Saturday, September 9, 2023

Moringa oleifera

Moringa oleifera is a fast-growing, drought-tolerant tree that is native to the Indian subcontinent. It is also known as the drumstick tree, the horseradish tree, or the miracle tree. Moringa is a highly nutritious plant that is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It has been used for centuries in traditional medicine to treat a variety of health conditions.

Moringa is relatively easy to cultivate and is recommended for USDA Zones 9-11, or it can be grown as an annual crop in colder climates. It prefers full sun and well-drained soil. The trees will quickly grow to a height of 10-20 feet. To encourage leaf production and to make harvesting easier, keep the trees topped to force a more bushy habit. Moringa trees can be harvested for their leaves, flowers, seeds, or pods throughout the year.

Moringa leaves and flowers can be eaten fresh, cooked or dried. They can also be made into a powder or tea. The leaves have 7 times more vitamin C than oranges, 10 times more vitamin A than carrots, 17 times more calcium than milk, 9 times more protein than yoghurt, 15 times more potassium than bananas, and 25 times more iron than spinach, according to the National Institute of Nutrition in India (Gopalan C., B.V. Rama Sastri & S.C. Balasubramanian. 1981. Nutritive values of Indian foods. National Institute of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research, Hyderabad, India).

The tender young pods can be eaten raw or cooked.

Moringa seeds can be eaten raw or roasted. They can also be pressed for oil that is high in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fatty acid.

Some of the benefits of using moringa include reduced blood sugar levels, lowered cholesterol levels and boosted immunity. It has also been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Piper sarmentosum (wild betel, lolot)

 Piper sarmentosum is an herbaceous perennial, native to Southeast Asia, but is now cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions around the world.

It is a popular culinary herb in its native land. The leaves are used to wrap meat and other foods, and they can also be eaten raw in salads. They have a mild herbal flavor that complements a variety of dishes. They are also good in soups and vegetable dishes.

Photo courtesy of one of my customers.

The leaves are dark green and glossy, and about 4 inches across. Thin, erect stems grow to a height of about 2-3 feet, and send out runners that root at each node where it touches the soil.

The plant also produces small, white flowers in spikes.

Piper sarmentosum will grow in sun or shade. The leaves are usually larger and darker green in the shade. Plants in full sun may need additional watering to look their best. This species is recommended for USDA Zones 9-12. Propagation is by transplanting the rooted runners.

The plant is known as "wild betel" because its leaves are similar in appearance to the closely related betel leaves, but these have a milder flavor. 

Lolot has a long history of medicinal use. The plant has traditionally been used to treat a variety of conditions, including hypertension, diabetes, cough, fever, and rheumatism. Recent research has confirmed some of these traditional uses, and lolot is now being investigated for its potential to treat other diseases as well. The plant has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties. Lolot is a safe and effective herb for most people, but it is important to consult with a healthcare professional before using it if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or have any underlying health conditions.

Photo courtesy of one of my customers.

Related reading: Piper auritum