifenetwork.org; Dave’s Garden, www.davesgarden.com; Edible Landscaping, www.ediblelandscaping.com; Floridata, www.floridata.com; The Garden Helper www.thegardenhelper.com; Landscape America, www.landscape-america.com; The Ohio State University www.ohioline.osu.edu/hyg-fact/1000/1426.html.
Steven W. Brown, AIFD, is a professor and department chair of horticulture and floristry at City College of San Francisco, with 28 years of consulting and educational experience in the floral industry. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or (415) 239-3140.