Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Helianthus petiolaris

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Botanical Name: Helianthus petiolaris
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Helianthus
Species: H. petiolaris
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales


*Helianthus couplandii B.Boivin
*Helianthus integrifolius Nutt.
*Helianthus patens Lehm.

Common Name : Prairie Sunflower , Lesser sunflower
Habitat : Helianthus petiolaris is native to Central to western N. America – Manitoba and Minnesota south to Arizona.
It grows on sandy soils. Dry prairies.
Helianthus petiolaris is an annual plant growing to 3 m (9ft 10in). While some references put the plant height at up to 6 feet. It can grow in clumps that make it look like a small bush, but it is not unusual to see single plants scattered around…CLICK &   SEE  THE PICTURESLIC

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

Leaves are rather variable—they may be triangular, oval, or shaped like the head of a spear. All leaves have a rough texture and somewhat wavy edges; the color is a dull green, sometimes bluish-green. There are 2 prominent lower veins that run parallel to the main center vein. There may be a few shallow teeth along the edge, but leaves are mostly toothless. The leaf size is variable depending on the shape. Elongated spear-shapes may be up to 6 inches long and 1 inch wide. Triangular leaves are up to 3½ inches long and 2 inches wide. Leaf stalks are ¾ to 1½ inches long, longer towards the base of the plant, becoming shorter as leaves ascend the stem. Stems are typically branched, and have a rough texture.

Flower: Flower blooms between July to September. Flower is 1½ to 3 inches across, 12 to 25 yellow rays (petals) and a dark brown center disk ½ to 1 inch in diameter. A plant has 1 to several flowers, each at the end of a 1½ to 6 inch long stalk. The bracts are flat, wide at the base tapering to sharply pointed tips, with short.bristly hairs. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, flies.
Fruit: The center disk forms a head of ¼-inch brown seeds. Seeds lack a tuft of hairs but have 2 bristly scales at the tip.

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

Succeeds in most soils in a sunny position. Requires a rich soil. Dislikes shade. Grows well on dry soils. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them. This species hybridizes in the wild with H. annuus. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits.

Seed – sow in mid spring in situ. An earlier start can be made by sowing 2 – 3 seeds per pot in a greenhouse in early spring. Use a fairly rich compost. Thin to the strongest seedling, give them an occasional liquid feed to make sure they do not become nutrient deficient and plant them out in late spring or early summer.

Edible Uses:
The seeds in the plant are edible and can be ground up into an oily meal or into a butter.

Medicinal Uses: The powdered leaves, either on their own or in an ointment, have been used as a dressing for sores and swellings.

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.

Herbs & Plants

Jerusalem artichoke

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Botanical Name: Helianthus tuberosus
Family:    Asteraceae
Tribe:    Heliantheae
Genus:    Helianthus
Species:    H. tuberosus
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Asterales

Synonym:  Sunflower Artichoke.

Common Names: Jerusalem artichoke, Sunroot, Sunchoke, Earth apple or Topinambour

Habitat: Jerusalem artichoke is  native to eastern North America, and found from eastern Canada and Maine west to North Dakota, and south to northern Florida and Texas. It is also cultivated widely across the temperate zone for its tuber, which is used as a root vegetable.It grows  on rich and damp thickets.

Jerusalem artichoke is a herbaceous perennial plant growing to 1.5–3 m (4 ft 11 in–9 ft 10 in) tall with opposite leaves on the upper part of the stem but alternate below. The leaves have a rough, hairy texture and the larger leaves on the lower stem are broad ovoid-acute and can be up to 30 cm (12 in) long, and the higher leaves smaller and narrower.

The flowers are yellow and produced in capitate flowerheads, which are 5–10 cm (2.0–3.9 in) in diameter, with 10–20 ray florets.

The tubers are elongated and uneven, typically 7.5–10 cm (3.0–3.9 in) long and 3–5 cm (1.2–2.0 in) thick, and vaguely resembling ginger root in appearance, with a crisp texture when raw. They vary in colour from pale brown to white, red, or purple.

The artichoke contains about 10% protein, no oil, and a surprising lack of starch. However, it is rich in the carbohydrate inulin (76%), which is a polymer of the monosaccharide fructose. Tubers stored for any length of time will convert their inulin into its component fructose. Jerusalem artichokes have an underlying sweet taste because of the fructose, which is about one and a half times sweeter than sucrose.
Jerusalem artichokes have also been promoted as a healthy choice for type 2 diabetics, because fructose is better tolerated by people who are type 2 diabetic. It has also been reported as a folk remedy for diabetes. Temperature variances have been shown to affect the amount of inulin the Jerusalem artichoke can produce. When not in tropical regions, it has been shown to make less inulin than when it is in a warmer region.

A very easily grown plant, it grows best in a loose circumneutral loam but succeeds in most soils and conditions in a sunny position. Plants are more productive when grown in a rich soil. Heavy soils produce the highest yields, but the tubers are easily damaged at harvest-time so lighter well-drained sandy loams are more suitable. Dislikes shade. Likes some lime in the soil. Jerusalem artichoke is reported to tolerate an annual precipitation of 31 to 282cm, an average annual temperature of 6.3 to 26.6°C and a pH in the range of 4.5 to 8.2. Jerusalem artichokes were cultivated as a food plant by the N. American Indians and they are today often grown in temperate areas for their edible tubers. There are some named varieties. The plant is a suitable crop in any soil and climate where corn (Zea mays) will grow. It survives in poor soil and in areas as cold as Alaska. It also tolerates hot to sub-zero temperatures. The first frost kills the stems and leaves, but the tubers can withstand freezing for months. The plants are particularly suited to dry regions and poor soils where they will out-yield potatoes. Tuber production occurs in response to decreasing day-length in late summer. Yields range from 1 – 2kg per square metre. The tubers are very cold-tolerant and can be safely left in the ground in the winter to be harvested as required. They can be attacked by slugs, however, and in sites prone to slug damage it is probably best to harvest the tubers in late autumn and store them over the winter. It is almost impossible to find all the tubers at harvest time, any left in the soil will grow away vigorously in the spring. Plants do not flower in northern Europe. They are sensitive to day-length hours, requiring longer periods of light from seedling to maturation of plant, and shorter periods for tuber formation. They do not grow where day-lengths vary little. The plant is good weed eradicator, it makes so dense a shade that few other plants can compete. The young growth is extremely attractive to slugs, plants can be totally destroyed by them. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer or rabbits. Plants only produce flowers in Britain after a long hot summer and seed is rarely formed. Grows well with corn. Plants can be invasive.

Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Division in spring or autumn[200]. Harvest the tubers in late autumn or the winter and either replant the tubers immediately or store them in a cool but frost-free place and plant them out in early spring. Jerusalem artichoke is propagated by tubers, which should be planted as early as possible in the spring when the soil can be satisfactorily worked. Late planting usually reduces tuber yields and size seriously. Whole tubers or pieces about 50 g (2 oz.) should be planted like potatoes and covered to a depth of 10 cm. Pieces larger than 50 g do not increase the yield, though those smaller will decrease it. Deeper planting may delay emergence, weaken the sprouts, and cause the tubers to develop deeper, making harvest more difficult[269]. Basal cuttings in spring. Harvest the shoots when they are about 10 – 15cm long with plenty of underground stem. Pot them up into individual pots and keep them in light shade in a cold frame or greenhouse until they are rooting well. Plant them out in the summer.

Edible Uses: Coffee;  Sweetener.
Tubers – raw or cooked. The tuber develops a pleasant sweetness during the winter, especially if subjected to frosts, and is then reasonably acceptable raw. Otherwise it is generally best cooked, and can be used in all the ways that potatoes are used. The tubers are rich in inulin, a starch which the body cannot digest, so Jerusalem artichokes provide a bulk of food without many calories. Some people are not very tolerant of inulin, it tends to ferment in their guts and can cause quite severe wind. The tubers are fairly large, up to 10cm long and 6cm in diameter. The tubers bruise easily and lose moisture rapidly so are best left in the ground and harvested as required. The inulin from the roots can be converted into fructose, a sweet substance that is safe for diabetics to use. The roasted tubers are a coffee substitute…....CLICK & SEE 

Medicinal Uses:
Aperient;  Cholagogue;  Diuretic;  Stomachic;  Tonic.

Reported to be aperient, aphrodisiac, cholagogue, diuretic, spermatogenetic, stomachic, and tonic, Jerusalem artichoke is a folk remedy for diabetes and rheumatism.

CLICK & SEE THE MEDICAL PROPERITIES OF  Jerusalem artichoke..>  ...(1).....(2)…
Other Uses:
Biomass.:  The plants are a good source of biomass. The tubers are used in industry to make alcohol etc. The alcohol fermented from the tubers is said to be of better quality than that from sugar beets. A fast-growing plant, Jerusalem artichokes can be grown as a temporary summer screen. Very temporary, it is July before they reach a reasonable height and by October they are dying down.

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.


Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name :Smallanthus sonchifolius
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Smallanthus
Species: S. sonchifolius
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Synonyms: Polymnia edulis, P. sonchifolia

Common Names:Yacon,aricoma, arboloco, aricona, arikuma, colla, chiriguano, ipio, jacón, jicama, jiquima, jikima, jiquimilla, leafcup, llacon, llacoma, mexican potato, polaco, poire de terre, potato bean, puhe, shicama, taraca, yacón, yacuma, yacumpi  Another name for the yacón is Peruvian ground apple.

Habitat :Yacon is native to the lower Andes regions and cloud forests of South America and can be found in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia, and Colombia. It is now widely cultivated for its edible roots throughout Andean South America and has been exported into Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, the Czech Republic, and even the United States as a novel edible root crop.

Yacon plant is  traditionally grown in the Northern and Central Andes from Colombia to Northern Argentina

Description :
Yacon is a perennial herb growing 1.5 to 3 m tall with dark green celery-like leaves. The plant produces both male and female daisy-like yellow to orange flowers that are pollinated by insects. Each plant forms a underground clump of 4 to 20 fleshy large tuberous roots. Each weighs, on average, about 500 g. The skin of the tuber when fresh is a tan to a light yellow in color but quickly turns dark brown to dark purple when exposed to air. Yacon is a member of the sunflower family and while it grows in the warm, temperate valleys of the Andes, it can be found at altitudes up to 3200 meters.
Click to see the pictures…>…(01)....(1).…...(2).....(3)..…(4).…….(5).(6).
Fresh yacon tubers are crisp and juicy with a delicate flavor reminiscent of apple or melon and a surprising sweetness that increases with storage. They are usually eaten raw, (fresh or sun-dried) or steamed, baked, roasted, or juiced into syrup. In the Peruvian Andes where yacon production is flourishing, one can find yacon processed into almost anything in the local markets. . . from pancake syrup, to soft drinks, jam, breakfast cereals, and pudding.

Unlike many other root vegetables domesticated by the Indigenous Peoples of the Andes (ulluco, oca) and mashua, yacón is not photoperiod sensitive, and can produce a commercial yield also in the subtropics.

Cultivation & propagation:
Yacón can easily be grown in home gardens in climates with only gentle frosts. It grows well in southern Australia (including Tasmania) and New Zealand, where the climate is mild and the growing season long. The plant was introduced to Japan in the 1980s, and from there spread into other Asian countries, notably South Korea, China, the Philippines, and is now widely available in markets in these countries. Yacón has also recently been introduced into farmers’ markets and natural food stores in the United States.

Propagation roots with growing points can be planted in a well-dug bed in early spring, near the time of the last expected frost. While aerial parts are damaged by frost, the roots are not harmed unless they freeze solid. Yacón is a vigorous grower much like Jerusalem artichokes. The plants grow best with fertilization.

After the first few frosts the tops will die and the plants are ready for harvest. It is generally best to leave some in the ground for propagating the following spring. Alternatively, the propagating roots can be kept in the refrigerator or buried away from frost until spring. While usable-sized tubers develop fairly early, they taste much sweeter after some frost.

Edible Uses:
The tubers are simply just eaten like a fruit or they are juiced and boiled down to a syrup. The leaves are traditionally prepared as a decoction and taken in dosages of 1 cup two to three times daily.

Current practical uses :
While yacon root is currently being marketed to diabetics and dieters… no blood sugar lowering effects have been published in humans or animals for the tubers (only the leaves). Because it contains a type of sugar that isn’t metabolized (as well as being much lower in calories), it is certainly an appropriate sweetening substitute over regular sugar for diabetics and dieters. Consumers should be aware however, yacon root is not going to help diabetics lower or maintain blood sugar levels as some are trying to market it for (and the tuber actually does contain glucose and fructose).

In local Andean markets today yacon root is considered a fruit and sold with other fruits like pineapple and apples (not in the very large and diverse potato section of the market). The tubers have a wonderful crispy sweet flavor which is enhanced with drying them in sunlight until the peels are slightly wrinkled. They are then peeled and eaten out of hand, chopped into salads, and steamed or fried. The tubers are also juiced and then concentrated into syrups and sweeteners (much like dark corn syrup) or further dried and concentrated to produce solid dark-brown sweet blocks called chancaca. Here in the U.S. several relatively new yacon root syrups are now available in health food stores and natural products markets as a low-calorie alternative to corn syrup or molasses. Try them… they’re great!

Unfortunately, there are also one or two yacon root capsules on the market today which are making claims or pointing to the studies for blood sugar regulation, and/or antimicrobial actions which really only pertain to yacon leaves and not the root/tuber. If one takes yacon root in capsule form, about the only real benefit is as a prebiotic to help gut flora bacteria and possibly increase the natural production of immunostimulating beta-glucans (but it will certainly take much more than a 500 mg capsule or two… remember they eat the tuber by the pound in the Andes, and not by the gram). To aid blood sugar metabolism, look for yacon leaves in capsules or simply dried and cut up leaves sold in packages. There are a only a handful of products to choose from in the U.S. market place as this is a relatively new natural remedy for this country

Chemical Constituents:
The yacon root or tuber is a rich source (up to 67%) of fructooligosaccharides (FOS). These compounds helps gives the tuber its sweet flavor however most of these types of sugars are not readily digested or metabolized easily by humans. For this reason, yacon shows much promise as a food for diabetics and as a base for a low calorie sweetener. These oligofructans have been recently classified as “prebiotics.” Since they are not digested in the human gastrointestinal tract they are transported to the colon where they are fermented by a selected species of gut micro-flora (especially Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus) and help to balance gut flora and aid digestion. One laboratory study suggests that the prebiotic effect of yacon tuber extracts during the fermentation process enhanced the natural production of beta-glucans which act as non-specific immunostimulants.

In addition to these sweet compounds, yacon tubers are also rich in free fructose, glucose and sucrose as well as inulin and starch. Both the tuber and the leaves of the plant contain chlorogenic, ferulic and caffeic acids which are known to provide an antioxidant effect. Several sesquiterpene lactones can be found in the leaves of the yacon plants which have evidenced antibacterial and antifungal actions in laboratory tests.

Other chemicals documented in yacon include: y-cadinene, caffeic-acid, 3-caffeoylquinic-acid, chlorogenic-acid, 2,4-dicaffeoylaltraric-acid, 2,5-dicaffeoylaltraric-acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylaltraric-acid, 3,5-dicaffeoylquinic-acid, enhydrin, ferulic-acid, fluctuanin, gallic-acid, gentisic-acid, inulin, melampolides, oligofructans, beta-pinene, protocatechuic-acid, rosmarinic-acid, sonchifolin, tryptophan, 2,3,5-tricaffeoylaltraric-acid, 2,4,5-tricaffeoylaltraric-acid, and uvedalin

Medicinal Uses:

Hypoglycemic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antifungal, liver protector

Main Uses (leaves):
1.for diabetes and high blood sugar a liver tonic and for liver problems an antimicrobial for kidney and bladder infections an antioxidant (especially for the liver)

Properties/Actions Documented by Research:
antibacterial, antidiabetic, antifungal, antioxidant, hepatoprotective (liver protector), hepatotonic (liver tonic), immunostimulant,

Other Properties/Actions Documented by Traditional Use:
antidiabetic, stomachic (digesive aid)

The tubers are soothing as well as nourishing to the spleen, stomach, lungs and pancreas, and valued as a strengthening tonic for the whole body, giving energy and vitality. Being low in calories, this is a practical vegetable for dieters and diabetics, and the inulin has proved beneficial in stabilizing blood sugar levels. The tuber can be eaten regularly as a food, or juiced for a refreshing drink. Some diabetics juice the tuber and freeze the juice in small containers, to have it available all through the year. Fructose enhances the digestion of foods, particularly the metabolism of carbohydrates, and has a thermogenetic effect, helping the body to burn off calories that have been stored as fat. Leaves are used fresh or dried as a tea with hypoglycemic properties and are commercially sold as such in Brazil.  Yacon reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis associated with resistance to insulin and dislipemia, and has been shown to be effective in feeding hypercaloric disorders, based fundamentally on carbon hydrates. The experimental data show that the oligofructose inhibits the hepatic lipogenesis and consequently they have a hypotrigliceridemic effect.  Yacon reduces the risk of osteoporosis because it improves the breakdown and absorption of calcium in the body, as well as increasing bone density and bone mass. The dried leaves are used to prepare a medicinal tea. Dried yacon leaves are used in Japan, mixed with common tea leaves. Hypoglycemic activity has been demonstrated in the water extract of dried yacon leaves, feeding rats with induced diabetes in Japan.  Eating oligofructose improves health of intestine because of the bifidus bacteria (beneficial) in the colon are stimulated.

Cautions: The leaves will enhance the effect of insulin and diabetic drugs

Other Uses:
In colonial times yacón consumption was identified with a Catholic religious celebration held at the time of an earlier Inca feast. In the Moche era, it may have been food for a special occasion. Effigies of edible food may have been placed at Moche burials for the nourishment of the dead, as offerings to lords of the other world, or in commemoration of a certain occasion. Moche depicted these yacón in their ceramics.
click to see

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.