For sometime time now, I’ve been collecting information re: plants and how they can be beneficial for our health. As most of us are now faced with the challenge of living with less, medicinal plants, as opposed to expensive man-made drugs, are becoming more alluring. Recently, I wrote about aloe vera. Really, why buy face & body creams when you can use the aloe gel for free. And aloe is not only good for the skin, it halts colon cancer, heals the intestines and lubricates the digestive tract.
Thinking it was along the lines of “The Secret Life of Plants” or “Grow Your Own Drugs“, I ordered this book a few months ago but was a bit disappointed after reading it. The first half of the book dragged but probably because I had had other expectations. Nevertheless, the book offers some interesting information:
The Banyan Tree: The Indian Banyan tree is a type of fig tree that can store up to 25,000 gallons of water and often lives for more than 1000 years. It is huge and can cover enormous areas of land. Alexander the Great supposedly camped under a banyan tree that was large enough to shelter his army of 7,000 men.
Banyan Tree and Temples of the Angkor Complex in Cambodia: “Built from 802 to 1220 AD by the Khmer civilization, the temples at Angkor represent one of the most enduring and astonishing architectural achievements of humankind. …”
The Banyan Tree produces roots that grow so large as to form secondary trunks to support the tree’s expansive limbs. The trunks continue to produce roots and roots until the original tree is eventually crowded out.
The Ironwood Tree: Ironwood trees grow in the Sonaran Desert. Their seeds take a long time to germinate but, once they do, they alter the soil around them giving chemical cues that promote new plant life. And a new plant community.
Ironwood trees have roots that go deep into the ground searching for water. They suck in large amounts of water every day and then breath it out at night thus watering surrounding plants. The means that Ironwood trees can increase life around it by 88% and richness of species by 64% in any area in which it grows.
Artemisias and ambrosias: The name “artemisia” derives from Artemis (the Greek goddess of the hunt yet protector of women with diseases). There are several varieties of this plant and one variety is known as wormwood. Wormwood is mentioned several times in the Bible. Although bitter in taste, it has medicinal qualities and is used to relieve melancholia and to fight neurasthenia. Wormwood also is used to make liquers including absinthe (Van Gogh’s favorite) and Wermuth, “preserver of the mind”.
Keith Richards grew a lemon tree from a pip then germinated it by hand because, as he explains, “Somebody told me that in the winter, when the flowers come up, you’ve got to germinate them.” (see interview with Jimmy Fallon re: his lemons here) Since so many bees are tragically dying because of pesticides, in the future hand pollination may be the only means of growing fruit.