Tag Archives: Nature

Curry Plant

Batanical Name:Helichyrsum italicum.
Family: Asteraceae.
Synonyms: Helichrysum angustifolium – (Lam.)DC.
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magnoliophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Asterales
Genus: Helichrysum
Species: H. italicum
Parts used:Dried Flower,
Habitat :  It grows on dry, rocky or sandy ground around the Mediterranean, South Europe.

Common Name : Curry plant

Description:
It is a Perennial herb.Curry Plant looks very similar to a Lavender in its leaf stage. But, as the picture to the right shows, it looks totally different in bloom. Curry Plant likes it warm and dry. It is native to Turkey and thrives on sunny slopes.The stems are woody at the base and can reach 60cm or more in height. The clusters of yellow flowers are produced in Summer, they retain their colour after picking and are used in dried flower arrangements.
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The plant is not frost tender. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower from Jul to August. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Insects

Related to the very popular dried Strawflower, Curry Plant proves once again that the useful plants in a genus don’t usually inherit the beauty genes.

While not very tasty, Curry Plant smells strongly like Curry spices. But, Curry Plant is not where Curry Seasoning comes from. Curry is actually a blend of many different herbs. The herbs used in real Curry vary from region to region.  When Curry Plant is mentioned with food, it is always used sparingly, a few leaves in a mayonnaise or a sprig tucked in a cavity of a chicken. The flavor is not Curry but is strong. It is also difficult to describe. However, trimming Curry Plant in the garden will leave you pleasantly reeking like an Indian restaurant the rest of the day.

Cultivation:
Requires a light well-drained soil in a sunny sheltered position. Intolerant of excessive moisture. Established plants are drought resistant. Plants have proved to be fairly wind tolerant in an exposed site in Cornwall. This species is not hardy in the colder areas of the country, it tolerates temperatures down to about -10°c. Plants can be pruned back to the old wood in spring in order to maintain the shape of the plant and promote lots of new growth. The whole plant smells of curry, especially after rain. The flowering stems are often dried and used as ‘everlasting flowers’. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation:
Seed – sow February/March in a greenhouse. The seed usually germinates in 2 – 3 weeks at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 5cm with a heel, June/July in a frame. Roots in 4 weeks. Good percentage.

Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.
Leaves – used as a flavouring in salads and cooked foods. They have a slight flavour of curry, though they do not impart this very well to other foods. An essential oil (from the leaves?) is used as a flavouring to enhance fruit flavours in sweets, ice cream, baked goods, soft drinks and chewing gum. A tea is made from the flower heads.

Additional Uses:
Oils in flowers appear to be useful as moisturizers according to one of the comments here and in reducing scarring as noted on A Healing Essence’s website.
The plant tolerates low water and is useful for xeriscaping.  It is also said to be deer resistant
Can be trimmed into a small hedge-like border at the edge of an herb garden.
Flowers can be dried for use in arrangements.
Propagation: methods include division, stem cuttings, and seeds.

Medicinal Uses:
The antioxidant activity of carbon dioxide extracts are under investigation. Preparations are used as anticoagulant, anasthetic, antispasmodic agents and for their antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

Essential oils distilled from flowers are used in aromatherapy. The antioxidant activity of carbon dioxide extracts are under investigation. Preparations are used as anticoagulant, anasthetic, antispasmodic agents and for their antiviral and anti-fungal properties.

The plant produces an oil from its blossoms which is used for medicinal purposes. It is anti-inflammatory, fungicidal, and astringent. It soothes burns and raw chapped skin. It is used as a fixative in perfumes, and has an intense fragrance.

It has been claimed on some gardening forums that the curry plant is as effective a cat deterrent as the “scaredy-cat” plant, Plectranthus caninus (also known as Coleus canina). This may be not so much a recommendation for Helichrysum italicum as a comment on the efficacy of Plectranthus caninus.

The Anada Apothecary has a detailed entry listing the properties and uses of the oil of the flowers.  Here the plant is also referred to as “Everlasting Oil” and is referred to as “one of the most important essential oils in aromatherapy because of its healing properties.  Of special note to me was mention of the oil in treating joint pain.  Additional aromatherapy uses can be found at Nature’s Gifts, A Healing Essence, and Lavender Notes.

A more simplified entry is provided by Rocky Mountain Oils, where 15ml of the oil costs $35.00, lists the uses and properties of helichrysum italicum as:
“This species is much less expensive. Anti-inflammatory, analgesic, antiseptic used for cuts, wounds, bruises, ulcers, herpes, rheumatism, gingivitis, pyorrhea, gastritis, sore throat, and typhoid fever. Induces menstruation, aids painful menstruation and headaches, and induces milk formation.”

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.piam.com/mms_garden/plants.html
http://www.mountainvalleygrowers.com/heltalicum.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helichrysum_italicum
http://kaleidescopeliving.wordpress.com/2008/07/19/curry-plant-helichrysum-italicum/
http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Helichrysum+italicum

A Calculus Affair

Roundworms seem to be indulging in some serious mathematical calculations in their hunt for food, find scientists.

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In their search for food, tiny roundworms — no larger than a few centimetres — appear to be engaging in a bit of senior school mathematics. A team of US-based researchers has found that two distinct cells in the brains of roundworms make up a specialised, miniature computer that guides the worm’s food-finding behaviour through functions that mimic calculus.

Biologist Shawn Lockery at the University of Oregon and his colleagues have shown how the two cells work in tandem to guide a worm towards food. The researchers believe that the computational mechanism that occurs in the roundworm’s brain is similar to what drives a person to the aroma of a meal in the making in the kitchen. Their findings appeared last week in the journal Nature.

“We’ve discovered a tiny, specialised computer inside the primitive roundworm,” said Lockery. “The computer calculates the rate of change of the strengths or concentrations of various tastes.” The analysis of the rate of change is done by a process called differentiation — a key element of calculus, a mathematical discipline typically introduced in senior school.

“The worm uses this information to find food and avoid poisons,” said Lockery, who had first predicted the existence of such a mechanism in the roundworm brain in 1999 after observing how the worms change directions based on taste and smell.

The two neurons make up the antagonistic sensory cues (ASE) system, and function just as two nostrils or two eyes. The left neuron controls an on switch, while the right neuron controls an off switch.

In their experiments, the researchers exposed the roundworms to salt and pepper. They showed that the left neuron is active when the worms move forward, and the right neuron is active when the worms begin a turn or searching motion.

The scientists reasoned that artificial activation of the left neuron ought to make the worms move straight ahead, while activation of the right neuron would make them turn to find something, or avoid something. That’s exactly what their experiments with pepper have revealed. Which way a roundworm turns will depend on which neuron has been turned on.

Researchers believe the finding could help research aimed at the treatment of people who have problems involving smell or taste. But that’s a long-term goal. For now, it’s just an insight into how even roundworms do some calculus.

Sources: The Telegraph (Kolkata, India)

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Hand In Hand With Nature

Healing Gardens
Time spent in nature’s embrace is a soothing reminder of the fact that we also are products of the natural world‘s ingenuity. We feel at home in a quiet forest and are comforted by the pounding surf of the seaside. In both the sunny meadow and the shaded waterfall’s grotto, stress and tension we have long retained melts away. Finding opportunities to reconnect with nature to enjoy its healing benefits can be difficult, however. Planting and tending a garden allows us to spend time with Mother Nature in a very personal and hands-on way. We work in tandem with nature while gardening-honoring the seasons, participating in the life cycle of various organisms, experiencing the unique biorhythms of our environments, and transcending all that divides us from the natural world. As we interact with the soil, we are free to be ourselves and reflect upon meditative topics. Fresh air invigorates us, while our visceral connection to the earth grounds us.

Though you may plant a garden to grow food or herbs, or for the pleasure of seeing fresh flowers in bloom, you will likely discover that the time you spend working in your plot feels somehow more significant than many of the seemingly more important tasks you perform each day. Whether your garden can be measured in feet or is a collection of plants in pots, tending it can be a highly spiritual experience. You, by necessity, develop a closer relationship with the soil, seeds, water, and sunlight. Nurturing just a single plant means cultivating a deeper understanding of the mechanisms that permit it to thrive. A true healing garden is simply one where you feel comfortable plunging your hands into the earth, lingering over seedlings and plants to observe their growth. And yes, even caressing and talking to plants. Creating beauty through the creative use of space, and giving yourself over to awe when you realize that you have worked hand in hand with nature to give birth to som! ething, is truly wonderful.

The partnership that is formed when you collaborate with Mother Nature through gardening is wonderful in that it provides you with so many opportunities to be outdoors. You will be reminded of not only your connection to the earth but also of your unique gifts that allow you to give back to the earth.

Source:Daily Om