Years ago some friends at church, the Howards, gave me a bag of seeds. They called them Climbing Okra seeds, but the seeds were black and shaped like small watermelon seeds. I asked them later if I had been given the wrong bag. They assured me that they had shared the intended seeds.
I planted them and was amazed at the vines that grew all over our trellis. There were lovely, glowing, yellow flowers that opened in the evening and fruit that did look and cook like okra.
So what is this mysterious vine of mine?
It is Luffa acutangula. Also know as Chinese okra or edible gourd. It is kin to the cucumber. It’s yellow blossoms open in the afternoon. They seem to glow as the sun goes down.
There are separate male and female flowers. These are pollinated by moths and possibly ants. I have photos of both, busily moving from flower to flower.
Each joint of the vine has one leaf, one tendril to grab and climb, one small cluster of male flowers and one female flower on its own stalk.
The fruit gets long in a hurry. Last year, I was surprised by foot-long “okra” hiding among the foilage.
I look forward to picking a batch and frying them up in cornmeal.
In the meantime, I’ll enjoy the glowing flowers with the moths and ants.