Extension News

Ask the ISU Extension Experts

Note to media editors: Got gardening questions? Contact the Iowa State University Extension Hortline at (515) 294-3108 (Monday-Friday; 10 a.m.-12 noon and 1-4:30 p.m.) or send an e-mail to hortline@iastate.edu. For more gardening information visit us at Yard and Garden Online at www.yardandgarden.extension.iastate.edu.


Are white fruited pumpkins edible? 
White fruited pumpkins are edible.  White fruited varieties, such as ‘Lumina,’ have a white skin and orange flesh. They are chiefly grown for their unique “ghostly” appearance. However, the orange flesh is suitable for cooking. 

There is a small pile of sawdust-like material at the base of a large tree.  What could be the problem? 
The pile of sawdust may have been produced by carpenter ants. Carpenter ants commonly nest inside older, hollow trees or in trees with dead limbs or branches. Carpenter ants do not eat wood. However, they do excavate some of the soft, decaying wood inside the tree to form their nest cavity. The sawdust-like material is commonly deposited in a pile outside the tree.  Carpenter ants do not seriously harm trees. However, extensive wood decay weakens a tree and makes it more susceptible to storm damage. 

How do I over-winter elephant’s ear? 
Elephant’s ear (Colocasia esculenta) is a tropical plant grown for its huge, heart-shaped leaves.  Dig up the plants after the first fall frost. Cut off the foliage. Dry the tubers in a warm, dry location for one or two weeks. After drying, bury the tubers in peat moss or wood shavings and store them in an area with a temperature of 70 to 75 degrees F. 

Is there any tree or shrub that blooms in fall? 
Most trees and shrubs bloom in spring or summer. However, the common witchhazel (Hamamelis virginiana) is a notable exception. Common witchhazel blooms from mid-October to early December in Iowa. The flowers of common witchhazel consist of four, strap-like, yellow petals, which curl up on cold days and unfurl in warm weather. Common witchhazel is a large shrub or small tree, which grows 15 to 20 feet tall.  It can be successfully grown in part shade to full sun. 


Contacts :

Richard Jauron, Horticulture, (515) 294-1871, rjauron@iastate.edu

Jean McGuire, Extension Communications and Marketing, (515) 294-7033, jmcguire@iastate.edu