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Herbs & Plants

Phaceolus vulgaris

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Botanical Name: Phaceolus vulgaris
Family:    Fabaceae
Subfamily:Faboideae
Tribe:    Phaseoleae
Subtribe:    Phaseolinae
Genus:    Phaseolus
Species:    P. vulgaris
Kingdom:    Plantae
Order:    Fabales

Common Names:Common bean,Kidney bean, String bean, Field bean, Flageolet bean, French bean, Garden bean, Haricot bean, Pop bean, or Snap bean

Habitat:Phaceolus vulgaris is  native of Indies; cultivated all over Europe; also said to be found in ancient tombs in Peru.

Description:
Phaceolus vulgaris is a herbaceous annual plant grown worldwide for its edible dry seed or unripe fruit that are both known as “beans”. The common bean is a highly variable species with a long history. Bush varieties form erect bushes 20–60 cm (8–20 in) tall, while pole or running varieties form vines 2–3 m (7–10 ft) long. All varieties bear alternate, green or purple leaves, which are divided into three oval, smooth-edged leaflets, each 6–15 cm (2–6 in) long and 3–11 cm (1–4 in) wide. The white, pink, or purple flowers are about 1 cm long, and they give way to pods 8–20 cm (3–8 in) long and 1–1.5 cm wide. These may be green, yellow, black, or purple in color, each containing 4–6 beans. The beans are smooth, plump, kidney-shaped, up to 1.5 cm long, range widely in color, and are often mottled in two or more colors. The wild P. vulgaris was native to the Americas and was domesticated separately in Mesoamerica and in the southern Andes region, giving the domesticated bean two gene pools which remain separate to this day.  Along with squash and maize (corn), beans are one of the “Three Sisters” central to indigenous North American agriculture…...CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Edible Uses:
Dry beans:
Similar to other beans, the common bean is high in starch, protein, and dietary fiber, and is an excellent source of iron, potassium, selenium, molybdenum, thiamine, vitamin B6, and folate.

Dry beans will keep indefinitely if stored in a cool, dry place, but as time passes, their nutritive value and flavor degrade and cooking times lengthen. Dried beans are almost always cooked by boiling, often after being soaked in water for several hours. While the soaking is not strictly necessary, it shortens cooking time and results in more evenly textured beans. In addition, soaking beans removes 5 to 10% of the gas-producing sugars that can cause flatulence for some people. The methods include simple overnight soaking and the power soak method in which beans are boiled for three minutes and then set aside for 2–4 hours. Before cooking, the soaking water is drained off and discarded. Dry common beans take longer to cook than most pulses: cooking times vary from one to four hours, but are substantially reduced with pressure cooking.

In Mexico, Central America, and South America, the traditional spice used with beans is epazote, which is also said to aid digestion. In East Asia, a type of seaweed, kombu, is added to beans as they cook for the same purpose. Salt, sugar, and acidic foods such as tomatoes may harden uncooked beans, resulting in seasoned beans at the expense of slightly longer cooking times.

Dry beans may also be bought cooked and canned as refried beans, or whole with water, salt, and sometimes sugar.

Its leaf is also occasionally used as a vegetable and the straw as fodder. Its botanical classification, along with other Phaseolus species, is as a member of the legume family Fabaceae, most of whose members acquire the nitrogen they require through an association with rhizobia, a species of nitrogen-fixing bacteria.

The common bean is a highly variable species that has a long history of cultivation. All wild members of the species have a climbing habit, but many cultivars are classified as “bush beans” or “pole beans”, depending on their style of growth. These include the kidney bean, the navy bean, the pinto bean, and the wax bean. The other major types of commercially grown bean are the runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and the broad bean (Vicia faba).

Beans are grown in every continent except Antarctica. Brazil and India are the largest producers of dry beans, while China produces, by far, the largest quantity of green beans. Worldwide, 23 million tonnes of dry common beans and 17.1 million tonnes of green beans were grown in 2010.

Cultivation:     
Requires a warm sunny position in a rich well-drained preferably light soil with plenty of moisture in the growing season[27, 37, 200]. Dislikes heavy, wet or acid soils[16, 37]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 to 6.5[200]. The French bean is commonly cultivated in the temperate and subtropical zones and in montane valleys of the tropics for its edible mature seeds and immature seedpods. It is often grown to provide a major part of the protein requirement[183, 269]. A very variable plant, there are more than 1,000 named varieties ranging from dwarf forms about 30cm tall to climbing forms up to 3 metres tall[183, 186, 200, 269]. Plants are not frost-tolerant, air temperatures below 10°c can cause damage to seedlings[200]. When grown for their edible pods, the immature pods should be harvested regularly in order to promote extra flower production and therefore higher yields[200]. Yields of green pods averages about 3kg per square metre, though double this can be achieved[200]. French beans grow well with strawberries, carrots, cauliflowers, cucumbers, cabbage, beet, leek and celeriac[18, 20]. They are inhibited by alliums and fennel growing nearby[18, 20]. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby[200]. When removing plant remains at the end of the growing season, it is best to only remove the aerial parts of the plant, leaving the roots in the ground to decay and release their nitrogen.

Propagation:  
Pre-soak the seed for 12 hours in warm water and sow in mid spring in a greenhouse. Germination should take place within 10 days. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out after the last expected frosts. The seed can also be sown in situ in late spring though it may not ripen its seed in a cool summe

Constituents:  Starch and starchy fibrous matter, phaseoline, extractive albumen mucilage, pectic acid, legumin fatty matter, earthy salts, uncrystallizable sugar, inosite, sulphur

Medicinal  Uses:
Cancer;  Diuretic;  Homeopathy;  Hypoglycaemic;  Hypotensive;  Miscellany;  Narcotic.

The green pods are mildly diuretic and contain a substance that reduces the blood sugar level. The dried mature pod is used according to another report. It is used in the treatment of diabetes. The seed is diuretic, hypoglycaemic and hypotensive. Ground into a flour, it is used externally in the treatment of ulcers. The seed is also used in the treatment of cancer of the blood. When bruised and boiled with garlic they have cured intractable coughs. The root is dangerously narcotic. A homeopathic remedy is made from the entire fresh herb. It is used in the treatment of rheumatism and arthritis, plus disorders of the urinary tract.

When bruised and boiled with garlic Beans have cured otherwise uncurable coughs. If eaten raw they cause painful severe frontal headache, soreness and itching of the eyeball and pains in the epigastrium. The roots are dangerously narcotic.

Other Uses:
Biomass;  Dye;  Fungicide;  Miscellany.

A brown dye is obtained from red kidney beans. The plant contains phaseolin, which has fungicidal activity. Water from the cooked beans is very effective in reviving woollen fabrics. The plant residue remaining after harvesting the dried beans is a source of biomass.

Bean leaves have been used to trap bedbugs in houses. Microscopic hairs (trichomes) on the bean leaves entrap the insects. From ancient times, beans were used as device in various methods of divination. Fortune-telling using beans is called favomancy.

Known Hazards:     Large quantities of the raw mature seed are poisonous. Children eating just a few seeds have shown mild forms of poisoning with nausea and diarrhoea, though complete recovery took place in 12 – 24 hours. The toxins play a role in protecting the plant from insect predation.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phaseolus_vulgaris
http://www.pfaf.org/user/plant.aspx?LatinName=Phaseolus+vulgaris
http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/beakid21.html

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Herbs & Plants Herbs & Plants (Spices)

Cuminum cyminum (Jeera)

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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

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Herbs & Plants

Hoja Santa

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Mexican Pepperleaf (Piper auritum Kunth)
Plant family: Piperaceae (pepper family)

Hoja santa (Piper auritum, synonymous with Piper sanctum) is an aromatic herb with a heart-shaped, velvety leaf which grows in tropic Mesoamerica. The name hoja santa means “sacred leaf” in Spanish.A Mexican legend says that Virgin Mary dried diapers of the infant Jesus on the bush of this plant, hence the name. It is also known as yerba santa, hierba santa, Mexican pepperleaf, root beer plant, and sacred pepper.

The hoja santa (sacred leaf), hoja de la estrella (leaf of the star), or Veracruz pepper (Piper auritum Kunth) has a native range from southern Mexico into northern South America. It is a successional plant found in moist forests where gaps in the canopy allow some sunlight to the forest floor. Although it is considered a shade-loving plant, hoja santa will not tolerate deep shade.

Origin:
Tropic Mesoamerica (Southern México, Guatemala, Panamá, Northern Colombia).

Plant Description:
Hoja santa has a knobby herbaceous stem and grows up to six meters in height supporting itself with prop roots near the base of the stem. The large leaves arise alternately along the stem. Hoja santa blooms with a myriad of tiny reduced flowers arranged along a thin arching spike.The leaves can reach up to 30 centimeter (12 in) or more in size. The complex flavor of hoja santa is not so easily described; it has been compared to eucalyptus, licorice, sassafras, anise,nutmeg, mint, tarragon, and black pepper. The flavor is stronger in the young stems and veins The flowers consist of a pistil with a fringed stigma, two anthers, and a small peltate (umbrella-shaped) bract. The flowers are followed by a single-seeded fruit, a drupe. The seeds are dispersed by frugivorous (fruit-eating) bats.

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Sensory quality:
Aromatic and pleasant, loosely reminiscent to anise, nutmeg and black pepper. The flavour is strongest in the young stems and veins, which have additionally a pleasant warming pungency.

Main constituents:
The essential oil from the leaves (0.2%) is rich in safrole (up to 80%), a substance with pleasant odour. Furthermore, a large number of mono- and sesquiterpenoids have been found

Uses:
A heart-shaped, dinner plate-sized leaf is making its way onto restaurant tables in downtown Washington.

It is often used in Mexican cuisine for tamales, the fish or meat wrapped in fragrant leaves for cooking, and as an essential ingredient in Mole Verde, the green sauce originated in the Oaxaca region of Mexico. It is also chopped to flavor soups and eggs. In Central Mexico, it is used to flavor chocolate drinks. In southeastern Mexico, a green liquor called Verdín is made from hoja santa. American cheesemaker Paula Lambert created “Hoja santa cheese”, the goat’s milk cheese wrapped with the hoja santa leaves and impregnated with its flavor. While typically used fresh, it is also used in dried form, although drying removes much of the flavor and makes the leaf too brittle to be used as a wrapper.

Like its more famous Old World cousin, black pepper (Piper nigrum), hoja santa is used as a seasoning. In this case, it is the leaves and not the ‘peppercorns’ that flavor foods. The Maya and Aztec made tamales—fish or meat wrapped in fragrant leaves for cooking. And the ancients used many types of leaves, not just corn husks around corn meal dough and seasoned meat. Many of these ancient tamal entrees persist; pescado (fish) en hoja santa is still fine dining especially near the Gulf coast in Veracruz.

The essential oils in the leaf are rich in safrole, a substance also found in sassafras, which has been shown to be carcinogenic in animals. In 1960, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned sassafras bark along with sassafras oil and safrole as flavoring agents because of their carcinogenic properties and the Council of Europe imposed the same ban in 1974, so the safety of flavoring food with hoja santa remains questionable.

References:
http://www.killerplants.com/plant-of-the-week/20041213.asp
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoja_santa
http://www.uni-graz.at/~katzer/engl/Pipe_aur.html

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