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Herbs & Plants

Allium przewalskianum

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Botanical Name: Allium przewalskianum
Family:    Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily:Allioideae
Genus:    Allium
Species:A. przewalskianum
Kingdom:Plantae
Clade:    Angiosperms
Clade:    Monocots
Order:    Asparagales

Synonyms:
*Allium jacquemontii Regel
*Allium jacquemontii var. parviflorum (Ledeb.) Aswal
*Allium junceum Jacquem. ex Baker
*Allium przewalskianum var. planifolium Regel
*Allium rubellum var. parviflorum Ledeb.
*Allium stenophyllum Wall.
*Allium stoliczkii Regel

jimbuCommon Names: Jimbu

Habitat :  Allium przewalskianum  is widely distributed, reported from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tibet, and parts of China(Gansu, Nei Mongol, Ningxia, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Sichuan, Xinjiang, Xizang, Yunnan)

Description:
Allium przewalskianum has narrow bulbs up to 10 mm across. Scape is up to 40 cm tall, round in cross-section. Leaves are tubular, about the same length as the scape. Umbel is densely crowded with many red or dark purple flowers.
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It is hardy to zone (UK) 8 and is not frost tender. It is in flower from Jul to September, and the seeds ripen from Aug to September. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees, insects.

Cultivation:  
Prefers a sunny position in a light well-drained soil. This species is only hardy in the milder areas of Britain, it probably tolerates temperatures down to between -5 and -10°c. The bulbs should be planted fairly deeply. Most members of this genus are intolerant of competition from other growing plants. Grows well with most plants, especially roses, carrots, beet and chamomile, but it inhibits the growth of legumes. This plant is a bad companion for alfalfa, each species negatively affecting the other. Members of this genus are rarely if ever troubled by browsing deer.

Propagation: 
Seed – sow spring in a cold frame. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle – if you want to produce clumps more quickly then put three plants in each pot. Grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter and plant them out into their permanent positions in spring once they are growing vigorously and are large enough. Division in spring. Very easy, the plants divide successfully at any time in the growing season and the divisions can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:The herb  Allium przewalskianum  has a taste in between onion and chives, is most commonly used dried. In Mustang it is used to flavor vegetables, pickles, meat. In the rest of Nepal it is most commonly used to flavor urad dal or lentils. The dried leaves are fried in ghee to develop their flavor.

Bulb – raw or cooked. A very pleasant onion flavour[K], though rather on the small size and scarcely exceeding 10mm in diameter. Harvested in the autumn, they will store for at least 6 month. Leaves – raw or cooked. Tender and delicious. The leaves are rather on the small and thin side, but have an excellent onion favour[K]. They make a nice refreshing munch when working in the garden and also go very well in salads. They can be harvested from spring until the autumn. Flowers – raw. A pleasant onion flavour, they are used as a garnish on salads.

Medicinal Uses:

It is estimated that in Asiatic households use jimbu as medicine (mostly as a treatment believed to help flu).Although no specific mention of medicinal uses has been seen for this species, members of this genus are in general very healthy additions to the diet. They contain sulphur compounds (which give them their onion flavour) and when added to the diet on a regular basis they help reduce blood cholesterol levels, act as a tonic to the digestive system and also tonify the circulatory system.

Other Uses: The juice of the plant is used as a moth repellent. The whole plant is said to repel insects and moles.

Known Hazards:Although no individual reports regarding this species have been seen, there have been cases of poisoning caused by the consumption, in large quantities and by some mammals, of certain members of this genus. Dogs seem to be particularly susceptible.

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.

Resourcs:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_przewalskianum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimbu
http://www.amazon.com/Spice-Republic-Jimbu-Himalayan/dp/B006JUSA0M
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Allium+przewalskianum

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News on Health & Science

Fungus of Fortune

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Tibetan nomads have found easy money in the form of the caterpillar fungus that promises to treat everything from impotence to ageing.

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Cordyceps sinensis (top) feeds on caterpillar larvae

Lhamotso never learned to read and write, and she has few marketable skills other than the ability to milk a yak.

Yet she can earn up to $1,000 a week, an unimaginable fortune for a Tibetan nomad. She has bought herself a shiny new Honda motorcycle. She and her husband gave up their tent for a house they built with solar panels, a satellite dish and television.

The worm, Lhamotso explains, “has changed our lives”.

What Tibetans call the worm is actually not a worm but a fungus — Cordyceps sinensis — that feeds on caterpillar larvae. It has a more poetic name, “winter worm, summer grass,” because its appearance changes from one to the other with the seasons. It is a prized ingredient in traditional medicines, with prices in the past few years skyrocketing such that prime specimens are worth their weight in gold, literally, about $900 an ounce.

Because the caterpillar fungus is indigenous only to the 1,600-km-long Tibetan plateau running from western China to Nepal, the money has hastened the nomads’ lurching transition into modernity.

“It is a bit like a gold rush in the Wild West. It has brought enormous wealth to these communities,” says Andrew Fischer, an economist at the London School of Economics specialising in Tibet.

For centuries, Tibetan nomads added caterpillar fungus to soups or tea, believing it boosted stamina, endurance, lung capacity, kidney function and, of course, sexual performance. Its use for medicinal purposes was documented back in the 14th century. Until recently, the fungus was cheap and abundant and the Tibetans would feed it to yaks and horses too when their energy was flagging.

The fungus’ popularity took off after the 1993 World Championships in Athletics, when Chinese female athletes broke records in nine track and field events and their coach gave partial credit to an elixir containing the fungus.

Then came the 2003 epidemic of the sudden acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), setting Asian consumers off on a frenzy of buying anything that might boost immunity.

Last year China exported $43 million worth of caterpillar fungus, touted as a treatment for everything from impotence to ageing.

The centre of the caterpillar fungus trade is in Qinghai province. Here, the bu — Tibetan for worm — is by far the largest source of cash and dictates the pace of daily life. During the peak fungus-hunting season, schools close to allow children to help. People with jobs shirk work to prospect for riches.

The season runs for about 40 days, beginning in early spring when the mountains are brown and spongy as though covered with a dirty shag carpet. Timing is crucial. If you dig too early, you get a live, wriggling caterpillar. It’s best to dig just after the fungus has killed the larvae.

The best caterpillar fungus is found at higher elevations, such as Heitushan, the 4,267m Black Earth Mountain in Golog, Qinghai province, where Lhamotso lives.

The climb is steep. Lhamotso counts herself lucky to have the motorcycle. She and her daughters, 10 and 16, pile on and zigzag uphill until the terrain gets too rough and they must walk.

Children are useful on the hunt because their sharp eyes allow them to pick the fungus — sort of a little yellow root with a stalk — growing out of the top out of the clumps of grass and sodden earth.

“It is very boring work,” complains Hiriti, Lhamotso’s younger daughter. Reaching into the pocket of her faux leather jacket, the girl pulls out a tissue and unwraps an 8-cm-long twig, the only piece she found all day. She will sell it for about $3.

“I think people must be insane to pay so much,” Lhamotso says. “It’s only in the last two years that it has gotten so expensive. It’s crazy, but it is good for us. How else would I make so much money? I can’t read or write.”

Lhamotso expects to make at least $6,000 this season — about triple what most Chinese families earn in a year.

Lhamotso is well aware that the fungus might not be a reliable source of income for much longer. It’s growing scarcer from over-harvesting and changes in the fragile ecosystem of the Tibetan plateau.

“When I was young, somebody could walk out of the tent and dig 800 to 900 pieces in a day. Now we have to hike three hours up the mountain and the best we do is maybe 50 pieces,” says Tsering, one of Lhamotso’s companions.

“It is expensive because it is rare, and it is rare because it is over-exploited,” says Lin Zhibin, a pharmacology expert at the Peking University Health Science Centre.

Another concern is that relentless digging on the mountains is contributing to soil erosion and desertification. Although the caterpillar fungus has given the nomads a financial boost, Tibetan intellectuals remain ambivalent about its benefits to society as a whole.

The real problem is that Tibetans themselves have become used to the easy money and the creature comforts it buys.

“People can’t go backwards. For years, it’s been like digging up gold, only more valuable,” says Daodu, 31, a teacher. “People today can’t survive without it.”

Sources:Los Angles Times

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