February 27, 2010

Nageia

A new sectional combination in Nageia Gaertn. (Podocarpaceae)

The genus Nageia has received varying taxonomic treatments. The most recent are those by de Laubenfels (1969, under the name Decussocarpus de Laub.; 1987, as Nageia Gaertn.), by Fu (1992) and by Melikyan & Bobrov (2000). De Laubenfels treated the genus in a broad sense, embracing three sections that are now generally recognized respectively as the separate genera Afrocarpus (J. Buchholz & N. E. Gray) Gaussen ex C. N. Page, Nageia sensu stricto, and Retrophyllum C. N. Page (as by Page, 1989, 1990). In de Laubenfels's earlier paper, these three sections were respectively called Decussocarpus de Laub. sect. Afrocarpus (J. Buchholz & N. E. Gray) de Laub., D. sect. Dammaroideae (Benn.) de Laub. [as ‘Dammaroides’], and D. sect. Decussocarpus.

The name Decussocarpus had been substituted for Nageia Gaertn. as the type of that generic name is based upon mixed elements belonging to Myrtaceae and Podocarpaceae and, in 1969, an Article of the International Code then in force (Art. 70) banned the use of names based on such ‘discordant elements’. This Article was deleted by the Leningrad Congress and the name Nageia once again became legitimate and available for use. This necessitated de Laubenfels's brief paper of 1987, where the three sections of Decussocarpus which he had earlier recognized were respectively renamed Nageia sect. Afrocarpus (J. Buchholz & N. E. Gray) de Laub., N. sect. Nageia and N. sect. Polypodiopsis (C. E. Bertrand) de Laub.

February 24, 2010

Murta

Leaves and fruits of Murta (Ugni Molinae Turcz.) growing in three locations of Chile with diverse climatic conditions were extracted by using ethanol/water mixtures at different ratios and the antimicrobial activity was assessed. Extracts containing the highest polyphenolic content were from murta plants grown nearer to the mountain (58 mg GAE/g murta), subjected to extreme summer/winter-day/night temperature changes and rainy regime. Extracts from leaves collected in the valley and coast contained 46 and 40 mg GAE/g murta, respectively. A mixture of 50% ethanol/water was the most efficient in extracting polyphenols, showing pure solvents—both water and ethanol—a lower extraction capacity.

No correlation between antioxidant capacity and polyphenolic content was found. Extracts from Murta leaves provoked a decrease in the growing of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Staphylococcus aureus, and showed no activity against the beneficial, probiotic bacteria. A significant correlation between polyphenol content and antimicrobial activity on harmful bacteria was found. Myricetin glucoside and quercetin glucoside/glucuronide/dirhamnoside presumably contributed to the antimicrobial activity of the extract.

The higher antimicrobial activity of leaves extracts compared to the fruits could be attributed to flavan-3-ols and other flavonol glycosides. Quercetin glucuronide, myricetin xyloside and flavan-3-ols in polymeric form were tentatively identified for the first time in murta extracts. Both extracts showed an antimicrobial activity similar to some commercial antibiotics, suggesting their suitability to replace synthetic antimicrobials in food.

February 20, 2010

Benefits Of Mulberry

Mulberry, found in subtropical regions, is a deciduous plant with good nutritional value. Its leaves are thin, glossy and light green in color, while the fruit is an aggregate fruit which is composed of many smaller fruits called drupes. The shape of the mulberry leaves could be quite different even on the same tree. Mulberry plants are fast-growing when young, but soon become slow-growing and rarely exceed 10-15 m height. The mulberry plants have been highly regarded in several traditional medicine systems. Regular intake of mulberry in any form would add nutritional value to one’s body and enhance health. A ripened mulberry is dark purple to black, edible, and sweet with nice flavor.



Nutritional Value of Mulberry


  • Carbohydrate (in the form of sugars, mainly glucose and fructose) - 7.8 to 9.2%
  • Protein (with essential amino acids) - 15% to 28%
  • Fatty acids like linoleic, stearic, and oleic acids - 0.4 to0.5%
  • Malic acid, producing sour taste - 1.1 to1.9%
  • Fiber - 0.9 to1.4%
  • Calcium - 1.8 to 2.4%
  • Phosphorus - 0.14 to 0.24%
  • Potassium - 1.90 to 2.87% in leaves, 1.33 to1.53% in young stems
  • Magnesium - 0.47 to 0.63% in leaves, 0.26 to 0.35% in young stems


Health  Nutrition Benefits of Eating Mulberry


  • Mulberry can balance internal secretions and enhance immunity. It promotes proper body fluid production. People suffering from body fluid deficiency could take ten grams of mulberry daily with water.
  • Mulberry is useful for the persons who use their eyes a lot during work. Regular consumption of mulberry strengthens eyesight.
  • Presence of nutritious elements like minerals and vitamins in mulberry helps in curing chronic diseases.
  • Mulberry is helpful for proper gastric juice secretion.
  • Regular use of Mulberry enhances appetite, and also improves the ability for digesting and assimilating.
  • Mulberry could be used to fight problems like chronic gastritis and chronic hepatitis.
  • Regular consumption of mulberry juice would be helpful in curing health problems like anemia, pallor, dizziness, heart-palpitations and insomnia.
  • Persons with graying hair can also get benefited by regular intake of Mulberry. Mulberry juice applied directly on head also promotes healthy growth of hair and blackening.
  • Nutritious value of Mulberry enriches the blood and in the process, soothes the nerves.
  • Mulberry could be helpful in promoting the metabolism of alcohol.
  • Mulberry helps in containing hypertension.
  • Regular intake of Mulberry strengthens body parts like liver and kidney.
  • Mulberry is helpful in treating constipation.
  • Mulberry is instrumental in eliminating abdominal distention.
  • Intake of mulberry juice after any surgery is restorative.
  • Mulberry is helpful in recuperating after long-time sickness.
  • Consumption of Mulberry after childbirth is good for women’s health.
  • Use of Mulberry keeps low cholesterol level in the body.
  • Mulberry can suppress mutagenesis of carcinogens.
  • Regular use of Mulberry prevents cancer of liver.
  • Mulberry is helpful in reducing level of blood sugar.

February 17, 2010

Split-Leaf Philodendron

Common Name: Split Leaf Philodendron
Scientific Name: Monstera deliciosa
Lighting: Moderate
Watering: Moderate

The Split Leafed Philodendron is known for its tropical oversized leaves with what appears to be cuts within them. It is also known as the Swiss cheese plant. I have found the Split Leaf Philodendron to be a low maintenance house plant. The one thing to watch with this house plant is that due to its oversized foliage and the ability to grow in large proportions, you may need to stake the stems.

The Split Leaf Philodendron prefers medium lighting, so it is best to keep this plant located within 5 to 8 feet of a window. However, be careful when choosing the location for this house plant because once you have placed it somewhere it does not like to be moved. This house plant has an attitude of its own, because if you then move it to another location it may drop its leaves in revolt to your moving it. Also, if the light level is to low, the leaves will not develop their unique perforations.

The Split Leaf Philodendron requires moderate watering. Water once every 7 to 10 days. Most do not seem to mind being dry once in a while either. Water thoroughly, keeping the soil evenly moist to.

If the lower leaves begin yellowing you may not be giving the plant enough light or over watering it. While the Split Leafed Philodendron is generally pest-free, aphids, mealy bugs, scales and spider mites can infest them. If this occurs simply spray a dish soap and water mixture over the plant.

On a special note, this houseplant is one of the many poisonous houseplants found in people's homes. Please be extra careful so that your pets or children do not eat the plant.

February 13, 2010

Swiss Cheese Plant

The Swiss Cheese plant (Monstera Deliciosa), as its more common name suggests, really was named after Swiss cheese! It acquired this name because of it's large, heart shaped leaves that are dotted with long holes from the edge to the middle of the leaf, thus a connection with the cheese. However, young plants tend to produce fully formed leaves, the holes only emerging with age. So if your own plant is looking more like a plain old cheddar than it's exotic cousin don't worry, given time it will soon start to look as though a giant moth has been to work on it.

Originating from the rain forests of Mexico and tropical America, Monstera is a tall, climbing plant, that, in its natural environment, clings to the bark of trees with its pencil-thick aerial roots, and can climb up to thirty feet high, producing leaves that are more than a foot wide as it goes. As a houseplant it rarely reaches such proportions and the tree bark can easily be substituted for bamboo canes or, a more pleasing to the eye, moss pole. Any aerial roots that do not cling to its support can be directed into the plants compost, giving a much tidier appearance and helping the plant to grow stronger.

Swiss cheese plants are an easy plant to grow and care for, but because of the size they can eventually reach, anywhere from eight to twenty feet, they are not suitable to all homes. However, it does take a number of years for them to get to these giant proportions, and if the plant does become too tall it is easy enough to cut it back to the height that suits you best; this then directs the plants energies to producing bushier side growth.

But before I go any further a word of warning. The Swiss Cheese plant is poisonous to cats and humans, if you have feline friends or small children this may not be the plant for you. The leaves of the plant contain calcium oxylate and if these, or the sap of the plant, are ingested it will cause intense irritation of the mucous membranes, swelling of the tongue, lips and the palate. If, after coming into contact with the sap of the plant, any of these symptoms occur then seek medical help at once, for you and your pet.

I myself don't have children but I do have four cats, by some miracle none of them have ever been interested in any of the many, many plants they share their home with. I have two medium size Swiss Cheese plants but I still make sure to keep them well out of the cats? way. If you really don't want to take the risk then there are plenty of other large growing houseplants on the market that are safe.

Still with me after that?! Then read on, because to get a strong, healthy Swiss Cheese plant there are a few requirements. Being a tropical plant, Monstera loves a high humidity level, which can be provided through spraying regularly with a misting bottle or standing the plant on a container of moist pebbles. Year-round heat is preferred, with a winter temperature of no lower than 55 degrees Fahrenheit, but they can still do well in a warm room where the temperature does not fluctuate too much. Bright, but not direct, sunlight is preferred and getting as much partially shaded light as possible helps the leaves of an older plant produce more holes.

You may think that being so big the Swiss Cheese plant would need plenty of water, but in fact it doesn't. Your plant should be moderately watered at all times, allowing the soil to dry out considerably between each watering. A regular houseplant feed, mixed with its water every two weeks, will be enough to keep it in good condition and producing more leaves.

Propagation is also quite easy with this plant and should be done in the spring. Any sections of leaves that are producing aerial roots, or show signs of budding root tips at the base, can be snipped off and potted up in a standard potting compost mix, then kept in a warm place and watered sparingly. If you don't want to take cuttings from the plant, but prefer it to increase in size, then you will still need to pot it on each Spring, using a large pot each time to take into account how big this plant can get.

I have just cut one of my own Monsteras down, not because it was big, but because it had grown rather straggly. This is the first time I have tried cutting back and potting on this plant and three weeks after it is still growing strong and the babies are doing fine. However, always remember to keep away from the sap and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.

Another demanding aspect of the Swiss Cheese plant is the cleaning of its many leaves. Any plant left to gather dust can look very unattractive, not only that, it is also very unhealthy for the plant, which needs its leaves clean to 'breath'. I wash my large leaved plants with an old, slightly damp t-towel, although you can now buy various pre-dampened leaf wipes from gardening stores. I have also heard of a method of putting a very small amount of vegetable oil on your damp cloth to wipe over the leaves, but do be very careful with this method, as too much oil will block the pores of the leaf. Leaf shine sprays could also be used on this plant, but I tend not to, mainly because I find them very smelly!

Now I know some people don't like to think about bugs in their home but, like outdoor plants, houseplants can fall prey to various creepy crawlies. Swiss Cheese plants are prone to Spider Mites, Mealy bugs and Aphids. Luckily they are all treatable with most houseplant insecticides, or a wash with tepid water that has had a very small amount of washing up liquid added. Repeat either of these treatments until all signs of the infestation have gone.

The leaves of the Swiss Cheese plant, and their condition, are also a good sign as too how healthy your plant is. If exposed to drafts and fluctuating temperatures leaves become floppy and eventually turn brown. Moving the plant to a warmer area and cutting off the damaged leaves will soon restore your plant. Also, brown leaf spots, tears in the leaves and root rot show that the plant is being watered too frequently. Drain of any excess water and allow the plant to thoroughly dry out before watering again. If your new leaves are coming through on the small side or your plant looks stunted for its age, then it is not getting enough light. Whilst full sun is not a good idea for the Monstera, moving it to a partially shaded area will soon perk it back up.

One amazing aspect of the Swiss Cheese plant is that it bears fruit! However, although the plant itself is easy to grow, it is very hard to actually produce the fruit. Ideally it needs a constant tropical climate or a very warm greenhouse. Kept in these conditions the plant will produce spear-like flowers, which are then followed by a fruit that looks like a cross between a pinecone and an ear of corn. Before it can be eaten the fruit has to be very, very ripe, and it is said to have a taste that is a blend of pineapple and banana. I have never seen a Monstera in flower, let alone bearing fruit!

As well as the common dark green version, the Swiss Cheese plant also come in three other varieties, 'Albovariegata', the leaves of which have irregular, creamy white patches, 'Bonsigiana' an altogether more compact version, and 'Variegata' with a creamy yellow, marbled leaf. However, these three varieties are quite difficult to come by, but if you do find one please let me know, as I wouldn't mind a specimen or two myself!

For anyone who is not put off by the poisonous aspect, or the large proportions of the Swiss Cheese plant, they are an ideal plant for beginners. With a degree of care as to its position, water and feeding requirements and cleanliness, a healthy, adult Monstera will make a stunning statement in your living room, hall or conservatory. (dooyoo.co.uk)

February 10, 2010

Monstera

Seasons/Availability
Monstera is available in the fall.

Description/Taste
Twelve to fourteen months after flowers appear on the exotic monstera plant, pronounced mon-STAIR-uh, this unusual and very tasty cylindrical reptile-like fruit begins to ripen and usually measures six to twelve inches long. The delicious soft and creamy banana-like pulp is ready to eat and not any time before when the hexagon-shaped pieces on its exterior split away from each other. Grayish-white kernels matching the shape of its pineapple type scales offer a delicately flavored fine-textured custard-like fruit. Offering a distinctive sweet-tart flavor, it tastes something like pineapple with hints of banana and mango. Normal gray and black streaks appear on the central core when the edible bits have detached from the stalk. This fruit has to be fully ripe before eating as sharp calcium oxalate crystals of unripened fruit can irritate the membranes of the mouth, tongue and throat.

Nutritional Value
Low in calories, monstera is high in potassium and vitamin C. Eating five daily servings of fruits and vegetables lowers the chances of cancer. A recent study found that eating nine or ten daily servings of fruits and vegetables, combined with three servings of low-fat dairy products, were effective in lowering blood pressure.

Applications
Ripe or softly overripe, monstera fruit is absolutely delicious but it must be fully ripe to be safely edible. As the scales come off or loosen, a fork works best to pick out the scrumptious fruit. To ripen more quickly, wrap in plastic. Generally ripening unevenly and progressively toward the tip in five to six days, enjoy the flavorful morsels as each one completely ripens. Enjoy this full-flavored fruit all by itself or add to sweet blender drinks and cocktails. Pair with a variety of sub-tropical or specialty fruits. Make yummy jellies and desserts. Keep at room temperature; do not refrigerate.

Ethnic/Cultural Info
With the unusual and attractive appearance characteristic of the monstera plant, this aesthetic plant is valued as an ornamental in gardens, homes and greenhouses.

Geography/History
This scarce fruit is available only in big cities, the East Coast, California and Florida. A member of the gigantic Arum family and of the species Monstera deliciosa, monstera is a native of tropical American forests. Familiar to some as the split-leaf philodendron, monstera now flourishes in California and Florida. The name this fruit is best known by is monstera in Florida and California but horticultural literature and the rest of the English-speaking world know it as ceriman. It is also known as Mexican breadfruit. (specialtyproduce.com)

February 5, 2010

Honeydew

honeydew, dailyfruits.blogspot.com, fruit health The honeydew is thought to have originated in Persia, and was also prized by the Egyptians. Today, California, Arizona, and Texas provide most of the honeydew eaten in the United States, with imports from Central America, New Zealand, and Chile filling in any seasonal gaps.


Would you believe that melons, squash, and cucumbers are all members of the same botanical family? Well, they are, and as members of the Cucurbitaceae, or gourd family, they all grow on vines. Melons, except for watermelons, resemble winter squash with a thick flesh and a central seed filled cavity. Watermelons are more like cucumbers with seeds dispersed in a radial pattern throughout the fleshy interior. Melons are classified as fruits, while squash is classified as a vegetable.

honeydew, dailyfruits.blogspot.com, fruit healthSelection  And  Storage



Good quality honeydew have a creamy yellow color with pastel green flesh. You sometimes see another variety with an orange flesh and a salmon-colored rind. When fully ripe, the skin will have a slightly waxy feel, and they will have a sweeter taste than any other melon. They will be firm with a small amount of softness at the stem end and should be heavy for their size. Those weighing about 5 pounds will have the best flavor. Sometimes the seeds of a juicy melon will rattle if the melon is shaken which means it is overripe. Avoid melons that are too firm, too soft, have dark blemishes on the skin or are green-colored. Another good rule of thumb for picking a ripe melon is if it smells good, it will probably taste good.


Refrigerate melons only if they become too ripe or have been cut. Whole ripe or cut melons should be stored at between 40° F and 45° F. A whole ripe melon will last in the refrigerator about three days. To keep a cut melon moist, leave the seeds inside the fruit until you're ready to eat it. Cut melons should be tightly wrapped, and always taste better if they are brought to room temperature prior to eating. In general, melons don't freeze well.


Preparation
It is suggested that you wash honeydew thoroughly before slicing to remove any potential bacteria. The easiest way to enjoy a melon is to cut it in half or quarters (depending on the size), remove the seeds in the portion you plan to eat, then scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon.


To cube a honeydew, take a honeydew that has been quartered lengthwise and slice off the usable fruit from the rind with a sharp knife, then cube as desired. Another method is to slice off the rind with a sharp chef's knife and then slice lengthwise (to the desired width), and cut crosswise into cubes. This method works best when you have a lot of honeydew cubes to do. honeydew balls can be scooped right from the honeydew half without removing the rind. Honeydew ballers come in various sizes and are handy not just for honeydew but for other fruits as well.


If you discover a honeydew is not quite ripe after you've cut it open, it can be rescued with some orange or melon liqueur, orange or other citrus juice,a little sugar, and maybe some minced candied ginger for added flavor. Overripe honeydew can be used for cold melon soup or a smoothie with some yogurt, honey, and orange juice.