Cinnamon plant

On trying to grow true cinnamon: Cinnamomum verum  (formerly Cinnamomum zeylanicum, till the council decided that a name change would greatly benefit the world in some small, practically intangible way) is not easy to grow in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Maybe it doesn’t like saline mists. Poor baby. I like the sort of plant you can have shipped from some faraway place, such as Maine or–well, I can’t think of another place, so let’s just say from the jungles of Maine, near Quebec, where a spattering of French is sometimes heard spoken by local magistrates–and, in some unscheduled tempest, the carton containing jungle lianas and the like, falls into the sea and gets tossed around–only to later be discovered by a tribe of wobbly pygmies, whose idea of sartorial excellence centers around the artful arrangement of bits of tawny rope on  their person, accentuating flabby protuberances of soft, pygmy flesh, deemed immoral by the captain of the containership tasked with transporting exotic flora to undisclosed ports, who is now captive and tied to a rubber tree, waiting for the large cauldron within his line of sight to heat up and start bubbling, like lava from the pit of the earth;  and later, as a testament to the miraculous work of international couriers–unafraid of hard work or the scepter of cannibalism–the package containing the plants from Sagadahoc, a consignment of man-eating species and various sought-after spices, arrives safely at my doorstep.


If you found this 250 word post confusing, opaque, and irreverent, a 1,000 word story of mine called Are You Crazy? will be published with great fanfare on the pages of Flash Fiction Magazine on July 24. Do the math and you will conclude that the new story will be four times as confusing as this post on cinnamon, the stuff on your Kellogg’s Apple Jacks cereal. Full disclosure: I get a small kickback in the form of a free cereal box every millennium or two just for mentioning Kellogg.

Then there’s this ditty–

Slipshod Service




Governor’s mansion. Isle of Devils.
A flotilla of pirate ships gathers on Prospero’s island.
After several rounds of cannon fire, the armada disperses.
Breakfast resumes.









banana DSC_3238_agfs_sm



The Great Grapes of Wrath

(one of my best books–if only I had tightened up the title I think it could have been big)

Colville's Glory

Garcinia hombroniana, Seashore mangosteen

Seashore mangosteen

Eugenia selloi. a.k.a. Eugenia neonitida, Eugenia nitida, Pitangatuba


Myrciaria x – Red Hybrid Jaboticaba, Jaboticaba


Malpighia emarginata, Acerola


Annona cherimoya, Cherimoya


Garcinia intermedia, Lemon Drop Mangosteen

Lemon drop mangosteen

Glycyrrhiza glabra, Licorice


Morus nigra, Black Mulberry or Blackberry

Black Mulberry or Blackberry

Dionaea muscipula, small infants

Dionaea muscipula

Plukenetia volubilis, Sacha Inchi, Sacha Peanut, Mountain Peanut or Inca-peanut

Inca Peanut, Jungle Peanut


Prospero Dae


Garcinia humulis

mangosteen family Garcinia humulis

Having gone to the hardware store and having seen a packet of seeds emblazoned with the name Garcinia humulis, achingly displayed next to Detroit beets and plentiful packets of Nantes Scarlet Carrots, I say to myself confidentially–why not?

Purchase in hand, I fetch the mules and ride back to the farm, place the tiny seeds in a dirt patch (tiny is a relative term–most seeds are tiny when compared to the megalomaniacal coconut), cover with volcanic ash, wait impatiently for rain, heavy dew, or tears from a grief-stricken angel, and, several headaches later, there is a tree in the mangosteen family to boast about.

Mangosteen family Garcinia humulis

Ceropegia stapeliiformis var. serpentina


Some people grow petunias, others cultivate Ceropegias.
Some people read E. L. James, others read William Faulkner.

Cinnamon–the spice of literature!


After last week’s exhausting 1,000 word composition and short biography (yes, writing more words is harder, but only proportionally!)
(graciously published by Flash Fiction Magazine)

…there’s this: Cinnamon–the spice of the literary minded.

Some of you may remember my seemingly unsuccessful attemps at growing cinnamon. But now, there is hope, in the form of new growth–and lustrous red leaves at that. What have I learned about growing cinnamon? Cinnamon likes it hot and dry. It is a mistake to overwater the plant in cooler weather–I know, I lost several plants this way. If you are a blogger from Sri Lanka you are probably laughing quietly to yourself (I say ‘you’ because I have it on good authority that there is only one blogger from Sri Lanka).

Cinnamon plant

Of course I have a long way to go before I can harvest cinnamon quills! I read somewhere (probably inscribed on on the back of some pamphelet on the many virtues of communism) that the leaves will impart a cinnamon taste to one’s tea.

Cinnamon plant

Then there’s the story of my Bolivian garcinia (a kissing cousin of the mangosteen). More on this later. And more compositions, perhaps. Thankfully my biography is already written and can be recycled. The three R’s of waste management are, incidentally, reuse, recycle, and redo–how did that get in there?

Prosodic Fioriture (a term from my own Language of Flowers, volume 16, second edition–the first one was just plain bad–its dark heart replete with factual accuracies (the horror), the bane of those writers (post post-modern) who fictionalize the lives and times of flowers, while looking back, jauntily, at dogeared seed catalogs of yesteryear ).

Erythrina crista-galli


Cinnamon seed

How to grow a cinnamon tree.

Do you love cinnamon? Now you can grow your own tree in the privacy of your own home.

3 easy steps

1) Befriend someone living in Sri Lanka. You can probably do this using Social Media, as I am given to understand that anything worthwhile can nowadays be achieved this way (as an aside I was always under the cloudy impression that only birds, and here I’m recollecting from the insuperable annals of my childhood the spectacle of little budgies enlivening a pea-green cage, tweeted). Just don’t blame me if your Sri Lankan friend actually turns out to be some plumber holed up in Baltimore, having delusions of grandeur about owning a farm on some balmy island.

2) Convince the Sri Lankan to locate a cinnamon tree. Make sure he doesn’t mistake it for some other kind of laurel or a licentious weed with aromatic leaves—so easy to do. If your cohort is married, ask him to have his wife confirm the find, as wives are generally speaking better at practical botanical matters than humble workaholic plumber husbands.

3) Once the tree has been identified your contact should set up a makeshift tent near the site and wait patiently till the specimen blooms (this may take several months, and if your botanist is in fact in Baltimore, it may take considerably longer—still, hope springs eternal).

4) I realize this is more than three steps, but I find more and more that one has the tendency to underestimate the complexity of life. Some years elapse (nothing we can do about this) and the tree blooms fortuitously, setting seed. In the interim, quite regrettably, our Sri Lankan dies of some rare blood disorder. His wife, bless her heart, thankfully consents to send the fresh seed using Sri Lanka Express Post-what other choice does she have? All other methods of shipping, carrier pigeon and most couriers, involve interminable delays.

5) Once you receive the seeds, add water to the plastic sleeve (see accompanying photo) and wait.

6) In a few days a miracle occurs. Unfortunately you were occupied elsewhere and missed it. Still, there are more seeds awaiting divine inspiration and you should lickety-split be on your way to starting your own plantation.

Cinnamonum verum seedling

Cinnamonum verum seedling