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Herbs & Plants

Aralia chinensis

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Botanical Name : Aralia chinensis
Family: Araliaceae
Genus: Aralia
Species: A. chinensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Apiales

Synonyms: Aralia sinensis Hort,A. elata.

Common Names :Chinese Angelica Tree, Pumila Spirea, Chinese Astilbe

Habitat :   Aralia chinensis is native to E. Asia – China. (China, Vietnam, and Malaysia.)  It grows in forests on rich well moistened soil.

Description:
Aralia chinensis is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3.5 m (11ft 6in).It is somewhat prickly and hairy ornamental type,  having leathery twice-pinnate leaves, and panicles of creamy-white flowers, succeeded by black berries. The variegated form with an irregular silvery bordering to the leaflets is particularly handsome

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It is frost tender. It is in flower from Aug to September, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils.The plant prefers acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils..It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) or semi-shade (light woodland).It requires moist soil.

Cultivation:   
Prefers a good deep loam and a semi-shady position. Requires a sheltered position. Plants are hardier when grown in poorer soils. The young growth in spring, even on mature plants, is frost-tender and so it is best to grow the plants in a position sheltered from the early morning sun. This species is closely allied to A. elata. A very ornamental plant.

Propagation  :   
Seed – best sown as soon as ripe in a cold frame. Stored seed requires 3 – 5 months of cold stratification. Germination usually takes place within 1 – 4 months at 20°c. When large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in light shade in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Once the plants are 25cm or more tall, they can be planted out into their permanent positions, late spring or early summer being the best time to do this. Root cuttings 8cm long, December in a cold frame. Store the roots upside down in sand and pot up in March/April. High percentage. Division of suckers in late winter. Very easy, the suckers can be planted out direct into their permanent positions if required.

Edible Uses:       
Edible Parts: Leaves.

Young shoots – cooked. Used as a vegetable. Blanched and used in salads. Although no records of edibility have been seen for the seed, it is said to contain 5.8 – 17.5% protein, 4.2 – 46.3% fat and 3.7 – 5.7% ash.

Medicinal Uses:

Anodyne;  CarminativeDiuretic;  Sialagogue.

The stem and root are anodyne and carminative. It is used as a warming painkilling herb in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. The root is also considered to be useful in the treatment of diabetes and dysmenorrhoea. Some caution is advised since the bark is considered to be slightly poisonous. The stembark is diuretic and sialagogue.The plant also relieves flatulence.  It regulates body moisture and  promotes the health of the circulatory and respiratory systems.  The roots and stems are used in decoctions.  Single dose: 31-62g.  Studies in vitro showed that the water extract of herb had cytotoxical effect on esophageal cell line and tests in vivo indicated that it was effective against SAK, HepS, EAC, s180, and U14 murine tumors.

Other Uses:Birds & Wildlife; Deer Resistant; Wind-Breaks; Likes Shade;

Known Hazards :  The bark is considered to be slightly poisonous

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aralia_chinensis
http://www.pfaf.org/user/Plant.aspx?LatinName=Aralia+chinensis
http://toptropicals.com/pics/garden/m1/bel/Aralia_chinensis409.jpg
http://www.forestfarm.com/product.php?id=529
http://chestofbooks.com/gardening-horticulture/Commercial-Gardening-4/Aralia-Chinensis-Dimorphanthus-Mandschuricus.html

http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Fruits & Vegetables Herbs & Plants

Lychee

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Botanical Name :Litchi chinensis
Family: Sapindaceae
Subfamily: Sapindoideae
Genus: Litchi
Species: L. chinensis
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Sapindales

Common Names : Leechi, Litchi, Laichi, Lichu, Lizhi

Habitat :The lychee is native to low elevations of the provinces of Kwangtung and Fukien in Southern China. Cultivation spread over the years through neighboring areas of southeastern Asia and offshore islands. It reached Hawaii in 1873, and Florida in 1883, and was conveyed from Florida to California in 1897

The lychee is cultivated in China, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan, Bangladesh and northern India (in particular Bihar, which accounts for 75% of total Indian production). South Africa and the United States (Hawaii and Florida) also have commercial lychee production.

The lychee has a history of cultivation going back as far as 2000 BC according to records in China. Cultivation began in the area of southern China, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Wild trees still grow in parts of southern China and on Hainan Island. There are many stories of the fruit’s use as a delicacy in the Chinese Imperial Court. It was first described and introduced to the west in 1782

Description:
Growth Habit: The lychee tree is handsome, dense, round-topped and slow-growing with smooth, gray, brittle trunk and limbs. Under ideal conditions they may reach 40 feet high, but they are usually much smaller The tree in full fruit is a stunning sight.
Foliage: The leathery, pinnate leaves are divided into four to eight leaflets. They are reddish when young, becoming shiny and bright green. Lychee trees have full foliage and branch to the ground.

 

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Flowers: The tiny petalless, yellowish-green flowers are borne in in terminal clusters to 30 inches. Lychees are eye-catching in spring when the huge sprays of flowers adorn the tree. Flowering precedes fruit maturity by approximately 140 days.

Fruits: The fruit is covered by a leathery rind or pedicarp which is pink to strawberry-red in color and rough in texture. A greenish-yellow variety is not grown in California at present. Fruit shape is oval, heart-shaped or nearly round, 1 to 1-1/2 inches in length. The edible portion or aril is white, translucent, firm and juicy. The flavor is sweet, fragrant and delicious. Inside the aril is a seed that varies considerably in size. The most desirable varieties contain atrophied seeds which are called “chicken tongue”. They are very small, up to 1/2 inch in length. Larger seeds vary between 1/2 to 1 inch in length and are plumper than the chicken tongues. There is also a distinction between the lychee that leaks juice when the skin is broken and the “dry and clean” varieties which are more desirable. In some areas lychees tend to be alternate bearers. Fruit splitting is usually caused by fluctuating soil moisture levels.

Health Benefits of Lychee:
Lychee health benefits are as follows:

•This fruit aids in enhancing the energy of the body.
•Lychee fruit improves fluid contents in the body that are essential for well being and good health of a person.
•This fruit boosts the feeling of well-being of a person.
•It has high amounts of vitamin C and also contains about 40% more vitamin C compared to orange.
•Lychee is also rich in beta carotene which is more than the amount of beta carotene present in carrots.
•This is also considered as a digestive and diuretic.
•Lychee consists of unsaturated fatty acids that aid in the absorbing beta carotene and various other fat soluble vitamins.
•Also it aids in preventing blood clots, serious damage to the cells ands also minimizes strokes to 50% in heart attack patients.
•Lychee is also a rich source of fiber and carbohydrates, that are very essential for the body

Medicinal Uses:
Ingested in moderate amounts, the lychee is said to relieve coughing and to have a beneficial effect on gastralgia, tumors and enlargements of the glands. One stomach-ulcer patient in Florida, has reported that, after eating several fresh lychees he was able to enjoy a large meal that, ordinarily, would have caused great discomfort. Chinese people believe that excessive consumption of raw lychees causes fever and nosebleed. According to legends, ancient devotees have consumed from 300 to 1,000 per day.

In China, the seeds are credited with an analgesic action and they are given in neuralgia and orchitis. A tea of the fruit peel is taken to overcome smallpox eruptions and diarrhea. In India, the seeds are powdered and, because of their astringency, administered in intestinal troubles, and they have the reputation there, as in China, of relieving neuralgic pains. Decoctions of the root, bark and flowers are gargled to alleviate ailments of the throat. Lychee roots have shown activity against one type of tumor in experimental animals in the United States Department of Agriculture/National Cancer Institute Cancer Chemotherapy Screening Program.

Other Uses:
In China, great quantities of honey are harvested from hives near lychee trees. Honey from bee colonies in lychee groves in Florida is light amber, of the highest quality, with a rich, delicious flavor like that of the juice which leaks when the fruit is peeled, and the honey does not granulate.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lychee
http://www.drgranny.com/2011/03/15/health-benefits-of-lychee/
http://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/lychee.html
http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/lychee.html

http://pickmeyard.wordpress.com/tag/pruning-a-lychee-tree/

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Herbs & Plants

Crescentia cujete

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Botanical Name : Crescentia cujete
Family: Bignoniaceae
Genus: Crescentia
Species: C. cujete
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Name : Calabash Tree,It is also known as Ayale (English), Calabacero (Spain), Totumo (Panama and Venezuela), Cujete (Spain, Philippines), Miracle Fruit (Philippines).

Habitat :Tropical America – Colombia north through Central America to Mexico and most of the Caribbean.The plant grows on coastal scrub, dry lowlands in clearings. Roadsides, old pastures, thickets and woodland margins at elevations from sea level to 420 metres in Jamaica.

Crescentia cujete is naturalized in India.

Description:
Crescentia cujete is a small tree growing to a height of 4 to 5 meters with arching branches and close-set clusters of leaves. Leaves are alternate, often fascicled at the nodes, oblanceolate, 5 – 17 cm long, glossy at the upper surface, blunt at the tip and narrowed at the base. Flowers develop from the buds that grow from the main trunk, yellowish and sometimes veined with purple, with a slightly foetid odor, occuring singly or in pairs at the leaf axils, stalked and about 6 cm long, and opens in the evening. The fruit is short-stemmed, rounded, oval or oblong, green or purplish, 15 to 20 cm in diameter.

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Usuable parts: Fruits,bark & leaves

Edible Uses:
The young fruit is occasionally pickled.Considered the equal of pickled walnuts. The seed can be eaten when cooked. It is also used to make a beverage. A syrup and a popular confection called ‘carabobo’ is made from the seed. To make the syrup, the seeds are ground finely, mixed with sugar and a little water then boiled.

The roasted seeds, combined with roasted wheat, are used as an aromatic and flavourful coffee substitute.

The leaves are sometimes cooked in soups.

Properties and constituents:
* Phytochemical studies of the fresh fruit pulp reports the presence of crescentic acid, tartaric acid, citric, and tannic acids, two resins and a coloring matter than resembles indigo.
* Studies yielded tartaric acid, cianhidric acid, citric acid, crescentic acid, tannins, beta-sitosterol, estigmasterol, alpha and beta amirina, estearic acid, palmitic acid.
* Study yielded flavonoids quercetin, apigenin with antiinflammatory, antihemorrahgic and anti-platelet aggregation activities.
* Fruit considered aperient, laxative, expectorant.
* Considered anthelmintic, analgesic, antiinflammatory, febrifuge, laxative.
* Phytochemical study of the fruit yielded eight new compounds, along with four known compounds, acanthoside D, ß-D-glucopransoyl benzoate, (R)-1-0-ß-glucopyranosyl-1,3-octanediol.

Medicinal Uses:
Uses include the seed as an abortive and the roasted fruit pulp was eaten to force menses, birth, and afterbirth.  Consequently, it is best not to consume this plant while pregnant.  The pulp was also used as a purgative and in Barbados for abortions when boiled with leaves of Swietenia spp. and Petiveria alliacea. The mixture, however, causes nausea, diarrhea and poisoning. Dried bark shows in vitro antibacterial activity against Bacillus subtilis, Psuedomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcos aureus and Escherichia coli.  In Suriname’s traditional medicine, the fruit pulp is used for respiratory problems (asthma).

Folkloric:
* In India, used as a pectoral, the poulticed pulp applied to the chest.
* In the West Indies, syrup prepared from the pulp used for dysentery and as pectoral.
* In Rio de Janeiro, the alcoholic extract of the not-quite ripe fruit used to relieve constipation
* For erysipelas, the fresh pulp is boiled in water to form a black paste, mixed and boiled with vinegar, spread on linen for dermatologic application.
* The bark is used for mucoid diarrhea.
* Fruit pulp used as laxative and expectorant.
* In the Antilles and Western Africa, fruit pulp macerated in water is considered depurative, cooling and febrifuge, and applied to burns and headaches.
* In West Africa, fruit roasted in ashes is purgative and diuretic.
* In Sumatra, bark decoction used to clean wounds and pounded leaves used as poultice for headaches.
* Internally, leaves used as diuretic.
* In the Antilles, fresh tops and leaves are ground and used as topicals for wounds and as cicatrizant.
* In Venezuela, decoction of bark used for diarrhea. Also, used to treat hematomas and tumors.
* In Costa Rica, used as purgative.
* In Cote-d’Ivoire, used for hypertension because of its diuretic effect.
* In Columbia, used for respiratory afflictions.
* In Vietnam, used as expectorant, antitussive, laxative and stomachic.
* In Haiti, the fruit of Crescentia cujete is part of the herbal mixtures reported in its traditional medicine. In the province of Camaguey in Cuba, is considered a panacea.
* In Panama, where it is called totumo, the fruit is used for diarrhea and stomachaches. Also for respiratory ailments, bronchitis, cough, colds, toothaches. headaches, menstrual irregularities; as laxative, antiinflammatory, febrifuge. The leaves are used for hypertension.
Others
* In some countries, the dried shell of the fruit is used to make bowls and fruit containers, decorated with paintings or carvings.
* Used in making maracas or musical rattle..
* In Brazil, the fibrous lining of the fruit is sometimes used as a substitute for cigarette paper.
* A favorite perch for orchids.

Studies:
* Phytochemicals:
(1) Previous studies have yielded naphthoquinones and iridoid glucosides. The fruits yielded 15 new compounds, 3 iridoid glucosides, five iridoids, 3 2,4-pentanediol glycosides, along with known compounds.

(2) Study fruit constituents yielded 16 iridoids and iridoid glucosides,

* Nutritive and Anti-Nutritive Composition of Calabash Fruit: Pulp was found to have high mineral concentrations; sodium, highest; calcium, lowest, with high values of thiamine and found to be free from HCN toxicity and suggests useful contributions to human health and nutrition.

* Bioactive Furanonaphthoquinones : Study isolated new and known bioactive compounds showing selective activity toward DNA-repair-deficient yeast mutants.

* Antibacterial: In a study of extracts against E. coli and S. aureus, Crescentia cujete showed activity against S. aureus.

* Snake Venom Neutralizing Effect: In a study of t5 plant extracts used by traditional healers in Colombia for snakebites, 31 had moderate to high neutralizing ability against the hemorrhagic effect of Bothrops atrox venom. C cujete (unripe fruits) was one of 19 that showed moderate neutralization.

* Antidiabetic: In a non experimental validation for antidiabetic activity, study yields cyanhidric acid believed to stimulate insulin release.

Other Uses:
The plant produces subglobose hard-shelled fruits about 15 – 30cm long. Local people constrict the growth of these fruits by tying strings around them and, by so doing, fashion them into a variety of shapes. These can then be used as rattles, bowls, cups, containers etc, in much the same way as bottle gourds are used.
The most general use of the shells is for making drinking vessels, but the larger ones serve to store all sorts of articles. Sections of the oblong forms are much used in place of spoons. Many of the jicaras, as the cups made from the shells are called, are handsomely decorated in colours or by incised designs. The hard, smooth shells polish well and are finely carved for ritual use in some parts of Africa.

The wood is light brown or yellowish brown, with fine veining of darker colour, without distinctive taste or odour; moderately hard and heavy, tough and strong, coarse-textured, fairly easy to work, takes a smooth finish; but is probably not durable. It is used for ox yokes, tool handles, and vehicle parts. and is sometimes used in construction.

Thick crooked limbs often are used in Guatemala for making saddle trees.
The wood has been used from Colonial times to the present to make stirrups – some of those of the colonial period are beautifully carved and are real objects of art. The wood is easy to carve when still green but when thoroughly seasoned is ‘like iron’ and some have perhaps been in use for ‘hundreds’ of years.
The wood is also used for fuel

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crescentia_cujete
http://www.stuartxchange.org/Cujete.html
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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Herbs & Plants

Crinum latifolium

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Botanical  Name :Crinum latifolium
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Subfamily: Amaryllidoideae
Genus: Crinum
Species: C. latifolium
Kingdom: Plantae
clade: Angiosperms
clade: Monocots
Order: Asparagales

Common Names:Lily, Giant Spider,White Lily

Habitat :Native Myanmar .  Crinum latifolium grows in many places in the world. It grows naturally in Asia, from India and Sri Lanka through much of mainland Southeast Asia to south China (Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan). It is also reportedly naturalized in the West Indies and in the Chagos Archipelago.

Description:
Crinum latifolium is a rosette-like herb that arises from an underground bulb. It is smaller and spreads less than other varieties of Crinum. It has a tidy rosette and long, straplike leaves. Five or more flowers grow on a stalk about 2 feet above the foliage of the plant. The flowers open in the late afternoon or evening and wilt by dawn of the next day from June until August. It is a stout perennial herb of about 2 m in height. Leaves are long, linear and ligulate type. Flowers are white in color and arranged in umbel. It’s flowers are sweet-scented, night-blooming . It is sometimes called milk crinum and wine crinum because of its white and pink blossoms. It can be used in the landscape and for medicinal purposes.

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Medicinal Uses:
Bulbs and leaves of crinum are useful in herbal medicines. It is highly useful in the treatment of serious health conditions like prostatitis, adenoma, benign prostate enlargement, uterine fibroids etc. It is used to enhance cell-mediated immunity and acts as an effective T-lymphocyte activator. It is also used in cases of hypoxia, inflammation, detoxification, tissue regeneration, and hormone balancing. Leaf juice is used for earache, rheumatic pain, and sprain. Bulbs are used to induce vomiting.

A leafy traditional Vietnamese herbal remedy, it was used in ancient times by the royalty to enhance longevity. It is currently used in Vietnam for a wide variety of health benefits in treatment for serious health conditions including prostate and ovarian disorders such as prostatitis, adenoma, benign prostate enlargement, uterine fibroids, ovarian cysts and tumors. It is known to contain eleven different alkaloids and amino acids. Crinum latifolium also contains steroid saponins and antioxidants, supports cellular immunity, and has been researched as being an effective T-lymphocyte activator. It may also be used to assist the body in improving hypoxia, infection and chronic inflammation, detoxification, regeneration of tissues, hormone balancing and is particularly supportive to the prostate and ovaries.  The leaf juices of this plant are used in India to alleviate ear-ache, and the bulbs, after roasting, are laid on the skin to ease rheumatic pain.   Leaves of the herb smeared with castor oil and warmed is a useful remedy for repelling whitlows and other inflammations at the end of toes and fingers. You can also use bruised leaves of the herb mixed with castor oil for this purpose. The herb is also useful to treat inflamed joints and sprains. For earache and other ear complaints, use slightly warmed juice of the leaves mixed with a little salt. You can also use an oil prepared from the fresh juice for this purpose.  The bulbs are powerfully emetic and are used to produce vomiting in poisoning especially antiaries.

You may click to see:
*Crinum latifolium touted to treat prostate cancer in Vietnam:
*Crinum latifolium Gardening
*Healthy Living Solutions

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://search.myway.com/search/GGcached.jhtml?pg=GGmain&ord=1&action=click&searchfor=Crinum%2Blatifolium&curl=http%3A%2F%2Fen.wikipedia.org%2Fwiki%2FCrinum_latifolium&isDirResults=false&tpr=sbt&cid=Mk0GPaSZDQQJ&st=site&ct=GC
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_LMN.htm

http://www.gardenguides.com/74753-crinum-latifolium.html

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Herbs & Plants

Plectranthus amboinicus

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Botanical Name : Plectranthus amboinicus
Family: Lamiaceae
Genus: Plectranthus
Species: P. amboinicus
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Common Names:Cuban oregano, Spanish thyme, Orégano Brujo (Puerto Rico), Indian Borage, Húng chanh (Vietnam), Big Thyme (Grenada) Mexican thyme, and Mexican mint

Habitat : Plectranthus amboinicus is native to Southern and Eastern Africa, but widely cultivated and naturalised in the Old and New World Tropics.

Description:
Plectranthus amboinicus is a tender fleshy perennial plant in the family Lamiaceae with an oregano-like flavor and odor.

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It  is now very commonly grown as a potted plant in many households. Plectranthus amboinicus is a fast growing plant. Propagation is via stem cuttings. To encourage a bushy plant, cut the tip of the top, insert into the soil and instantly, you have another plant as the cutting will grow within days.The Indian Borage ideally should be grown in a semi-shaded and moist location as the leaves will remain a beautiful jade-green colour. If it is getting too much sun, the leaves turn yellow, start curling and look unsightly; if not enough sun, the leaves turn a dark shade of green and spaced out.

Cultivation:
The herb grows easily in a well-drained, semi-shaded position. It is frost tender and grows well in sub-tropical and tropical locations, but will do well in cooler climates if grown in a pot and brought indoors, or moved to a warm sheltered position in winter. Water only sparingly.

Uses:
The leaves are strongly flavoured and make an excellent addition to stuffings for meat and poultry. Finely chopped, they can also be used to flavour meat dishes, especially beef, lamb and game.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves have had many traditional medicinal uses, especially for the treatment of coughs, sore throats and nasal congestion, but also for a range of other problems such as infections, rheumatism and flatulence. In Indonesia Plectranthus amboinicus is a traditional food used in soup to stimulate lactation for the month or so following childbirth.

The herb is also used as a substitute for oregano in the food trade and food labelled “oregano-flavoured” may well contain this herb.

In Kerala in India this is called as “panikoorka” and has various uses in treating cold / cough / fever in infants.

Used traditionally within Ayurvedic and Unani Tibb herbal medicine to help reduce inflammation and is prescribed for bronchitis and asthma. It is reputed to very effective as a treatment for coughs. Old people says that it is often referred to as “pokok asthma”.  The fresh leaves are pounded and the extracted juice mixed with water.  An alternative method recommended is to boil a sprig in water with honey thrown in for added measure.

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://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plectranthus_amboinicus
http://www.herbnet.com/Herb%20Uses_C.htm

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