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Crataegus altaica

Botanical Name : Crataegus altaica
Family: Rosaceae
Genus: Crataegus
Section: Sanguineae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Rosales

Synonym: Crataegus purpurea altaica. Crataegus wattiana. Crataegus altaica var. villosa is considered to be a synonym of Crataegus maximowiczii.

Common Names: Altai Mountain Thorn
Habitat :Crataegus altaica is native to W. Asia – Altai Mountains. It grows on slopes, forest understories, stream sides; 400–1900 m. C and N Xinjiang [Russia (SE European part, Siberia)]
Description:

Crataegus altaica is a midium sized deciduous tree 3–6 m tall, unarmed, rarely with few 2–4 cm thorns. Branchlets purplish brown or reddish brown when young, grayish brown when old, terete, stout, glabrous; buds purplish brown, suborbicular, glabrous, apex acute. Stipules falcate or cordate, ca. 1 cm, herbaceous, glabrous, margin glandular serrate, apex acute; petiole 2–3.4 cm, glabrous; leaf blade broadly ovate or triangular-ovate, 5–9 × 4–7 cm, veins conspicuous, lateral veins extending to apices of lobes, abaxially barbate in vein axils, adaxially sparsely pubescent, base truncate or broadly cuneate, rarely subcordate, margin irregularly and sharply serrate, usually with 2–4 pairs of lobes, often parted near base, apex acute or obtuse. Compound corymb 3–4 cm in diam., many flowered; peduncle glabrous; bracts caducous, lanceolate, membranous. Pedicel 5–7 mm, glabrous. Flowers 1.2–1.5 cm in diam. Hypanthium campanulate, abaxially glabrous. Sepals triangular-ovate, or triangular-lanceolate, 2–4 mm, both surfaces glabrous, apex caudate-acuminate. Petals white, suborbicular, ca. 5 mm in diam. Stamens 20. Ovary sparsely pubescent apically, 4- or 5-loculed, with 2 ovules per locule; styles 4 or 5. Pome yellow, subglobose, 8–10 mm in diam., glabrous; sepals persistent, reflexed; pyrenes 4 or 5, with concave scars on both inner sides. flower blooms: May–Jun, fruit matures : Aug–Sep.

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It is not frost tender. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Midges.Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and can grow in heavy clay soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist or wet soil and can tolerate drought. The plant can tolerates strong winds but not maritime exposure.
It can tolerate atmospheric pollution.
Cultivation:
A very easily grown plant, it prefers a well-drained moisture retentive loamy soil but is not at all fussy. Once established, it succeeds in excessively moist soils and also tolerates drought. It grows well on a chalk soil and also in heavy clay soils. A position in full sun is best when plants are being grown for their fruit, they also succeed in semi-shade though fruit yields and quality will be lower in such a position. Most members of this genus succeed in exposed positions, they also tolerate atmospheric pollution. Seedling trees take from 5 – 8 years before they start bearing fruit, though grafted trees will often flower heavily in their third year. The flowers have a foetid smell somewhat like decaying fish. This attracts midges which are the main means of fertilization. When freshly open, the flowers have more pleasant scent with balsamic undertones. This species is closely related to C. wattiana. Hawthorns in general hybridize freely with other members of the genus. Seedlings should not be left in a seedbed for more than 2 years without being transplanted.
Propagation:
Seed – this is best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a cold frame, some of the seed will germinate in the spring, though most will probably take another year. Stored seed can be very slow and erratic to germinate, it should be warm stratified for 3 months at 15°c and then cold stratified for another 3 months at 4°c. It may still take another 18 months to germinate. Scarifying the seed before stratifying it might reduce this time. Fermenting the seed for a few days in its own pulp may also speed up the germination process. Another possibility is to harvest the seed ‘green’ (as soon as the embryo has fully developed but before the seedcoat hardens) and sow it immediately in a cold frame. If timed well, it can germinate in the spring. If you are only growing small quantities of plants, it is best to pot up the seedlings as soon as they are large enough to handle and grow them on in individual pots for their first year, planting them out in late spring into nursery beds or their final positions. When growing larger quantities, it might be best to sow them directly outdoors in a seedbed, but with protection from mice and other seed-eating creatures. Grow them on in the seedbed until large enough to plant out, but undercut the roots if they are to be left undisturbed for more than two years.
Edible Uses:
Fruit – raw or cooked. About 8mm in diameter, the fruit is yellow with a fairly dry mealy texture and a pleasantly sweet flesh. The fruit can also be used in making pies, preserves, etc, and can also be dried for later use. The fruit ripens in August, making it one of the earliest ripening hawthorns. There are up to five fairly large seeds in the centre of the fruit, these often stick together and so the effect is of eating a cherry-like fruit with a single seed.
Medicinal Uses:
Although no specific mention has been seen for this species, the fruits and flowers of many hawthorns are well-known in herbal folk medicine as a heart tonic and modern research has borne out this use. The fruits and flowers have a hypotensive effect as well as acting as a direct and mild heart tonic. They are especially indicated in the treatment of weak heart combined with high blood pressure. Prolonged use is necessary for it to be efficacious. It is normally used either as a tea or a tincture.

Other Uses: Wood – heavy, hard, tough, close-grained. Useful for making tool handles, mallets and other small items.

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.

Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crataegus_altaica
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Crataegus+altaica
http://www.efloras.org/florataxon.aspx?flora_id=2&taxon_id=200010796

How safe is Nonstick Cookware

When heated, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces emits fumes that can kill birds and potentially sicken people.

Recent research says that it is unsafe to cook children food in nonstick cookware as their  blood cholostrole level becomes very high when they eat food cooked in nonstick cookware.(Source :Elements4Health)

Between 1999 and 2003 there were a lot of news reports about studies showing that the chemicals known as PFO’s, PFOA’s and PFC’s were being released from cookware and getting into people’s bodies. Many groups came out with warnings suggesting that non-stick cookware be replaced by regular stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans. people  have known about this warning for quite some time, but even then   cookware coated with the chemical commonly known as Teflon is still the vast majority of cookware in use today. The chemical coatings are inexpensive so non-stick cookware is less costly than stainless steel. There are  Non-stick cookware safety tips to cook in them but most of us donot follow them at the time of cooking. The non-stick properties of Teflon make cooking some types of food so much easier that it is unlikely that most people will ever go back to using traditional pots and pans considering their future family health risk.

Taflon structure

Statistics reported by the Cookware Manufacturers Association indicate that 90 percent of all the aluminum cookware sold in the United States in 2001 was coated with non-stick chemicals like Teflon (Cooks Illustrated, September 2002). Chemicals and tiny, toxic Teflon particles released from heated Teflon kill household pet birds. At least four of these chemicals never break down in the environment, and some are widely found in human blood. Consumers concerned about the effects of Teflon on human health and the environment should consider these alternatives:

Stainless Steel….
Stainless steel is a terrific alternative to a non-stick cooking surface. Most chefs agree that stainless steel browns foods better than non-stick surfaces. In their 2001 review of sauté pans, Cooks Illustrated, an independent publication, chose a stainless steel pan over otherwise identical non-stick models. They also recommended stainless steel pan roasters over non-stick.

Cast Iron….
Cast iron remains a great alternative to non-stick cooking surfaces. Lodge, America’s oldest family-owned cookware manufacturer, refers to their cookware as “natural non-stick.” Cast iron can be pre-heated to temperatures that will brown meat and will withstand oven temperatures well above what is considered safe for non-stick pans. Cast iron is extremely durable and can now be purchased pre-seasoned, ready-to-use.

Other Cooking Surfaces….
Because Teflon coated non-stick surfaces fail to brown foods there has been a push to find other “non-stick” cookware coating that will allow the use of higher temperatures and still clean up easily. Some examples include ceramic titanium and porcelain enameled cast iron. Both of these surfaces are very durable, better at browning foods than PTFE (Teflon) non-stick coatings, and are dishwasher safe. In her New York Times piece, “In Search of a Pan That Lets Cooks Forget About Teflon,” Marian Burros recommends Le Creuset enameled cast iron pans with a matte black interior. Anodized aluminum is another alternative, but some people question its safety, citing evidence in some studies linking aluminum exposures to Alzheimers.

Click to see :Hidden Dangers in the Kitchen

For more knowledge you may click to see how harmful nonstick  cookware is

Resources:
http://willtaft.com/health/i-do-not-use-teflon-cookware/
http://www.ewg.org/alternative-cookware

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Logan

Botanical Name:Arillis Euphoriae Longanae/Dimocarpus longan
Family:Sapindaceae
Pinyin Mandarin Name:Long Yan Rou
Common English Name:Longan Fruit
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales
Genus: Dimocarpus
Species: D. longan
Parts Used:Fruit

Habitat:It is a tropical tree native to southern China. It is also found in Southeast Asia. It is also called guiyuan  in Chinese, lengkeng in Indonesia, mata kucing (literally “cat’s eye”) in Malaysia, nhãn in Vietnamese (The Species: Euphoria longana Lamk. named “long nhãn” in Vietnamese- literally “dragon’s eyes”), Mora in Sinhalese (Sri Lanka) and also “longan” in Tagalog.

Origin and Distribution
The longan is native to southern China, in the provinces of Kwangtung, Kwangsi, Schezwan and Fukien, between elevations of 500 and 1,500 ft (150-450 m). Groff wrote: “The lungan, not so highly prized as the lychee, is nevertheless usually found contiguous to it …. It thrives much better on higher ground than the lychee and endures more frost. It is rarely found growing along the dykes of streams as is the lychee but does especially well on high ground near ponds …. The lungan is more seldom grown under orchard conditions than is the lychee. There is not so large a demand for the fruit and the trees therefore more scattered although one often finds attractive groups of lungan.” Groff says that the longan was introduced into India in 1798 but, in Indian literature, it is averred that the longan is native not only to China but also to southwestern India and the forests of upper Assam and the Garo hills, and is cultivated in Bengal and elsewhere as an ornamental and shade tree. It is commonly grown in former Indochina (Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam and in Taiwan). The tree grows but does not fruit in Malaya and the Philippines. There are many of the trees in Reúnion and Mauritius.

The longan was introduced into Florida from southern China by the United States Department of Agriculture in 1903 and has flourished in a few locations but never became popular. There was a young tree growing at the Agricultural Station in Bermuda in 1913. A tree planted at the Federal Experiment Station in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, was 10 ft (3 m) high in 1926, 23 ft (7 m) in 1929. A longan tree flourished in the Atkins Garden in Cuba and seedlings were distributed but found to fruit irregularly and came to be valued mostly for their shade and ornamental quality. In Hawaii, the longan was found to grow faster and more vigorously than the lychee but the fruit is regarded there as less flavorful than the lychee

Description:

The longan tree is handsome, erect, to 30 or 40 ft (9-12 m) in height and to 45 ft (14 m) in width, with rough-barked trunk to 2 1/2 ft (76.2 cm) thick and long, spreading, slightly drooping, heavily foliaged branches. The evergreen, alternate, paripinnate leaves have 4 to 10 opposite leaflets, elliptic, ovate-oblong or lanceolate, blunt-tipped; 4 to 8 in (10-20 cm) long and 1 3/8 to 2 in (3.5-5 cm) wide; leathery, wavy, glossy-green on the upper surface, minutely hairy and grayish-green beneath. New growth is wine-colored and showy. The pale-yellow, 5- to 6-petalled, hairy-stalked flowers, larger than those of the lychee, are borne in upright terminal panicles, male and female mingled. The fruits, in drooping clusters, are globose, 1/2 to 1 in (1.25-2.5 cm) in diameter, with thin, brittle, yellow-brown to light reddish-brown rind, more or less rough (pebbled), the protuberances much less prominent than those of the lychee. The flesh (aril) is mucilaginous, whitish, translucent, somewhat musky, sweet, but not as sweet as that of the lychee and with less “bouquet”. The seed is round, jet-black, shining, with a circular white spot at the base, giving it the aspect of an eye.

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The plant is very sensitive to frost. Longan trees require sandy soil and temperatures that do not typically go below 4.5 degrees Celsius (40 degrees Fahrenheit). Longans and lychees bear fruit at around the same time of the year.
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The longan (“dragon eyes”) is so named because of the fruit’s resemblance to an eyeball when it is shelled (the black seed shows through the translucent flesh like a pupil/iris). The seed is small, round and hard.Nature of fruit is warm and taste sweet.

Varieties:
It seems that the type of longan originally brought to the New World was not one of the best, having aroused so little interest in the fruit. Groff stated that the leading variety of Fukien was the round-fruited ‘Shih hsía’, the “Stone Gorge Lungan” from P’ing Chou. There were 2 types, one, ‘Hei ho shih hsia’, black-seeded, and ‘Chin ch’ i ho shih hsia’, brown-seeded. This variety did not excel in size but the flesh was crisp, sweeter than in other varieties, the seed small and the dried flesh, after soaking in water, was restored almost to fresh condition.

None of the other 4 varieties described by Groff has any great merit.

‘Wu Yuan’ (“black ball”) has small, sour fruit used for canning. The tree is vigorous and seedlings are valued as rootstocks. ‘Kao Yuan’ is believed to be a slightly better type of this variety and is widely canned.

‘Tsao ho’ (‘Early Rice’) is the earliest variety and a form called ‘Ch’i chin tsao ho’ precedes it by 2 weeks. In quality, both are inferior to ‘Wu Yuan’.

‘She p’ i’ (‘Snake skin’) has the largest fruit, as big as a small lychee and slightly elongated. The skin is rough, the seed large, some of the juice is between the rind and the flesh, and the quality is low. Its only advantage is that it is very late in season.

‘Hua Kioh’ (‘Flower Skin’), slightly elongated, has thin, nearly tasteless flesh, some of the juice is between the rind and the flesh, and the overall quality is poor. It is seldom propagated vegetatively.

There are no “chicken- tongue” (aborted seed) varieties in China.

There are 2 improved cultivars grown extensively in Taiwan–’Fukien Lungan’ (‘Fukugan’) was introduced from Fukien Province in mainland China. The other, very similar and possibly a mutant of ‘Fukien’, is ‘Lungan Late’, which matures a month later than ‘Fukien’.

To express longan fruit, there is a Vietnamese riddle: Da cóc mà boc bot loc, bot loc mà boc hòn than (literally: Toad’s skin covers tapioca wheat, tapioca wheat covers coal ball): toad’s skin is the ugly skin, tapioca wheat is the clear white flesh and coal ball is the black seed.

Culinary uses:
The fruit is edible, and is often used in East Asian soups, snacks, desserts, and sweet-and-sour foods, either fresh or dried, sometimes canned with syrup in supermarkets. The seeds of fresh longan can be boiled and eaten, with a distinctive nutty flavor.
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Dried longan (Chinese:  pinyin: yuánròu; literally “round meat”) are often used in Chinese cuisine and Chinese sweet dessert soups. In Chinese food therapy and herbal medicine, it is believed to have an effect on relaxation. In contrast with the fresh fruit, which is juicy and white, the flesh of dried longans is dark brown to almost black. In Chinese medicine the longan, much like the lychee, is considered a “warm” fruit.

Other Uses:
Seeds and rind: The seeds, because of their saponin content, are used like soapberries (Sapindus saponaria L.) for shampooing the hair. The seeds and the rind are burned for fuel and are part of the payment of the Chinese women who attend to the drying operation.

Wood: While the tree is not often cut for timber, the wood is used for posts, agricultural implements, furniture and construction. The heartwood is red, hard, and takes a fine polish. It is not highly valued for fuel.

Medicinal Uses:
This herb is used in formulas to treat certain types of insomnia (TCM: due to deficient Heart or Spleen weakness), frequently caused by post-birth weakness where mother has not had sufficient time to recover.

The flesh of the fruit is administered as a stomachic, febrifuge and vermifuge, and is regarded as an antidote for poison. A decoction of the dried flesh is taken as a tonic and treatment for insomnia and neurasthenic neurosis. In both North and South Vietnam, the “eye” of the longan seed is pressed against a snakebite in the belief that it will absorb the venom.

Leaves and flowers are sold in Chinese herb markets but are not a part of ancient traditional medicine. The leaves contain quercetin and quercitrin. Burkill says that the dried flowers are exported to Malaysia for medicinal purposes. The seeds are administered to counteract heavy sweating and the pulverized kernel, which contains saponin, tannin and fat, serves as a styptic.

Traditional Uses:
Tonjfies Heart and Spleen, nourishes Blood, and calms Spirit

Common Formulas Used in :Ginseng and Longan

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.acupuncture-and-chinese-medicine.com/longan.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longan
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/longan.html

http://www.bijlmakers.com/fruits/longan.htm

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