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Capsicum annuum

Botanical Name : Capsicum annuum
Family: Solanaceae
Genus: Capsicum
Species: C. annuum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Solanales

Common Name:Cayenne,Sweet Pepper

Habitat :Probably native of the Tropics, but the original habitat is obscure.

Description:
Capsicum annuum is an evergreen Perennial growing to 1 m (3ft 3in) by 1 m (3ft 3in). The single flowers are an off-white (sometimes purplish) color while the stem is densely branched and up to 60 centimetres (24 in) tall. The fruit is a berry and may be green, yellow or red when ripe.[6] While the species can tolerate most climates, C. annuum is especially productive in warm and dry climates.
It is hardy to zone 9 and is frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs)

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Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils and can grow in very acid and very alkaline soils.
It cannot grow in the shade. It prefers moist soil.

Cultivation :     
Requires a very warm sunny position and a fertile well-drained soil. Prefers a light sandy soil that is slightly acid[201]. Tolerates a pH in the range 4.3 to 8.3. Plants can tolerate a small amount of frost, but this species does not normally do well outdoors in an average British summer and so it is usually grown in a greenhouse in this country. However, if a very warm sheltered position outdoors is chosen then reasonable crops could be obtained in good summers. This species is widely grown throughout the world, but especially in warm temperate to tropical climates, for its edible fruit – the sweet and chilli peppers. There are many named varieties. There are five basic forms of fruits, each form having various varieties. These forms are:- Cerasiforme. These have small cherry-shaped pungent fruits. Conioides. These fruits are cone-shaped and up to 5cm long. Many of them are grown as ornamentals, but some are also cultivated for food.. Fasciculatum. Also cone-shaped, but with pungent red fruits up to 7.5cm long. Grossum. These are the sweet peppers with large bell-shaped fruits and thick flesh. Longum. These are the cultivated hot cayenne and chilli peppers with long thin fruits up to 30cm long. The pungency of peppers depends upon the presence of a single gene, cultivars that lack this gene are the sweet peppers. A short-lived evergreen perennial in the tropics, though the plants are grown as annuals in temperate zones. Sweet pepper plants are good companions for basil and okra. They should not be grown near apricot trees, however, because a fungus that the pepper is prone to can cause a lot of harm to the apricot tree.

Propagation :    
Seed – sow late winter to early spring in a warm greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 3 – 4 weeks at 20°c. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots of reasonably rich soil and grow them on fast. If trying them outdoors, then plant them out after the last expected frosts and give them the protection of a cloche or frame at least until they are established and growing away well.

Edible Uses :
The species is a source of popular sweet peppers and hot chilis with numerous varieties cultivated all around the world.

In British English, the sweet varieties are called red or green peppers and the hot varieties chillies, whereas in Australian and Indian English the name capsicum is commonly used for bell peppers exclusively and chilli is often used to encompass the hotter varieties. Americans call the sweet types “peppers” and the hot ones “chili peppers” or “chilies” (sometimes spelled “chiles”).

Sweet peppers are very often used as a bulking agent in ready-made meals and take-away food, because they are cheap, have a strong flavour, and are colorful. The colorful aspect of peppers increases the visual appeal of the food, making it more appetizing. Foods containing peppers, especially chili peppers, often have a strong aftertaste due to the presence of capsinoids in peppers. Capsaicin, a chemical found in chili peppers, creates a burning sensation once ingested, which can last for several hours after ingestion.

Medicinal Uses:
Antidiarrhoeal;  Antiemetic;  Antihaemorrhoidal;  Antirheumatic;  Antispasmodic;  Appetizer;  Digestive;  Irritant;  Rubefacient;  Sialagogue.

The fruit of the hot, pungent cultivars is antihaemorrhoidal when taken in small amounts, antirheumatic, antiseptic, diaphoretic, digestive, irritant, rubefacient, sialagogue and tonic. It is taken internally in the treatment of the cold stage of fevers, debility in convalescence or old age, varicose veins, asthma and digestive problems. Externally it is used in the treatment of sprains, unbroken chilblains, neuralgia, pleurisy etc. It is an effective sea-sickness preventative. The German Commission E Monographs, a therapeutic guide to herbal medicine, approve Capsicum for muscular tension, rheumatism (see [302] for critics of commission

Hot peppers are used in medicine as well as food in Africa and other places around the world.

English botanist John Lindley described C. annuum on page 509 of his 1838 ‘Flora Medica’ thus:

“ It is employed in medicine, in combination with Cinchona in intermittent and lethargic affections, and also in atonic gout, dyspepsia accompanied by flatulence, tympanitis, paralysis etc. Its most valuable application appears however to be in cynanche maligna (acute diphtheria) and scarlatina maligna (malignent Scarlet fever, used either as a gargle or administered internally.) ”

*In ayurvedic medicine, C. annuum is classified as follows:

*Gunna (properties) – ruksh (dry), laghu (light) and tikshan (sharp)

*Rasa dhatu (taste) – katu (pungent)

*Virya (potency) – ushan (hot)

Other Uses:
Some cultivars grown specifically for their aesthetic value include the U.S. National Arboretum‘s Black Pearl  and the Bolivian Rainbow. Ornamental varieties tend to have unusually coloured fruit and foliage with colors such as black and purple being notable. All are edible, and most (like Royal Black) are hot.

Known Hazards   Pungent-fruited peppers may cause painful irritation when used in excess, or after accidental contact with the eyes. Although no reports have been seen for this species, many plants in this family produce toxins in their leaves. The sap of the plant can cause the skin to blister.  Avoid in patients taking monoamine oxidase inhibitor antidepressants and antihypertensive drugs

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

Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Capsicum_annuum
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Capsicum+annuum

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Coriander

Botanical Name : Coriandrum sativum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Coriandrum
Species: C. sativum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Common Names:cilantro, Chinese parsley or dhania, coriander greens, coriander herb

Habitat :Cilantro is native to regions spanning from southern Europe and North Africa to southwestern Asia

Description:Coriander is an annual herb . It is a soft, hairless plant growing to 50 cm (20 in) tall. The leaves are variable in shape, broadly lobed at the base of the plant, and slender and feathery higher on the flowering stems. The flowers are borne in small umbels, white or very pale pink, asymmetrical, with the petals pointing away from the centre of the umbel longer (5–6 mm) than those pointing towards it (only 1–3 mm long). The fruit is a globular, dry schizocarp 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in) in diameter.

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First attestick to see ed in English late 14th century, the word coriander derives from the Old French coriandre, which comes from Latin coriandrum, in turn from Greek  (koriannon). The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek ko-ri-ja-da-na  (written in Linear B syllabic script, reconstructed as koriadnon), similar to the name of Minos’s daughter Ariadne, which later evolved to koriannon or koriandron.

Cilantro is the Spanish word for coriander, also deriving from coriandrum. It is the common term in North America for coriander leaves, due to their extensive use in Mexican cuisine.

Edible Uses:
All parts of the plant are edible, but the fresh leaves and the dried seeds are the parts most traditionally used in cooking. Coriander is common in South Asian, Southeast Asian, Middle Eastern, Central Asian, Mediterranean, Indian, Tex-Mex, Latin American, Portuguese, Chinese, African, and Scandinavian cuisine.

The leaves are variously referred to as coriander leaves, fresh coriander, Chinese parsley, or cilantro (particularly in North America).

It should not be confused with culantro (Eryngium foetidum L.) which is a close relative to coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) but has a distinctly different appearance, a much more potent volatile leaf oi  and a stronger smell.

Leaves:
The leaves have a different taste from the seeds, with citrus overtones. However, many people experience an unpleasant “soapy” taste or a rank smell and avoid the leaves.[8][9] The flavours have also been compared to those of the stink bug, and similar chemical groups are involved (aldehydes). There appears to be a genetic component to the detection of “soapy” versus “herby” tastes.

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The fresh leaves are an ingredient in many South Asian foods (such as chutneys and salads), in Chinese dishes, in Mexican cooking, particularly in salsa and guacamole and as a garnish, and in salads in Russia and other CIS countries. Chopped coriander leaves are a garnish on Indian dishes such as dal. As heat diminishes their flavour, coriander leaves are often used raw or added to the dish immediately before serving. In Indian and Central Asian recipes, coriander leaves are used in large amounts and cooked until the flavour diminishes. The leaves spoil quickly when removed from the plant, and lose their aroma when dried

Fruits:
The dry fruits are known as coriander or coriandi seeds. In India they are called dhania. The word “coriander” in food preparation may refer solely to these seeds (as a spice), rather than to the plant. The seeds have a lemony citrus flavour when crushed, due to terpenes linalool and pinene. It is described as warm, nutty, spicy, and orange-flavoured.
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The variety C. s. vulgare has a fruit diameter of 3–5 mm (0.12–0.20 in), while var. microcarpum fruits have a diameter of 1.5–3 mm (0.059–0.12 in). Large-fruited types are grown mainly by tropical and subtropical countries, e.g. Morocco, India and Australia, and contain a low volatile oil content (0.1-0.4%). They are used extensively for grinding and blending purposes in the spice trade. Types with smaller fruit are produced in temperate regions and usually have a volatile oil content of around 0.4-1.8%, so are highly valued as a raw material for the preparation of essential oil.

It is commonly found both as whole dried seeds and in ground form. Seeds can be roasted or heated on a dry pan briefly before grinding to enhance and alter the aroma. Ground coriander seed loses flavour quickly in storage and is best ground fresh.

Coriander seed is a spice in garam masala and Indian curries, which often employ the ground fruits in generous amounts together with cumin. It acts as a thickener. Roasted coriander seeds, called dhana dal, are eaten as a snack. It is the main ingredient of the two south Indian dishes: sambhar and rasam. Coriander seeds are boiled with water and drunk as indigenous medicine for colds.

Outside of Asia, coriander seed is used for pickling vegetables, and making sausages in Germany and South Africa (see boerewors). In Russia and Central Europe, coriander seed is an occasional ingredient in rye bread as an alternative to caraway. Coriander seeds are used in European cuisine today, though they were more important in former centuries.[citation needed] The Zuni people have adapted it into their cuisine, mixing the powdered seeds ground with chile and using it a condiment with meat, and eating leaves as a salad.

Coriander seeds are used in brewing certain styles of beer, particularly some Belgian wheat beers.   The coriander seeds are used with orange peel to add a citrus character.

Roots: click to see
Coriander roots have a deeper, more intense flavour than the leaves. They are used in a variety of Asian cuisines. They are commonly used in Thai dishes, including soups and curry pastes.

Medicinal Uses:
* Digestion
Properties: * Anti-inflammatory * Depurative * Digestive * Emmenagogue * Febrifuge
Parts Used: seeds, essential oil
Constituents:  anethole, camphor, linalool, pinene, quercetin, rutin

Cilantro (leaves)and Coriander (seeds) and are names for different parts of the same plant, Coriandrum sativum, a naturally healing food in both forms. Cilantro is an excellent culinary herb that adds flavor to foods and improvse digestion. There are both scientific studies, and anecdotal evidence to support cilantro’s reputation as a powerful depurative.. The herb may also have a protective effect when cooked and eaten with fish and other foods that may be contaminated with heavy metals.

Coriander, like many spices, contains antioxidants, which can delay or prevent the spoilage of food seasoned with this spice. A study found both the leaves and seed to contain antioxidants, but the leaves were found to have a stronger effect.
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Chemicals derived from coriander leaves were found to have antibacterial activity against Salmonella choleraesuis, and this activity was found to be caused in part by these chemicals acting as nonionic surfactants.

Coriander has been used as a folk medicine for the relief of anxiety and insomnia in Iran.  Coriander seeds are used in traditional Indian medicine as a diuretic by boiling equal amounts of coriander seeds and cumin seeds, then cooling and consuming the resulting liquid. In holistic and traditional medicine, it is used as a carminative and as a digestive aid.

Coriander has been documented as a traditional treatment for type 2 diabetes. A study on mice found coriander extract had both insulin-releasing and insulin-like activity.

Coriander seeds were found in a study on rats to have a significant hypolipidaemic effect, resulting in lowering of levels of total cholesterol and triglycerides, and increasing levels of high-density lipoprotein. This effect appeared to be caused by increasing synthesis of bile by the liver and increasing the breakdown of cholesterol into other compounds.

Coriander leaf was found to prevent deposition of lead in mice, due to a presumptive chelation of lead by substances in the plant.

The essential oil produced from Coriandrum sativum has been shown to exhibit antimicrobial effects.

Known Hazards: Coriander can produce an allergic reaction in some people.

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

 

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Resources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coriander
http://www.anniesremedy.com/herb_detail18.php

Cuminum cyminum (Jeera)

 

Botanical Name :Cuminum cyminum
Family: Apiaceae
Genus: Cuminum
Species: C. cyminum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales
Class :Magnoliophyta
Division :Magnoliopsida

Synonyms : Cuminia cyminum. Cuminum aegyptiacum. Cuminum hispanicum. Cuminum sativum

Common Names:English: Cumin seeds,Hindi: Jeera, Sanskrit: Jeerak, Gujrati :Jeeru

Etymology:
The English “cumin” derives from the Old English cymen (or Old French cumin), from Latin cuminum, which is the latinisation of the Greek (kuminon), cognate with Hebrew kammon and Arabic kammun. Forms of this word are attested in several ancient Semitic languages, including kam?nu in Akkadian. The ultimate source is the Sumerian word gamun. The earliest attested form of the word  (kuminon) is the Mycenaean Greek ku-mi-no, written in Linear B syllabic script.Indian Name is Jira

Habitat : Cuminum cyminum is   is grown in Temperent climate.Western Asia, where it is culti­vated since Biblical times . Main pro­duction countries today are India, Iran, Indonesia, China and the South Medi­terranean.

Description:
Cumin is the dried seed of the herb Cuminum cyminum, a member of the parsley family. The cumin plant   grows to 30–50 cm (0.98–1.6 ft) tall and is harvested by hand. It is an herbaceous annual plant, with a slender branched stem 20–30 cm tall. The leaves are 5–10 cm long, pinnate or bipinnate, thread-like leaflets. The flowers are small, white or pink, and borne in umbels. The fruit is a lateral fusiform or ovoid achene 4–5 mm long, containing a single seed. Cumin seeds resemble caraway seeds, being oblong in shape, longitudinally ridged, and yellow-brown in color, like other members of the Umbelliferae family such as caraway, parsley and dill.

You may click to see the pictures cumin seeds    and      pictures of cumin plant

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Cultivation:
Cultivation of cumin requires a long, hot summer of 3–4 months, with daytime temperatures around 30 °C (86 °F); it is drought-tolerant, and is mostly grown in Mediterranean climates. It is grown from seed, sown in spring, and needs fertile, well-drained soil.

Propagation :
Seed – sow early spring in individual pots in a greenhouse. Grow the plants on fast, and plant them out after the last expected frosts. Give the plants some temporary protection such as a cloche for their first few weeks in the open ground to make sure that they keep on growing in the cooler weather of early summer.

Uses:
Cumin is the most popular spice in the world after black pepper. Cumin seeds are used as a spice for their distinctive aroma, popular in Nepalese, Indian, Pakistani, North African, Middle Eastern, Sri Lankan, Cuban, northern Mexican cuisines, central Asian Uzbek cuisine, and the western Chinese cuisines of Sichuan and Xinjiang. Cumin can be found in some Dutch cheeses, such as Leyden cheese, and in some traditional breads from France. It is commonly used in traditional Brazilian cuisine. Cumin can be an ingredient in chili powder (often Texan or Mexican-style), and is found in achiote blends, adobos, sofrito, garam masala, curry powder, and bahaarat.

Cumin can be used ground or as whole seeds. Cumin was also used heavily in ancient Roman cuisine. It helps to add an earthy and warming feeling to cooking, making it a staple in certain stews and soups, as well as curries and chilli.

Nutritional value:
Although cumin seeds contain a relatively large percentage of iron, extremely large quantities of cumin would need to be consumed for it to serve as a significant dietary source (see nutrition data).

Aroma profile:
Cumin’s distinctive flavour and strong, warm aroma is due to its essential oil content. Its main constituent and important aroma compound is cuminaldehyde (4-isopropylbenzaldehyde). Important aroma compounds of toasted cumin are the substituted pyrazines, 2-ethoxy-3-isopropylpyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butylpyrazine, and 2-methoxy-3-methylpyrazine.

*beta-Pinene
*Cuminal
*Gamma-terpinene

Main constituents:
The fruits contain 2.5 to 4% essential oil. In the essential oil, cumin aldehyde (p-isopropyl-benzaldehyde, 25 to 35%), furthermore perilla aldehyde, cumin alcohol, ?- and ?-pinene (21%), dipentene, p-cymene and ?-phellandrene were found.

In toasted cumin fruits, a large number of pyrazines has been identified as flavour compounds. Besides pyrazine and various alkyl derivatives (particularly, 2,5- and 2,6-dimethyl pyrazine), 2-alkoxy-3-alkylpyrazines seem to be the key compounds (2-ethoxy-3-isopropyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-sec-butyl pyrazine, 2-methoxy-3-methyl pyrazine). Also a sulfur compound, 2-methylthio-3-isopropyl pyrazine, was found. All these Maillard-products are also formed when fenugreek or coriander are toasted. (Nahrung,?  24, 645, 1980)

.Medicinal Uses:
Cumin seed is used for diarrhea and indigestion.  Specific for headaches caused by ingestion. Hot cumin water is excellent for colds and fevers and is made by boiling a teaspoon of roasted seeds in 3 cups of water.  Honey can be added to soothe a sore throat.  It is supposed to increase lactation and reduce nausea in pregnancy.  Used in a poultice, it relieves swelling of the breast or the testicles.  Smoked in a pipe with ghee, it is taken to relieve the hiccups.  Stimulates the appetite.  Still used in veterinary practice.  Cumin mixed with flour and water is good feed for poultry and it is said if you give tame pigeons cumin it makes them fond of their home and less likely to stray.  Basalt mixed with cumin seeds was a common country remedy for pigeons’ scabby backs and breasts.

Other Uses:  The seed contains about 2.5% essential oil. It is used in perfumery and for flavouring beverages.

Known Hazards : May cause hypoglycaemia. Caution need for diabetics. Avoid if taking barbiturates

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

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumin
http://www.ayushveda.com/herbs/cuminum-cyminum.htm
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Cumi_cym.html

Blue-Eyed Grass

Botanical Name :Sisyrinchium bellum
Family: Iridaceae
Subfamily: Iridoideae
Tribe: Sisyrinchieae
Genus: Sisyrinchium
Species: S. bellum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Names :Blue-Eyed Grass, Western Blue-eyed Grass, Californian Blue-eyed Grass

Habitat :Blue-Eyed Grass  is  common in  California and Oregon in and west of the Sierra Nevada, its range extending south into Baja California. In parts of its range, Western Blue-eyed Grass has previously been classified as Sisyrinchium eastwoodiae, S. greenei and S. hesperium, but these names are now considered synonyms.

Sisyrinchium bellum grows as a perennial plant in open places where there is some moisture, particularly grassy areas, though it can also be found in woodlands and at altitudes up to 2,400 metres (7,900 ft). Like other species of blue-eyed grasses that are locally dominant, it is generally known simply as “Blue-eyed Grass” within its natural range.

Description:
Blue-eyed Grass. Sisyrinchium bellum is a 1 foot tall perennial with 1 inch blue flowers in Jan.-June. It has small, iris-like leaves. It is widely distributed in California on open, grassy slopes. It likes full sun and garden water. It also can become very drought tolerant. It grows in sand to clay, coastal bluffs to interior grasslands. There is one spot east of here that gets 8 inches of rainfall each year and blue-eyed grass is doing fine. Cold tolerant to at least 0 as it will go winter dormant in bad years. Big Sky Nursery in Frazier Park says this one did great up there even in the -18 degree weather. We planted these in reflected sun in Taft with once per week or so water and they grew to 2 feet tall with 20 or so flowers at a time covering them for months.

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The stems of Sisyrinchium bellum can grow as long as 60 centimetres (24 in), though they are often shorter. Its leaves are grassy and tufted. The flowers are 1–2 centimetres (0.39–0.79 in) in diameter and purplish-blue, varying somewhat in color from a true blue to a definite purple; occasional white-flowering plants are found. It flowers from March to July. Dried in air, its seeds weigh between 1 and 4 mg. After flowering, it dies to the ground and is dormant over the summer.

Cultivation:
Sisyrinchium bellum prefers some moisture and good drainage, but will tolerate summer dryness. It can be propagated by seed, and it self-sows. It can also be propagated by division of its rhizomes, and the flower stems can be rooted. It is moderately hardy and will tolerate temperatures down to 20 degrees F; -12 degrees Celsius.

Medicinal Uses:
The Ohlone used an infusion of the roots and leaves as a cure for indigestion and stomach pain, and similar uses are recorded from other Native American peoples.

The Coast Miwok have used tea made from blue-eyed grass to treat stomach-aches. Coastanoans and Hispanic Californians  have used the tea to reduce fever.  The Ohlone used an infusion of the roots and leaves as a cure for indigestion and stomach pain, and similar uses are recorded from other Native American peoples. The roots were used as a purgative.

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

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://www.laspilitas.com/nature-of-california/plants/sisyrinchium-bellum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sisyrinchium_bellum

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Baobab(Adansonia digitata)

Botanical Name : Adansonia digitata
Family: Malvaceae
Genus: Adansonia
Species: A. digitata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malvales

Common Name :Baobab

Common Vernacular names:
Adansonia digitata is known by many common names, the most common of which is baobab. It is also known as the dead-rat tree (from the appearance of the fruits), monkey-bread tree (the soft, dry fruit is edible), upside-down tree (the sparse branches resemble roots) and cream of tartar tree. In French, it is known as calebassier du Sénégal and arbre de mille ans; in Portuguese as molambeira, imbondeiro, calabaceira and cabacevre; and in Swahili as mbuyu, mkuu hapingwa, mkuu hafungwa and muuyu.

It is called momret in the Tigrigna language of Ethiopia, where it favors lowland areas with moist and well-drained soils, such as the valley of the Tekeze River lowlands, and “kuka” by the Hausa speaking people of West Africa. In Nigeria, it is a very popular tree in the savannahs of the north and its leaves are used to prepare local soup called “miyan kuka”. In Sudan, the tree is called “tabaldi” and its fruit is called “gongu laze”.

Habitat :Adansonia digitata, the baobab, is the most widespread of the Adansonia species on the African continent, found in the hot, dry savannahs of sub-Saharan Africa. It also grows, having spread secondary to cultivation, in populated areas. The northern limit of its distribution in Africa is associated with rainfall patterns; only on the Atlantic coast and in the Sudan does its occurrence venture naturally into the Sahel. On the Atlantic coast this may be due to spreading after cultivation. Its occurrence is very limited in Central Africa and it is found only in the very north of Southern Africa. In Eastern Africa the trees grow also in shrublands and on the coast. In Angola and Namibia the baobabs grow in woodlands, and in coastal regions, in addition to savannahs. Also found in Dhofar region of Oman and Yemen in the Arabian Peninsula, Asia. This tree is also found in India, particularly in the dry regions of the country

Description:
The trees usually grow as solitary individuals, and are large and distinctive trees on the savannah, in the scrub, and near settled areas, with some large individuals living to well over a thousand years of age. The tree bears very large, heavy white flowers. The showy flowers are pendulous with a very large number of stamens. They carry a carrion scent and researchers have shown that they appear to be primarily pollinated by fruit bats of the subfamily Pteropodinae. The fruits are filled with pulp that dries, hardens, and falls to pieces which look like chunks of powdery, dry bread.

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The African baobab‘s fruit is 6 to 8 inches or 15 to 20 centimetres long. It contains 50% more calcium than spinach, is high in anti-oxidants, and has three times the vitamin C of an orange. It is sometimes called a superfruit. The leaves can be eaten as relish, while the fruit dissolved in milk or water can be used as a drink. The seeds also produce edible oil.

In 2008, the European Union approved the use and consumption of baobab fruit as an ingredient in smoothies and cereal bars.

The United States Food and Drug Administration granted generally recognized as safe status to baobab dried fruit pulp as a food ingredient in 2009.

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It’s large green or brownish fruits resemble gourd-like capsules that are around 6-8 inches in length. These capsules contain a soft whitish fruit pulp that has the appearance of powdery bread and kidney shaped seeds.

To grow A. digitata from a seed, cutting into the thick seed coat greatly speeds up germination, from months or years to seven days.

The specific epithet digitata refers to the fingers of a hand, which the five leaflets (typically) in each cluster bring to mind.

Edible Uses:
The baobab is a traditional food plant in Africa, but is little-known elsewhere. It has been suggested that the vegetable has the potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and support sustainable land care

The fruit can be up to 25 centimetres (10 in) long and is used to make a drink

Medicinal Uses:
The bark of this tree has been used traditionally to fight fevers.  The leaves may be an excellent source of mineral salts, especially calcium, phosphor and iron, amino acids and provitamin A. There are aspects of considerable interest which require further trials on man, in order to confirm the properties extolled by traditional medicine.  Baobab products do not pretend to be a miraculous panacea, but can simply contribute to rebalancing and restoring the main functions of the organism and the epidermis, offering well-being and energy. Only 5 g a day are beneficial to maintain the state of well-being of the organism, since it increases the resistance to viruses (such as flu and herpes), regularizes the intestine, glycemia and the blood cholesterol values, gives strength, energy and resistance, rebalances mood swings, alleviates menstrual pains, and is anti-anemic, febrifugal and anti-inflammatory. Its beneficial properties may also be applied to obtain a healthy skin and to tackle the effects of premature ageing by virtue of the antioxidant, softening, smoothing and elasticizing properties.

The bark, which contains several flavonols, has been sold commercially in Europe under the name ‘cortex cael cedra’, as a fever treatment, and substitute for cinchona bark.

The off-white, powdery substance inside the fruit shell is apparently rich in ascorbic acid. It is this white powdery substance which is soaked in water to provide a refreshing drink somewhat reminiscent of lemonade. This drink is also used to treat fevers and other complaints.

Medicinally, it has many applications. The pulp is consumed to treat fever, diarrhea, malaria, hemoptysis and scorbutic complaints (vitamin C deficiency). The bark and leaves are also useful in the treatment of fever, and are reported to have anti-inflammatory and diaphoretic properties. The seed is either pulped and applied externally, or drink in water, to cure gastric, kidney and joint diseases. In the Kalahari, San bushmen use the seeds as an antidote to Strophanthin, a common plant-derived arrow poison.

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

Resources:
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_AB.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adansonia_digitata
http://www.tarcherbooks.net/?tag=baobab-tree

http://www.madagascar-library.com/r/833.html

http://www.natural-health-and-home-business.com/Baobab.html

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