During the summer of 2010 we were surprised to find that our specimen Decaisnea fargesii had come into bloom for the first time in its ten year history in our garden. We had planted this large deciduous shrub with dreams of having the odd blue bean-like fruits to ornament our garden in the autumn and, until that point, had been disappointed. That year we hand-pollinated the shrub and waited anxiously only to be disappointed once again. In the fall of 2011 we thought we saw fruit developing but we had been deceived. This September our dreams were fulfilled. Gradually the large pods began to mature and take on their characteristic smoky blue, leathery exteriors.
Our friend Martin Nicholson with the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon, suggested that we could eat the fruit once it ripened. All of us at the nursery looked at the fruit warily, especially when the pods began to split and reveal their rounded black seeds encased in a gelatinous substance. I tasted the slimy matter and found it to be modestly sweet. I then proceeded to eat the fruit in order to free the seeds within. After eating five, I suffered no ill effects. Although this is one fruit you will never see in your average American grocery store, it is always exciting to experience as-yet unknown aspects of garden ornamentals.