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Worth the Name

The news announcing the cause of King Tutankhamun’s death was published recently.   The new evidence of massive head trauma and multiple broken ribs fit a pattern consistent with falling out of and being run over by a chariot.  Presumably his own.  Hearing his name reminded me of a new plant I grew this past summer.  A Sweet Pea ‘King Tut’ (Lathyrus sativus).  I found this organic King Tut at my favorite stand in the Union Square farmer’s market.  I didn’t care  what the color of the flower would be.  I was drawn to the name and the story behind it.  As the legend goes; the seeds were found in King Tut’s tomb years ago and they continue to grow to this day (but perhaps not those in Tut’s tomb).  Whether it’s true or fantasy is another story.  But as archaeology is one of my areas of interest, Egyptian and Southeast Asian in particular, I’m just drawn to the name of the plant.  If someone came up with a plant named ‘King Suryavarman’ I would probably try growing it as well.

King Tut Sweet Pea is short, reaches only 1.5 to 2  feet tall.  It is much shorter than other variety of Sweet pea (Lathyrus odoratus).  I grew them in a pot and tied them to bamboo stalks for support.  The flowers, however, are exceptional in color.  It is a bright royal blue with a hint of pale pink in the center and at the petal’s edge.  It is the bluest of all sweet peas.  The blue fades to a pale blue before the petals drop.  I hope the seeds I keep will germinate next year and continue Tut’s ‘agri-lineage’.

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