Herbs & Plants

Water Hyacinths

Water hyacinth-choked lakeshore at Ndere Islan...
Image via Wikipedia

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Botanical Name:Eichhornia crassipes
Family: Pontederiaceae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Liliopsida
Order: Commelinales
Genus: Eichhornia
Species: E. crassipes
Kingdom: Plantae
Habitat :Water courses.Still or slow moving fresh water. Moist and boggy areas. Native of Amazon basin.Brazil, South America.
Common Name: Common Water Hyacinth , water-hyacinth, floating water-hyacinth,Kachuripana
Bengali Name :Kachuripana

Description: Floating plants with thick, glossy leaves, inflated petioles and spikes of lavender flowers.

A frost-tender aquatic perennial that is winter hardy to USDA Zones 9-11 where it can be quite invasive. In St. Louis, it will generally not survive winter and is often grown as an annual. It is easily grown on still water in full sun. Needs hot summer weather and full sun to bloom. Scatter small bunches of plants on the water surface after last frost date. Plants spread quickly in optimum conditions by stolons that radiate outward from the mother plant. Remove excess plants as needed. Several plants may be lifted in fall before frost for overwintering in containers of wet, sandy loam in bright light at indoor temperatures of 60-70 degrees F. However, many St. Louis gardeners prefer to grow water hyacinth as an annual by simply repurchasing new plants each spring. to see the pictures..>.....(01)...(1).……..(2).……..…(3)..………...(4)..……

Plant Type: This is a non-native herbaceous plant, it is a perennial which can reach 50cm in height (20inches). Spreading vegetatively it forms large floating masses. The roots hang in the water and may stick in mud and thus appear to be rooted there.

Leaves: This plant has basal leaves only. Leaves can reach 15cm in length (6inches). Each leaf is generally rounded and entire. Many of the petioles have inflated bases that keep the plant extremely buoyant.

Flowers: The flowers have 6 Regular Parts. They are blue to lavander and purple. Blooms first appear in late spring and continue into late summer. The flowers are in spikes with about fifteen but up to thirty-five flowers.

Seed – Seeds can tolerate submersion or desiccation for 15 years and still germinate. Scarification, but not light, may be required for germination.

Invasion of Lake Victoria

The plant was introduced by Belgian colonists to Ruanda to beautify their holdings and then advanced by natural means to Lake Victoria where it was first sighted in 1988 There, without any natural enemies, it has become an ecological plague, suffocating the lake, diminishing the fish reservoir, and hurting the local economies. It impedes access to Kisumu and other harbors.

Noteworthy Characteristics:
Native to Brazil, water hyacinth is a free-floating, frost-tender aquatic perennial that is commonly used as an ornamental plant in water gardens. It produces rosettes of thick, leathery, ovate to rounded, glossy green leaves with inflated, bulbous leaf petioles that act as floats. Plants spread rapidly by stolons to form a dense mat of foliage (to 6” tall). Spikes of lilac to lavender flowers bloom atop erect stalks to 6-9” tall in summer. Each flowering spike typically has 8-15 flowers. One petal of each flower has a yellow spot at the base. Long greenish-purple roots dangle downward from the plants, providing shelter and spawning areas for many small fish. As an ornamental water garden plant, water hyacinth provides attractive flowers and dense foliage that inhibits growth of algae and helps keep water clear. The value of this plant is directly related to the climate in which it grows. In warm climates where it survives winter, water hyacinth is considered to be a noxious weed because of its ability to rapidly cover a pond or lake from shore to shore and to choke waterways. It has naturalized in the deep South in states such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas where expensive eradication programs have been implemented. It is included on the Federal List of Noxious Weeds. Several southern states have banned its sale. On the other hand, in areas where the plants are not winter hardy, they are being purposefully introduced into wastewater areas to clean up the water because they not only absorb many common pollutants but also absorb some toxic pesticides and heavy metals. Steyermark reports small populations in the Southeast lowlands area of Missouri.

No serious insect or disease problems. Invasive in mild winter climates.

Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Young leaves and petioles – cooked. Virtually tasteless. Said to be used as a carotene-rich table vegetable in Formosa. Javanese sometimes cook and eat the green parts and inflorescence. Flower spikes – cooked.

Chemical Compositions:
chemical composition of water hyacinth was studied. It contained 49.6% protein, 16.0% total lipids, 26.9% total carbohydrates, 1.7% fibre and 5.8% ash. Calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese and potassium were determined. Nutritional properties of the isolate are discussed in relation to its amino acid composition and to its in vitro digestibility by proteolytic enzymes. Comparison with the FAO/WHO reference pattern showed that all of the essential amino acids were present at high levels in the leaf protein isolate. The limiting amino acid in the isolate was methionine (i.e., methionine + cystine). In vitro digestibility was highest with digestion by pepsin followed by pancreatin and lowest with digestion by pepsin alone. Digestion with pancreatin alone gave intermediate values.{As per Journal of Plant Foods for Human Nutrition (Formerly Qualitas Plantarum) Issue Volume: 34, Number 1 / March, 1984 }
Madicinal Uses:
The antoxidative properties of water hyacinth leaves were investigated by evaluating the scavenging capacity of liquid extracts in a competitive protective process against oxygenated free radicals (OFRs) released via electrolysis in a phosphate buffer with a Pt electrode. Colorimetric measurements carried out at 515 nm, through a N,N-diethyl-1,4-phenylenediamine (DPD) assay, showed a decreased absorbance of the sample, as compared to the blank obtained by electrolysis of the buffer without plant extract, revealing, thereby, the presence of antioxidizing agents in the liquid extracts. The antioxidative activity was estimated in terms of equivalent-glutathione (EG, in nmoles equivalent-glutathione per gram of dry plant material selected (eg/gdp)), and compared to those of soya beans and garlic bulbs. The EG value increased with decreasing dilution factors, regardless to the plant type, suggesting a strong influence of the medium pH on the antioxidizing agent extraction yields. Various plant drying procedures, namely: sunlight exposure (at 25–30 °C), heating (40 and 60 °C) and freeze-drying (at –70 °C) were also examined. The highest EG (ca. 40 nmol eg/gdp) was observed for freeze-dried leave extract, while the lowest value was obtained upon heating at 60 °C (16–17 nmol eg/gdp), presumably due to a detrimental effect of increased temperature. The glutathione content in the plant extracts was further determined spectroscopically at 412 nm, through an enzymatic assay, using glutathione reductase. Small but interesting contents of glutathione (ca. 40 nmol eg/gdp) were found in the hyacinth leaves, making this plant to be regarded as an alternative and convenient low-cost raw material for antioxidizing agent recovery.


Other Uses
Biomass; Pollution.
Water hyacinths are potentially an excellent source of biomass. Through an anaerobic fermentation process, polluted hyacinths can be converted to the natural gas methane – a costly process that may become more economical as supplies of underground natural gas are depleted. Dried and cleansed plants can be used as fertilizer and plant mulch. Eventually, living aquatic plants might serve aboard long-distance manned spacecraft, absorbing wastes and converting carbon dioxide to oxygen, then being themselves converted into food. The plant can be cultivated for use in wastewater treatment, and can be incorporated into a system where the biomass is harvested for fuel production. Since this biomass is a by-product of wastewater treatment, it has a positive environmental impact, and thus poses no threat as competitor to food, feed, or fibre-producing plants. Wilted water hyacinth, mixed with earth, cow dung, and woodashes in the Chinese compost fashion, can yield useful compost in just two months. Although potential yields are incredible, so are the costs of removal or attempted eradication of this water weed. Standing crops have been estimated to produce 100-120 tonnes per hectare per year.. Under ideal conditions, each plant can produce 248 offspring in 90 days. Water hyacinth roots naturally absorb pollutants, including such toxic chemicals as lead, mercury, and strontium 90 (as well as some organic compounds believed to be carcinogenic) in concentrations 10,000 times that in the surrounding water. In Africa, fresh plants are used as cushions in canoes and to plug holes in charcoal sacks.
You may click to see:->WATER HYACINTH AND ITS USES

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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Herbs & Plants

Aparajita (Clitoria ternatea)

Botanical Name:Clitoria ternatea
Family Name : Fabaceae,Pipilionaceae.
Subfamily: Faboideae
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Tribe: Cicereae
Genus: Clitoria
Species: C. ternatea
Parts Used : Root, Leaf, Seed.

Synonyms: Aparajita has several synonyms in Ayurvedic scriptures like gokarnika, ardrakarni, girikarnika, supuspi, mohanasini, sveta etc. It is one of the herbs mentioned in all ancient scriptures of Ayurveda.
Aparajita (Hindi)
Gokarna (Marathi)
Butterfly pea (English)
Blue pea vine (English)
Bunga telang (Malay)
Dok anchan (Thai)
Pigeon wings (English)

Common Name: Sankhapusphi

Habitat:Asia, but has been introduced to Africa, Australia and the New World. It grows well in moist neutral soil and requires little care. Aparajita grows throughout India. It is a beautiful-looking plant, hence cultivated in gardens.

Description: It is a perennial twining herb having 7 leaflets, which are elliptic and obtuse; There are few varieties with white, violet and blue flowers. The pods are 5-7 cm long, flat with 6 to 10 seed, in each pod. The flowers resemble in shape to cow’s ear, hence the synonym- gokarnika.Propagates through Seeds

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Chemical Constituents :
Roots contain Taraxerol and taraxerone while seeds contain cinnamaic acid and an anthoxanthin glucose. Palmitic, Stearic, Oleic, Linoleic and Linolenic acids are said to be found from the seed oil. Leaves contain glycosides of kaempferol. Flowers furnished with a blue anthocyanin and flavonols. A lactone, aparajitin and clitorin can also be found on the leaves

The root bark contains starch, tannin and resin. The seeds contain a fixed oil, a bitter acid resin (the active principle), tannic acid, glucose (a light brown resin) and ash. The taste of the seeds is brittle and contains a cotyledon, which is full of granular starch. From leaves, clitorin and kaempferol have been isolated. A lactone-aparajitin from leaves, sitosterol from seeds, taraxerol from roots and sitosterol and anthoxanthin from seed are isolated (Ind. J. Pharm. 1968, 30, 167.) Isolation and identifi-cation of cyanine chloride and kaempferol from the flowers has been done. From seed-oil palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids are yielded. Six acylated anthocyanins A, B, C, D, E and F are isolated from blue flowers along with kaempferol and its 3- glucoside, robinin, quercetin and 3-glucoside and ternatins A and B are partially characterized

Uses : The roots are bitter, refrigerant, ophthalmic, laxative, intellect promoting, alexeteric, diuretic, strong cathartic, anthelmintic, depurative, aphrodisiac, and tonic, useful in ophthalmology, tubercular glands, amentia, hemicriana, strangury, helminthiasis, leprosy, leucoderma, bronchitis, asthma and fever, also used in poultices for swollen joints. The leaves are useful in otalgia, hepatopathy and eruptions. Seeds are cathartic, and useful in visceralgia. Powdered seeds mixed with ginger are powerful laxative.

It is grown as an ornamental plant and as a revegetation species (e.g., in coal mines in Australia). It fixes nitrogen and is therefore also used . in southeast asia the flowers are use to colour food. In Malay cooking, an aqueous extract is used to colour glutinous rice for kuih tekan (also known as pulut seri kaya) and in nonya chang. In Thailand, a syrupy blue drink is made called nam dok anchan.

Medicinal Uses:
The roots, seeds and leaves are used for medicinal purpose; Aparajita is used both, internally as well as externally. Externally, the paste of the roots, of white flowered variety, is applied in skin diseases and simultaneously, the seeds fried in ghee are powdered and given orally, with hot water. The same variety of roots is salutary in guinea worm infestation, to expel them out, by their topical application. The paste of its leaves, combined with little salt is applied in retroauricular adenitis, with great benefit. The seeds mashed with honey, applied topically, in tonsillitis render excellent relief. In migraine, the root juice instilled into nostrils helps to ward off kapha.

Internally, aparajita is used in various diseases. It works well as an appetizer, digestant, and vermicide and digests ama. The powder of its roots or seeds, combined with sunthi of fennel is recommended in ascites, with hot water. Being sharp in attribute, it breaks down the accumulations of dosas and malas. The sticky phlegm in cough and asthma is relieved, when the root juice with milk is given. It works well as febrifuge especially in gout. In glandular swellings like cervical adenitis, the root powder or juice is valuable. The decoction of its roots alleviates the burning sensation in the vagina, effectively. In habitual abortion, the roots of white varity, mashed in milk are given orally to avert the abortion and stabilize the foetus. The juice of its leaves mitigates the toxins. The fresh leaves juice, combined with ginger juice, effectively controls the excessive sweating. It is also used to promote the intellect (medhya).

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


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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Jicama ( Sankalu)

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Botanical Name:Pachyrhizus erosus Blanco

Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Fabales
Family: Fabaceae
Subfamily: Faboideae
Genus: Pachyrhizus
Species: P. erosus

Other Names:Spanish: hee-kah-mah, from Nahuatl xicamatl hee-kah-mahtl, also Mexican Potato and Mexican Turnip,is the name of a native Mexican vine, although the name most commonly refers to the plant‘s edible tuberous root. Jicama is one species in the genus Pachyrhizus that is commonly called yam bean, although the “yam bean” sometimes is another name for Jicama. The other, major species of yam beans arealso indigenous within the Americas. In India it is called Sankalu


Habitat :Jicama  is native to maxico but now it grows in  many tropical cuntries

Description:The jicama vine can reach a height of 4-5 metres given suitable support. Its root can attain lengths of up to 2 m and weigh up to 20 kilograms. The root’s exterior is yellow and papery, while its inside is creamy white with a crisp texture that resembles raw potato or pear. The flavor is sweet and starchy, reminiscent of some apples, and it is usually eaten raw, sometimes with salt, lemon, or lime juice and chili powder. It is also cooked in soups and stir-fried dishes.

Click to see the pictures…...(01)....(1)......(2).…..…(3)..…..(4).

Jicama is a tropical plant and thus requires at least 9 months of warm growing season for good sized roots to mature. However, if soil is rich, light and there is at least 4 months of warm weather available, the resulting roots will be smaller, but still quite delicious. Presoak seeds in water for about 24 hours before planting. Can be started indoors about 8 to 10 weeks before the last spring frost. Transplant into your garden as soon is weather is warm, but be careful where you plant it as the ripe pods, leaves and seeds are toxic and narcotic. Care should be taken so that no humans or animals will mistakenly eat these parts. The immature seed pods are edible as well as of course the turnip like roots for which it is grown. Can be grown near a trellis for support or like pole beans. Can also be grown on the ground but then requires a lot of space. When they grow to about 3 feet tall, pinch the tips to promote horizontal branches. Tubers form as the days grow shorter and should be harvested before the first frost. If you allow the plants to go to seed, the root lobes will be small. Blossoms appear in late summer, but can be pinched out for maximum root growth.

Due to its growing popularity, cultivation of jícama has recently spread from Mexico to other parts of Central America, China and Southeast Asia where notable uses of raw jícama include popiah and salads such as yusheng and rojak. Jícama has become popular in Vietnamese food,  In Mexico it is very popular in salads, fresh fruit combos, fruit bars, soups, and other cooked dishes.

Edible Uses:

Standard Uses: This is an unusual vegetable that is becoming increasingly popular with American cooks, but has been grown in its native Mexico for centuries. More and more U.S. supermarkets are now carrying this turnip shaped, usually four lobed root. Its skin is a brownish gray, but its flesh is white and crisp. It’s flavor resembles that of water chestnuts but is sweeter. Makes a great appetizer and is a very good addition in both taste and texture when added to salads.

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While many vegetables and fruits are common, others are not, but that doesn’t mean they’re not an excellent food – just unfamiliar. For one thing, jicama plants thrive in tropical regions.

Like other foods, jicama contains real culinary goodness: sliced and baked, julienned in salad, chopped in stir-fries and soups, and mixed with other veggies and fruits to emphasize its sweetness or starchy texture. Just remember to eat only the root, since the other parts may be toxic.

So if you haven’t experienced jicama in your dining repertoire, you have everything to gain – and if you’re actually hoping to lose, this might be your new favorite.

You may click to see:->Expanding Your Pantry: Jicama

Jicama : Kitchen & Cooking Tips

Health benefits, and the common uses for Jicama in cooking.

Medicinal Uses: .

Low in calories but high in a few vital nutrients, jicama is a bit of a contradiction when it comes to its starch content. It provides one-quarter of what’s needed daily in fiber per serving. But not just any fiber – jicama’s fiber is infused with oligofructose inulin, which has zero calories and doesn’t metabolize in the body. Inulin, a fructan, promotes bone health by enhancing absorption of calcium from other foods, protecting against osteoporosis. Inulin has a prebiotic role in the intestine – it promotes “good” bacteria growth that maintains both a healthy colon and balanced immunity. Because it has a very low glycemic index, jicama is a great food for diabetics, and low in calories for those interested in weight reduction.

Jicama is also an excellent source of fiber and vitamin C – 44% of the daily value per serving – and a powerful antioxidant that zaps free radicals to protect against cancer, inflammation, viral cough, cold, and infections.

Jicama is starchy. The most interesting health benefit related to jicama is the inulin, which studies have shown can protect against osteoarthritis, and have a positive impact on colorectal cancer, especially when eaten during its early stages. Studies are increasing on this root veggie that has until recently been quite overlooked.

Besides healthy amounts of potassium, this little powerhouse can help promote heart health, since high-potassium vegetables and fruit are linked to lower risks of heart disease. Jicama contains important vitamins like folates, riboflavin, pyridoxine, pantothenic acid, and thiamin, and the minerals magnesium, copper, iron, and manganese. Like potatoes, they should be used sparingly due to the high carbohydrates content.

Other Uses:

Jicama is a vine plant that makes an attractive ornament, deserving a place in your flower garden. It blooms profusely with white to lavender colored flowers that resemble sweet peas. Its leaves are heart shaped and & see

Studies on Jicama:

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2005 showed that foods containing inulin, such as jicama, lower colon cancer risks in several ways, which include reducing exposure as well as the toxic impact of carcinogens in the gut, and inhibiting the growth and spread of colon cancer to other areas of the body. Scientists concluded that inulin-type fructans may reduce colorectal cancer incidence when given during early stages of cancer development.

Jícama is high in carbohydrates in the form of dietary fiber. It is composed of 86-90% water; it contains only trace amounts of protein and lipids. Its sweet flavour comes from the oligofructose inulin (also called fructo-oligosaccharide).


Known Hazards:The leaves, ripe seed pods and seeds are toxic and narcotic  .  In contrast to the root, the remainder of the jícama plant is very poisonous; the seeds contain the toxin rotenone, which is used to poison insects and fish.

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.



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