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Areca Seed – Areca Catechu

Areca Seed – Areca Catechu

Areca catechu is the areca palm or areca nut palm, (Malay: Pinang), a species of palm which grows in much of the tropical Pacific, Asia, and parts of east Africa. The palm is believed to have originated in either Malaysia or the Philippines. Areca is derived from a local name from the Malabar coast of India and catechu is from another Malay name for this palm ‘caccu.’

This palm is often erroneously called the betel tree because its fruit, the areca nut, is often chewed along with the betel leaf, a leaf from a vine of the Piperaceae family.

Growth

It is a medium-sized and graceful palm tree growing straight to 20 m tall, with a trunk 10-15cm in diameter. The leaves are 1.5-2 m long, pinnate, with numerous, crowded leaflets. It is also known as Puga in Sanskrit, Supari in Marathi.

Characteristics

19th century drawing of Areca catechu

Areca catechu is grown for its commercially important seed crop, the areca nut. The seed contains alkaloids such as arecaine and arecoline, which when chewed is intoxicating and is also slightly addictive. Areca palms are grown in India, Malaysia, Taiwan and many other Asian countries for their seeds.

Etymology

Penang Island, off the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Fua Mulaku in the Maldives and Guwahati in Assam,coastal areas of Kerala and Karnataka in India, are some of the places named after a local name for areca nut.

Uses

The Areca palm is also used as an interior landscaping species. It is often used in large indoor areas such as malls and hotels. It won’t fruit or reach full size. Indoors it is a slow growing, low water, high light plant that is sensitive to spider mite and occasionally mealybug. The areca nut is also popular for chewing throughout some Asian countries such as Taiwan, Vietnam, Philippine, Malaysia, and India and the Pacific notably Papua New Guinea where it is very popular. Chewing areca nut is quite popular among working classes in Taiwan. The nut itself can be addictive and has direct link to mouth cancers. Areca nut in Taiwan will usually contain artificial additives such as limestone powder.

The extract of Areca catechu has been shown to have antidepressant properties, but it may be addictive.

Areca Seed is the dried ripe seed of Areca catechu L. (Fam. Palmae).

Action: To kill worms, to remove undigested food, to promote the flow of qi, and to stop malarial attacks.

Indications: Taeniasis, ascariasis, fasciolopsiasis; abdominal pain due to intestinal parasitosis; diarrhea and tenesmus due to accumulation of undigested food; edema and weakness of the legs; malaria.

Usage:For the treatment of taeniasis and fasciolopsi- asis

Areca catechu, areca palm, areca nut palmPinang, palm, tropical Pacific, Asia, east Africa, originated,  Malaysia, Philippines, Areca, Malabar, India, catechu, Malay,  palm ‘caccu

Watermelon

Watermelon

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Scientific Name: Citrullus Vulgaris

Biological Background: The fruit of an annual vine belonging to the squash and melon family. Watermelon originated in Africa and has been cultivated since ancient times in the Mediterranean region, Egypt and India.

Nutritional Information: One slice of watermelon (480 g) contains 152 calories, 3 g protein, 34.6 g carbohydrates, 2.4 g fiber, 560 mg potassium, 176 mg vitamin A (RE), 47 mg vitamin C, 0.3 mg thiamin, 0.1 mg riboflavin, and 0.96 mg niacin.

History

Watermelon is thought to have originated in southern Africa, where it is found growing wild, because it reaches maximum genetic diversity resulting in sweet, bland and bitter forms there. Alphonse de Candolle, in 1882, already considered the evidence sufficient to prove that watermelon was indigenous to tropical Africa. Though Citrullus colocynthis is often considered to be a wild ancestor of watermelon, and is now found native in north and west Africa, Fenny Dane and Jiarong Liu, suggest on the basis of chloroplast DNA investigations, that the cultivated and wild watermelon appear to have diverged independently from a common ancestor, possibly C. ecirrhosus from Namibia.

It is not known when the plant was first cultivated, but Zohary and Hopf note evidence of its cultivation in the Nile Valley from at least as early as the second millennium BC. Although watermelon is not depicted in any Egyptian hieroglyphic text nor does any ancient writer mention it, finds of the characteristically large seed are reported in Twelfth dynasty sites; numerous watermelon seeds were recovered from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun.

By the 10th century AD, watermelons were being cultivated in China, which is today the world’s single largest watermelon producer. By the 13th century, Moorish invaders had introduced the fruit to Europe; and, according to John Mariani’s The Dictionary of American Food and Drink, “watermelon” made its first appearance in an English dictionary in 1615.

In Vietnam, legend holds that watermelon was discovered in Vietnam long before it reached China, in the era of the Hùng Kings. According to legend, watermelon was discovered by Prince Mai An Tiêm, an adopted son of the 11th Hùng King. When he was exiled unjustly to an island, he was told that if he could survive for six months, he would be allowed to return. When he prayed for guidance, a bird flew past and dropped a seed. He cultivated the seed and called its fruit “dưa tây” or western melon, because the birds who ate it flew from the west. When the Chinese took over Vietnam in about 110 BC, they called the melons “dưa hảo” (good melon) or “dưa hấu”, “dưa Tây”, “dưa hảo”, “dưa hấu”—all words for “watermelon”. An Tiêm’s island is now a peninsula in the suburban district of Nga

Nutrition

Watermelon contains about 6% sugar and 92% water by weight. As with many other fruits, it is a source of vitamin C.

Notable is the inner rind or the watermelon which is usually a light green or white color. This area is edible and contains many hidden nutrients that most people avoid eating due to its void taste.

The amino acid citrulline was first extracted from watermelon and analysed. Watermelons contain a significant amount of citrulline and after consumption of several kg an elevated concentration is measured in the blood plasma; this could be mistaken for citrullinaemia or other urea cycle disorder.

Watermelon rinds are also edible, and sometimes used as a vegetable. In China, they are stir-fried, stewed, or more often pickled. When stir-fried, the de-skinned and de-fruited rind is cooked with olive oil, garlic, chili peppers, scallions, sugar and rum. Pickled watermelon rind is also commonly consumed in the Southern US, Russia, Ukraine, Romania and Bulgaria.[citation needed] In the Balkans, especially Serbia, watermelon slatko is also popular. Watermelon juice can also be made into wine.

Watermelon is also mildly diuretic.

Watermelons contain large amounts of beta carotene.

Watermelon with red flesh is a significant source of lycopene.

A traditional food plant in Africa, this fruit has potential to improve nutrition, boost food security, foster rural development and support sustainable landcare.

Varieties

  • Carolina Cross: This variety of watermelon produced the current world record watermelon weighing 262 pounds (119 kg). It has green skin, red flesh and commonly produces fruit between 65 and 150 pounds (29 and 68 kg). It takes about 90 days from planting to harvest.
  • Yellow Crimson Watermelon: variety of watermelon that has a yellow colored flesh. This particular type of watermelon has been described as “sweeter” and more “honey” flavored than the more popular red flesh watermelon.
  • Orangeglo: This variety has a very sweet orange pulp, and is a large oblong fruit weighing 9–14 kg (20-30 pounds). It has a light green rind with jagged dark green stripes. It takes about 90–100 days from planting to harvest.
  • The Moon and Stars variety of watermelon has been around since 1926. The rind is purple/black and has many small yellow circles (stars) and one or two large yellow circles (moon). The melon weighs 9–23 kg (20-50 pounds).The flesh is pink or red and has brown seeds. The foliage is also spotted. The time from planting to harvest is about 90 days.
  • Cream of Saskatchewan: This variety consists of small round fruits, around 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. It has a quite thin, light green with dark green striped rind, with sweet white flesh and black seeds. It can grow well in cool climates. It was originally brought to Saskatchewan, Canada by Russian immigrants. These melons take 80–85 days from planting to harvest.
  • Melitopolski: This variety has small round fruits roughly 28–30 cm (11-12 inches) in diameter. It is an early ripening variety that originated from the Volga River region of Russia, an area known for cultivation of watermelons. The Melitopolski watermelons are seen piled high by vendors in Moscow in summer. This variety takes around 95 days from planting to harvest.
  • Densuke Watermelon: This variety has round fruit up to 25 lb (11 kg). The rind is black with no stripes or spots. It is only grown on the island of Hokkaido, Japan, where up to 10 000 watermelons are produced every year. In June 2008, one of the first harvested watermelons was sold at an auction for 650 000 yen (6300 USD), making the most expensive watermelon ever sold. The average selling price is generally around 25 000 yen (250 USD).

Watermelon flowers

Culture

For commercial plantings, one beehive per acre (over 9,000 m² per hive) is the minimum recommendation by the US Department of Agriculture for pollination of conventional, seeded varieties. Because seedless hybrids have sterile pollen; pollinizer rows of varieties with viable pollen must also be planted.

Since the supply of viable pollen is reduced and pollination is much more critical in producing the seedless variety, the recommended number of hives per acre, or pollinator density, increases to three hives per acre (1,300 m² per hive).

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Pineapple

Pineapple

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Scientific Name: Ananas cosmosus

Biological Background: A tropical plant with stiff, spiny leaves that yields a single large fruit. Pineapple originated in Brazil.

Nutritional Information: One cup (155 g) of raw pineapple contains 76 calories, 0.6 g protein, 19.2 g carbohydrates, 2.95 g fiber, 175 g potassium, 124 mg vitamin C, 0.14 mg thiamin, 0.06 mg riboflavin, 0.65 mg niacin.

Pharmacological Activity: It suppresses inflammation due to Bromelain, an antibacterial enzyme. Pineapple aids digestion and helps to dissolve blood clots, and is food for preventing osteoporosis and bone fractures because of its very high manganese content. It is also antibacterial, antiviral and mildly estrogenic.

Eating Tips: Eat fresh. Canning destroys some pharmacological activities of pineapple.

Etymology

The word pineapple in English was first recorded in 1398, when it was originally used to describe the reproductive organs of conifer trees (now termed pine cones). When European explorers discovered this tropical fruit, they called them pineapples (term first recorded in that sense in 1664) because of their resemblance to what is now known as the pine cone. The term pine cone was first recorded in 1694 and was used to replace the original meaning of pineapple.

In the scientific binomial Ananas comosus, ananas, the original name of the fruit, comes from the Tupi (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) word for pine nanas, as recorded by André Thevenet in 1555 and comosus means “tufted” and refers to the stem of the fruit. Other members of the Ananas genus are often called pine as well by laymen.

Many languages use the Tupian term ananas. In Spanish, pineapples are called piña “pine cone” in Spain and most Hispanic American countries, or ananá (ananás in Argentina) (see the piña colada drink). They have varying names in the languages of India: “Anaasa” (అనాస) in telugu, annachi pazham (Tamil), anarosh (Bengali), and in Malayalam, kaitha chakka. In Malay, pineapples are known as “nanas” or “nenas”. In the Maldivian language of Dhivehi, pineapples are known as alanaasi. A large, sweet pineapple grown especially in Brazil is called abacaxi


Botany

The pineapple is a herbaceous perennial plant which grows to 1.0 to 1.5 metres (3.3 to 4.9 ft) tall with 30 or more trough-shaped and pointed leaves 30 to 100 centimetres (1.0 to 3.3 ft) long, surrounding a thick stem. The pineapple is an example of a multiple fruit: multiple, helically-arranged flowers along the axis each produce a fleshy fruit that becomes pressed against the fruits of adjacent flowers, forming what appears to be a single fleshy fruit.

The fruit of a pineapple are arranged in two interlocking helices, eight in one direction, thirteen in the other, each being a Fibonacci number.

The leaves of the cultivar ‘Smooth Cayenne’ mostly lack spines except at the leaf tip, but the cultivars ‘Spanish’ and ‘Queen’ have large spines along the leaf margins.

Nutrition

Pineapple contains a proteolytic enzyme bromelain, which breaks down protein. Pineapple juice can thus be used as a marinade and tenderizer for meat. The enzymes in raw pineapples can interfere with the preparation of some foods, such as jelly or other gelatin-based desserts. The bromelain breaks down in cooking or the canning process, thus canned pineapple can generally be used with gelatin. These enzymes can be hazardous to someone suffering from certain protein deficiencies or disorders, such as Ehlers-Danlos syndrome.[citation needed] Raw pineapples also should not be consumed by those with hemophilia or by those with kidney or liver disease, as it may reduce the time taken to coagulate a consumer’s blood.[citation needed]

Consumers of pineapple have claimed that pineapple has benefits for some intestinal disorders and others believe it serves as a pain reliever; others claim that it helps to induce childbirth when a baby is overdue.

Pineapple is a good source of manganese (91 %DV in a 1 cup serving), as well as containing significant amounts of Vitamin C (94 %DV in a 1 cup serving) and Vitamin B1 (8 %DV in a 1 cup serving).

Cultivation

Southeast Asia dominates world production: in 2001 Thailand produced 1.979 million tons, the Philippines 1.618 million tons while in the Americas, Brazil 1.43 million tons. Total world production in 2001 was 14.220 million tons. The primary exporters of fresh pineapples in 2001 were Costa Rica, 322,000 tons; Côte d’Ivoire, 188,000 tons; and the Philippines, 135,000 tons.

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