The egg tree ( Solanum melongena ) does not bear eggs, but edible egg fruits. We show photos of the egg tree and how you can plant and grow it yourself. With its edible white fruits, the egg tree brings a true rarity to the plate and can also be cultivated here. In this article, you will learn all about the properties, cultivation, and uses of the egg tree.
Egg tree: origin and characteristics
The egg tree belongs to the group of aubergines ( Solanum melongena ) and is therefore a nightshade plant ( Solanaceae ). The egg fruits, which are mainly used in Asian and Mediterranean cuisine, come in all color variations from black and purple, green, yellow to orange, and red to creamy white. Only the white and oval eggplants are called the egg tree because they are closest to the color and shape of an egg. The egg tree is also known under the name ‘Oeuf Blanc’ and is said to come from Japan.
Egg fruits: taste and appearance
As the name suggests, the egg tree forms oval-round, creamy-white fruits. The purple flowers, from which the light eggplant arise, are particularly decorative. The egg tree is in bloom from June to July, and the first fruits are ready to harvest after around 65 days. The plant looks like a typical eggplant, it becomes about 60 to 80 centimeters high. Its leaves are light green, large and lobed, hairy, and fluffy. The ripe fruits, like most eggplants, taste very little and are therefore suitable for all kinds of vegetable dishes.
Plant the egg tree
You can either buy seedlings of the egg tree directly from gardening shops or grow them from seeds on the warm windowsill as early as February. The egg tree needs a lot of warmth and is happy to have a sheltered and sunny spot when planted from mid-May – whether in the pot, on the balcony, in the greenhouse, or outdoors, it doesn’t matter. The optimal planting distance between the egg tree plants is 40 centimeters.
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When growing in a bucket, pre-fertilized potting soil, is very suitable for filling. It already contains essential nutrients that can be absorbed by the young plants and thus offer them a good start into summer. The planter should have a volume of around 5 liters. When planting, the egg tree plant is not placed any deeper than in the previous potty. After planting, water your egg tree vigorously without wetting the leaves. With this watering method, you prevent fungal diseases that could get onto the plant from the earth with water spray.
Maintain egg tree
The egg tree needs little maintenance over the summer. The plant grows slowly until July and should be watered regularly and supported and tied up as it grows taller. As soon as the egg tree unfolds its full purple flowers, it should be fertilized for the first time. With a purely organic liquid fertilizer, the supply of nutrients is very easy. The fertilizer is added to the irrigation water about once a week and then reaches the roots of the egg tree when it is watered.
The nutrient-hungry eggplant variety can therefore absorb important minerals such as nitrogen and potassium very quickly. In the hot months, the plants should be checked for pests or diseases now and then. Thrips ( Thysanoptera ) and spider mites ( Tetranychidae ) can develop into a plague on the egg tree. In addition, if the humidity is too high, fungal diseases such as root rot caused by Fusarium solani, gray mold rot ( Botrytis cinerea ), or powdery mildew ( Erysiphe spp.) Can occur.
Propagation of egg trees
You can extract seeds from your egg tree yourself and use them to propagate the plant. In principle, the egg tree is a solid variety because it is self-fertile and usually pollinates itself independently. In this way, all the properties of this special aubergine are retained and show up again in the offspring. To be on the safe side, the plants you want to harvest seeds from should be isolated from other eggplants.
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If you bag the flowers so that bumblebees and other insects do not pollinate them with foreign pollen, you should shake them now and then so that they pollinate themselves well. As soon as the flowers fall off, the bag can also be removed. The fruits should stay on the plant for a long time and only be harvested when they are ripe so that the seeds can develop well. In autumn you cut up the ripe fruits, spoon the seeds onto a handkerchief and let them dry. If stored in a dark and cool place, they can germinate for about 5 years.
Hibernate the egg tree
In tropical and subtropical countries, eggplants and therefore also the egg tree are perennial. With us, the egg tree freezes to death very quickly in winter temperatures, so you should only try to overwinter indoors. The plant should be as bright and cool as possible, but not cold below 10 ° C and only watered sparingly.
The greatest risk that the egg tree will not survive the winter is under the following circumstances: If the soil rots, if temperatures are too warm, if there is little light, and if it is infected with pests. With a little luck, however, you can get the egg tree through the winter and look forward to an even bigger harvest next year.
Harvest and use egg fruits
The first fruits can be harvested from September. You can find out exactly how to harvest and store eggplants correctly in our special article. The fruits of the egg tree, the egg fruits, are braised, fried, gratinated, or cooked in curries in southern cuisine. The egg tree is breaded and fried in a pan and eaten as a “vegetable schnitzel”. Marinated and baked in the oven, the eggplant is part of Mediterranean antipasti. Sliced on the pizza, the white aubergine is a juicy topping. The egg fruits can also be used for vegetarian spreads. The vegetables can be used universally and because of their low taste, they are suitable for a wide variety of dishes.