Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: Happy Groundhog’s Day, Goumi Fruit, Peggy Martin Rose, and Earthworms


Happy Groundhog’s Day

The purpose of this opening paragraph is to wish each one of you a Happy Ground Hog’s Day and to remind you to pick up a GHD card for your loved ones before the end of the day. As of this writing, we will experience another six weeks of winter.


Russian olive produces goumi, an edible fruit. Image: Walton Baggett.

Goumi Fruit

Now that the fun and games are over, Walton asked a basic question, “Can you ID”? He also sent in a clear image.

The image shows the foliage and fruit of a Russian olive, an exotic, invasive plant. However, the fruit is edible and called “goumi”. Mr. Sam Powers, a Texas Master Gardener wrote about this fruit in Our Edible Landscape, “This shrub blooms in the fall with tiny inconspicuous fragrant flowers that smell like cinnamon. You can smell the tree 30 feet away. In the spring, the tree has bright red, golden flecked fruit about the size of jelly beans. The fruits hang down like Christmas tree ornaments, and do not grow in clusters. The fruit are each about ¾ inch long and ¼ inch wide with a big center seed. It is bright red when ripe and has a flavor somewhere between a cranberry and a tart blueberry.”


Peggy Martin Rose. Photo: Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard, LSU AgCenter.

Peggy Martin Rose

Barry of Pineville is another reader who share his questions with RSFF, “When is the right time of year to prune Peggy Martin roses? Also, I have two Peggy Martins growing on an old trellis. The trellis is rotting and falling apart. I want to prune the roses and rebuilt a new trellis right after I prune them. How low to the ground can I cut them back to?”

First, let us look at the Peggy Martin roses. Dr. Heather Kirk-Ballard shared a narrative about this tough ornamental, “There is a unique story behind the rose found having survived after being submerged under saltwater for two weeks after Hurricane Katrina. During 2005 when the devastating hurricane hit Louisiana, Peggy Martin was living in Plaquemines Parish in southeast part of Greater New Orleans. When Mrs. Martin returned to her home after the evacuation from the storm, she found only two surviving plants, one of which was a climbing rose that had been started from cuttings and was passed down to her.”

Again, our Master Gardener friends from Texas Master Gardeners provide guidance for pruning PM roses, ““Cane pruning and shaping for Peggy Martin rose should be committed after the first spring bloom.” This advice also includes azaleas and other spring blooming plants.

Dan Gill, retired AgCenter horticulture specialist, discusses the extent of pruning, “Cut back the remaining canes to about 18 to 24 inches from ground level. When you prune back a cane, make the cut about one-quarter of an inch above a dormant bud or newly sprouted side shoot.”


Earthworms. Photo: LSU AgCenter Home Composting Certificate Course.


Joe wants to improve his garden soil and asked, “I’m trying to find out if introducing European earthworms to my garden would be good or bad. Eisenia hortensis is the scientific name. I would also like to know the names of earthworms found in central Louisiana, and can they be used in worm bins.”

There are several aspects to responding to Joe’s questions about using garden worms. Eisenia hortensis or European earthworm seems to be preferred for fishing by sportsmen because of their size.

However, Eisenia fetida or red wigglers are the preferred earthworms for composting according to several extension webpages from across the United States. These worms are very popular for use in vermicomposting or worm composting, and the compost from red wigglers is highly valued by gardeners. NC Extension Service shares this narrative, “When vermicompost is added to soil, it boosts the nutrients available to plants and enhances soil structure and drainage. Vermicompost has also been shown to increase plant growth and suppress plant disease and insect pest attacks.”

AHA tried to find information about native earthworms to central Louisiana, and the internet failed to provide easy answers to Joe’s question.

A PhD dissertation in 1976 by Michael Lee McMahan mentioned five genera of earthworms native to the southern United States from the Carolinas to Texas and Oklahoma.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 337-463-7006 or Also, you can be on the “green thumbs” email list by emailing your request to the address above.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”

2/2/2021 3:26:07 PM
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