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Physalis peruviana

Botanical Name : Physalis peruviana
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Physalis
Species: P. peruviana
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Names; Goldenberry, Peruvian groundcherry,
The plant and its fruit is known as Uchuva (Colombia), Cape gooseberry (South Africa, UK, New Zealand), Inca berry, Aztec berry, Golden berry, Giant ground cherry, African ground cherry, Peruvian groundcherry, Peruvian cherry, Amour en cage (France, French for “love in a cage”), and sometimes simply Physalis

Habitat ; Physalis peruviana is native to S. America – Peru. Naturalized in C. and S. Europe. It grows in the coastal regions and disturbed areas from sea level to 4500 metres.

Description:
Physalis peruviana is a perennial plant, growing to 1.2 m (4ft).It is frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to October, and the seeds ripen from Aug to November. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, wind.

CLICK   &  SEE  THE  PICTURES

Physalis peruviana is closely related to the tomatillo and to the Chinese lantern, also members of the genus Physalis. As a member of the plant family Solanaceae, it is more distantly related to a large number of edible plants, including tomato, eggplant, potato and other members of the nightshades. Despite its name, it is not closely related to any of the cherry, Ribes gooseberry, Indian gooseberry, or Chinese gooseberry.

The fruit is a smooth berry, resembling a miniature, spherical, yellow tomato. Removed from its bladder-like calyx, it is about the size of a marble, about 1–2 cm in diameter. Like a tomato, it contains numerous small seeds. It is bright yellow to orange in color, and it is sweet when ripe, with a characteristic, mildly tart flavor, making it ideal for snacks, pies, or jams.[2] It is relished in salads and fruit salads, sometimes combined with avocado. Also, because of the fruit’s decorative appearance, it is popular in restaurants as an exotic garnish for desserts.

A prominent feature is the inflated, papery calyx enclosing each berry. The calyx is accrescent until the fruit is fully grown; at first it is of normal size, but after the petals fall it continues to grow until it forms a protective cover around the growing fruit. If the fruit is left inside the intact calyx husks, its shelf life at room temperature is about 30–45 days.

Cultivation :
Succeeds in a sheltered position in any well-drained soil in full sun or light shade. Prefers a rich loam[38] but tolerates poor soils. If the soil is too rich it encourages leaf production at the expense of fruiting. Plants tolerate a pH in the range 4.5 to 8.2. The Cape Gooseberry is an evergreen shrub in its native environment. It is not very cold-hardy in Britain, however, though it can succeed outdoors as a herbaceous perennial in the mildest areas of the country or when grown in favoured positions such as the foot of a sunny wall. Some cultivars will tolerate temperatures down to about -10° when grown in this way. It would be wise to apply a good protective mulch to the roots in late autumn after the top growth has been cut back by frosts. In most areas of Britain, however, it needs to be grown as an annual in much the same way as tomatoes. The plant is usually naturally bushy, but it can be useful to pinch out the growing tip whilst the shoots are less than 30cm tall in order to encourage side shoots. This species is often cultivated for its edible fruit in warm temperate and tropical zones, there are some named varieties. ‘Edulis’ is the most common cultivar in Britain, it has considerably larger fruits than the species but these do not have quite such a good flavour. Yields of 20 tonnes per hectare are common in S. America, 33 tonnes has been achieved.

Propagation :
Seed – sow March/April in a greenhouse only just covering the seed. Germination usually takes place quickly and freely. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of fairly rich soil when they are large enough to handle and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Consider giving them some protection such as a cloche until they are growing away well. Diurnal temperature fluctuations assist germination. Division in spring. This is best done without digging up the plant. Remove young shoots that are growing out from the side of the clump, making sure that some of the below ground shoot is also removed. It is best if this has some roots on, but the shoot should form new roots fairly quickly if it is potted up and kept for a few weeks in a shady but humid part of the greenhouse
Edible Uses:
Edible Parts: Fruit……...CLICK & SEE
Edible Uses:

Fruit – raw or cooked in pies, cakes, jellies, compotes, jams etc. A delicious bitter-sweet flavour, it has smaller but sweeter fruits than the cultivar ‘Edulis’. The dried fruit can be used as a raisin substitute, though it is not so sweet. The plant conveniently wraps up each fruit in its own ‘paper bag’ (botanically, the calyx) to protect it from pests and the elements. This calyx is toxic and should not be eaten. The fruit is rich in vitamin A (3000 I.U. of carotene per 100g), vitamin C and some of the B complex (thiamine, niacin and B12). The protein and phosphorus levels are exceptionally high for a fruit. The fruit is a berry about 2cm in diameter. The dried fruit is said to be a substitute for yeast. If picked carefully with the calyx intact, the fruit can be stored for 3 months or more. The fruit is about 2cm in diameter.

Medicinal Uses:

Diuretic; Vermifuge.

The leaf juice has been used in the treatment of worms and bowel complaints. The plant is diuretic. In Colombia, the leaf decoction is taken as a diuretic and antiasthmatic. In South Africa, the heated leaves are applied as poultices on inflammations and the Zulus administer the leaf infusion as an enema to relieve abdominal ailments in children.

Known Hazards : All parts of the plant, except the fruit, are poisonous

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with     your own health care provider.

Resources:
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Physalis+peruviana
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Physalis_peruviana
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Valerianella olitoria

Botanical Name: Valerianella olitoria
Family: Caprifoliaceae
Genus: Valerianella
Species: V. locusta
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Dipsacales
Synonyms:   Lamb’s Lettuce. Valerian locusta (Linn.). White Pot Herb. Lactuca agnina.
(French) Loblollie. Mâche. Doucette. Salade de Chanoine. Salade de Prêtre.

Common names: Corn salad, Common cornsalad, Lamb’s lettuce,  Mâche, Fetticus,  Feldsalat, Nut lettuce,  Field salad, and Rapunzel. In restaurants that feature French cooking, it may be called doucette or raiponce
Habitat : Valerianella olitoria is native to Europe, including Britain, from Scandanavia south and east to N. Africa and W. Asia. It is  now grows wild in parts of Europe, northern Africa and western Asia. In Europe and Asia it is a common weed in cultivated land and waste spaces. In North America it has escaped cultivation and become naturalized on both the eastern and western seaboards
Description:
Valerianella olitoria is a small, annual, bright-green plant, with succulent stems, 6 to 12 inches high, generally forking from the very base, or at least within the lowest quarter of their height. The first leaves, springing from the root, are 1 to 3 inches long, bluntly lance-shaped scarcely-stalked, generally decaying early. The stem leaves are quite stalkless, often stem-clasping. The flowers are minute and are greenish-white in appearance, arranged in close, rounded, terminal heads, surrounded by narrow bracts, the tiny corolla is pale lilac, but so small that the heads of flowers do not give the appearance of any colour…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation & propagation:   When cultivated in gardens, Valerianella olitoria may be sown in rows all through the autumn, winter and early spring, so as to produce a constant succession of crops. A small portion of garden earth sown with the seeds in August, will supply an excellent portion of the salad throughout the winter. The younger the leaves, the better they taste in salad.

Edible Uses: Young leaves  is eaten  raw as salad. A very mild flavour, with a delicate quality that makes them seem to melt in the mouth, they can be added in quantity to salads. The leaves can be available all year round from successional sowings and will only require protection in the colder winters. Flowers and flowering stems  are also  eaten raw.

Nutrition:
Valerianella olitoria  or corn salad has many nutrients, including three times as much vitamin C as lettuce, beta-carotene, B6, iron, and potassium. It is best if gathered before flowers appear

Medicinal Uses:
This herb was in request by country folk in former days as a spring medicine, and a homoeopathic medicinal tincture is made from the fresh root.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider
Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valerianella_locusta
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/c/corsa104.html
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Valerianella+locusta

Water chestnut

Botanical Name :Water caltrop
Family: Lythraceae
Subfamily: Trapoideae
Genus: Trapa
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Myrtales

Common Names: water chestnut, buffalo nut, bat nut, devil pod, Singhara , Pani-fol

Habitat :Water chestnut is native to warm temperate parts of Eurasia and Africa

Description:
water chestnut is a floating annual aquatic plants, growing in slow-moving water up to 5 meters deep.The plant has three species of the genus Trapa: Trapa natans, T. bicornis and the endangered Trapa rossica.

Click to see pictures

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The plant  bears ornately shaped fruits, which in the case of T. bicornis resemble the head of a bull, each fruit containing a single very large starchy seed. T. natans and T. bicornis have been cultivated in China and India for at least 3,000 years for the edible seeds.

The water chestnut’s submerged stem reaches 12 to 15 ft (3.6 to 4.5 m) in length, anchored into the mud by very fine roots. It has two types of leaves, finely divided feather-like submerged leaves borne along the length of the stem, and undivided floating leaves borne in a rosette at the water’s surface. The floating leaves have saw-tooth edges and are ovoid or triangular in shape, 2–3 cm long, on inflated petioles 5–9 cm long, which provide added buoyancy for the leafy portion. Four-petalled white flowers form in early summer and are insect-pollinated. The fruit is a nut with four 0.5 in (1 cm), barbed spines. Seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years, although most will germinate within the first two years.

The plant spreads by the rosettes and fruits detaching from the stem and floating to another area on currents or by fruits clinging to objects, and animals.

The genus has an extensive fossil record, with numerous, distinctive species. Undisputed fossilized seeds have been found in Cenozoic strata starting from the Eocene throughout Europe, China and North America (though, the genus went extinct in North America prior to the Pleistocene). The oldest known fossils attributed to the genus, however, are of leaves from Cretaceous Alaska, referred to the species, T. borealis

Click to see water chestnut seeds  

Edible Uses:

Flour, Salt.

Corm – raw or cooked. A delicious taste, it is sweet and crisp when fully ripe and is starchy before that. Widely used in Chinese cooking, especially in chop suey. A flour or starch can be made from the dried and ground up corm and this is used to thicken sauces and to give a crisp coating to various deep-fried foods. The root is about 4cm in diameter, it contains about 36% starch. A nutritional analysis is available. The plant is used for making salt in Zimbabwe. No more details.The fresh corms can be peeled and eaten like a fresh fruit. The sweet, crisp nutty flavour resembles coconut, apple and some say macadamia nuts. Even if cooked, the chestnuts have the ability to remain crisp, which has been a feature highly favoured, for the texture effect of Chinese dishes. The sweet nutty flavour is popular with children. In fact, the plant is an ideal one to encourage the children to plant and watch grow and produce a treat.Chinese Water Chestnuts are a common ingredient in Chinese and Japanese dishes. They have a delightful appeal added to any stir-fry type dishes.They can also be added to salads.

You may click to see pictures of boiled water chestnut  

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Medicinal Uses:
In Asia people eat Chinese water chestnut for the prevention of stomach problems, including cancer. The corm is also used to relieve fevers, diarrhoea, indigestion, sore throat, jaundice, diabetes, hypertension to promote urination, strengthen the lungs and stomach for haemorrhoids and mouth ulcers. The plant is used to treat abdominal pain, amenorrhoea, hernia and liver problems. The expressed juice of the tuber is bactericidal.

Harvesting:
Chinese water chestnuts are harvested after the stems have turned brown and the corm skins have developed a dark brown colour. If the water can be drained away or pumped out, digging for the crop is simplified. This is where growing in a container will have a definite advantage.

Other Uses:

Weaving.

The leaf stems are used for weaving bags etc.

Cultivation :
A plant of marshes and shallow water, it prefers slightly acid soil conditions and a sunny position. Requires a rich fertile soil. Plants are not very frost hardy, the corms should be harvested at the end of the growing season and stored in a cool damp but frost-free position until the spring. It requires a 7 month frost-free growing season in order to produce a crop. Plants perform best at temperatures between 30 – 35°c during the leafy stage of growth, and about 5°c lower when the tubers are being formed.

Propagation:
Start corms in a tray of moist sawdust,then when about 8 cm high trans plant a 5 cm under and 20-40 cms apart into a half drum full to about 15 cm from the top with a mixture of manure and soil and enough water to cover soil with about 10 cm water.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:
http://www.iron-clay.com/herbal_remedies/chinese_water_chestnut.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_caltrop

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The New Way to Lose Weight

Everyone burns fat differently. So how do you know which method will work for you?

The search for the perfect diet has never been more frenzied. Eat low-carb! No, eat low-fat! But beyond the hype, and the billions spent on weight-loss products, a revolutionary idea is catching on with researchers: the notion that no two individuals lose weight the same way. Each person has a hidden key to weight loss.

Some people find this key on their own. Steven Wallach, for example, spent most of his 40s gaining weight after an injury sidelined him from exercise. At 47, he was, literally, fed up — with pasta, potatoes and bagels — and more than 30 pounds overweight. “I didn’t look or feel as good as I wanted to,” admits Wallach, a jeweler in the New York City suburbs. He buckled down to a strict Atkins diet plan, cut out his beloved starches and within five months dropped 30 pounds. Another five came off when he took up running. A year later, his weight has stabilized and he considers himself a lifelong convert. “I could eat this way forever,” he says cheerily as he digs into his scrambled eggs.

For Katie White, 27, a San Francisco bookkeeper, the weight-loss process was entirely different. She didn’t want to eliminate whole food groups, so decided instead to reduce her portion sizes. She swapped fast food for simple home-cooked meals that she’d learned from her mother and grandmother while growing up in Brooklyn. White snacked on fresh fruit and was “religious” about her daily regimen of sit-ups. She dropped 20 pounds her way — a way she could live with and not feel deprived.

It’s possible that neither Wallach nor White would have succeeded on the other’s diet plan. They are living proof of what diet experts are coming to believe: One diet does not fit all. Each of us has markedly different indicators that influence how quickly we gain weight, and how hard it will be to lose it. In addition to the basics, such as height and age, scientists now realize our gender, genetics, metabolism, muscle mass, ethnicity, willingness to exercise, lifestyle, attitude and even where we live all come into play. This idea runs counter to what most diet-book authors or pricey weight-loss centers preach: that their plan is the key to the kingdom of the slim. A custom-fit diet not only makes sense, it’s also good news for the dieter who couldn’t lose weight on this year’s fad, or who took off pounds quickly and then gained them back (and more).

That message couldn’t come at a more opportune time, as Americans continue their climb toward universal pudginess. Since the ’70s, obesity rates have doubled and fully two-thirds of the country is overweight. Even more alarming: The number of fat kids has tripled in the past 30 years. The problem reaches beyond vanity, since diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure and some forms of cancer are associated with obesity.

Different Strokes
The individualized approach to dieting has powerful proof at the Weight Loss Registry, a roster of successful long-term dieters started 12 years ago. To be included, members must have maintained a 30-pound weight loss for at least a year. At 4,800 members, the Registry is now the largest collection to date of long-term weight-loss data, says its cofounder James Hill, PhD, director of the Center for Human Nutrition at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center and co-author of The Step Diet Book. The Registry’s key finding, he reports, is that “there are a lot of different ways to lose weight.” The Registry entrants did “low-carb diets, low-fat diets, diets based on the food pyramid, the grapefruit diet, the beer diet … it’s amazing how many different plans worked.”

Even the venerable weight-loss program at the Duke Diet and Fitness Center in Durham, North Carolina, which recently had only a single low-fat, low-salt plan consistent with American Heart Association guidelines, now gives patients choices. “As of last year, we offer a wider range of options, including three different versions of low-carb diets,” says Howard Eisenson, MD, the center’s director. “There has been emerging research showing that some people do very well with those plans.”
What Kind of Car Are You?
While all of us require regular fueling and maintenance, just like cars, we’re made to different specifications. Some of us are trim, fuel-efficient Hondas; others are wide-bodied, gas-guzzling Hummers. “Eventually we will be able to identify dozens of different types of obesity, and therefore dozens of ways of treating it,” says C. Wayne Callaway, MD, an endocrinologist and weight specialist at George Washington University. In his practice, he sees people who have insulin resistance (a condition in which the body becomes less sensitive to insulin and begins to overproduce it to compensate); genetic variations in the autonomic nervous system that favor storing more abdominal fat; and people whose metabolisms have temporarily slowed while dieting. While some of these patients might need one of the few FDA-approved prescription weight-loss drugs, many will benefit from a diet that works with their body and lifestyle.

The human machine also contains a computer (otherwise known as the brain) that supplies the other half of the weight-loss equation. Eating is an emotional, cultural and personal experience, not just fuel.

What type of diet should a person choose? That question hit home with Gary Foster, PhD, clinical director of the Weight and Eating Disorders Program at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, who compared low-fat and low-carb regimens. Though still a firm proponent of low-fat “heart healthy” diets, Foster found, in a recent study he headed, that after one year of adherence, the two diets offered equal benefits in pounds lost — but those on the low-carb plan had greater improvement in some heart-disease risk factors such as cholesterol levels. (Experts caution, though, that the long-term safety of low-carb, high-protein diets is unknown.)

“On a low-fat diet there’s a lot of counting calories, fat grams, fiber, sodium,” says Foster. “But some people like the freedom it provides to choose what to eat as long as they keep track of it. Others would prefer a simpler plan like Atkins, where you just count one thing: carbs.”

7 Tests for the Perfect Diet
How do you find a healthy way of eating you can live with long-term? Experts suggest an inventory of physical and psychological factors, based on the following easy self-exams:

The Glycemic Index
If you tend toward abdominal fat, crave starches and sugars, and have a fasting blood- sugar count of more than 100 (measured in a routine blood test), says Callaway, you may be insulin resistant. You’ll probably respond best to a low-carb diet, because cutting back on simple carbohydrates — especially sugars and starches — can often help stabilize blood-sugar and insulin levels.

The Exercise Equation
Active people, says David Schlundt, PhD, an associate professor of psychology at Vanderbilt University who specializes in weight disorders, might consider a low-fat diet that includes complex carbs. “You need glycogen for athletic performance, and it’s harder work for your body to take in a lot of protein and convert it to glucose,” he advises.

One thing all researchers agree on, however, is that everyone who wants to lose weight should get some exercise. “In our studies,” adds Schlundt, “people who exercised as well as dieted lost more fat and less muscle.” The one similarity among dieters catalogued in the Weight Loss Registry, says James Hill, is that they all combined dieting with regular exercise.

The Meal Monitor
Do you hate breakfast? Avoid lunch? Skipping meals or undereating slows your metabolism and blurs the chemical signals for hunger and fullness. “You can stabilize your neuropeptide Y levels, the ‘hunger’ chemical, by eating at least a third of your calories at breakfast and another third at lunch,” says Callaway. Complex carbs are good, especially early in the day. They rev up the metabolism, replenish the body’s need for glycogen and they digest slowly, which keeps you feeling full longer.

The Broccoli Barometer
What foods do you love and hate? You can’t disregard this factor or you’ll never be able to live with your diet. Vegetarians, for instance, will have a hard time following Atkins because of its reliance on meat. You’ll do better with a calorie-controlled, low-fat diet that allows for fruits, vegetables and complex carbs. On the other hand, if you’d rather give up pasta than steak, pick a low-carb option.

The All-or-Nothing Question
Some people do best depriving themselves of foods they crave, so they aren’t tempted, which may be why some bread and cereal lovers are converts to a low-carb plan.
The Stress Test
If you feel hungry often and like to snack, or if you tend to use food for comfort, consider a low-energy-density plan like the one endorsed by the Mayo Clinic. Although suitable for anyone, this diet is particularly good for people who are emotional eaters, explains Donald Hensrud, MD, a weight-management specialist at Mayo. “People eat until they’re satisfied or full,” he points out, and you can eat more in terms of volume on this plan. The Clinic has come up with its own Healthy Weight Pyramid, emphasizing fruits, vegetables and whole grains. An emotional eater, says Schlundt, will also do better reaching for low-energy-dense snacks like fresh fruit, a treat that might be off-limits for a low-carb dieter.

The Convenience Quiz
The Mayo Clinic is also studying a Slim-Fast-based diet to see if busy people will do better on a simple, ready-made plan. If you want a no-brainer diet, a meal-replacement regimen or a system like Jenny Craig’s could be right for you.

Remember that gender makes a difference too. “Men tend to have an easier time losing weight because they usually have more lean muscle mass, which means they burn more calories,” says Hensrud. This can be frustrating, Schlundt points out, if a couple diet together, and he loses weight faster. Another truth, Hensrud adds, is that women who are dieting seem to enjoy group support like a Weight Watchers program, while men may prefer being tough and doing it on their own.

The Diet for the Future
Will this new research lead to the end of dieting as we know it? It might loosen the stranglehold of the mega-diets like Atkins and South Beach. In any case, the Weight Loss Registry points out that although people lose weight by all different methods, they tend to keep it off in remarkably similar ways. Overwhelmingly, Hill says, successful dieters follow four rules in their maintenance phase:

  • Eat breakfast.
  • Eat a calorie-aware, moderately low-fat diet that includes complex carbs.
  • Get plenty of exercise at moderate intensity. Walk!
  • Self-monitor through frequent weigh-ins and a food and exercise diary

From:     Reader’s Digest.