Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Lady's Slipper Orchids

Lady's slipper orchids, lady slipper orchids or slipper orchids are the orchids in the subfamily Cypripedioidea, which includes the genera Cypripedium, Mexipedium, Paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium and Selenipedium. They are characterised by the slipper-shaped pouches (modified labellums) of the flowers – the pouch traps insects so they are forced to climb up past the staminode, behind which they collect or deposit pollinia, thus fertilising the flower.

This subfamily has been considered by some to be a family Cypripediaceae, separate from the Orchidaceae.

The subfamily Cypripedioideae is monophyletic and consists of five genera. Their common features are two fertile diandrous (that is, with two perfect stamens) anthers, a shield-shaped staminode and a saccate (sac-shaped) lip.

The Cypripedium genus is found across much of North America, as well as in parts of Europe and Asia. The state flower of Minnesota is the Showy Lady's Slipper (Cypripedium reginae). The Lady's Slipper is also the official provincial flower of Prince Edward Island, a province of Canada.

Paphiopedilums are found in the tropical forests of southeast Asia reaching as far north as southern China. Paphiopedilum is quite easy to cultivate and therefore is popular among orchid enthusiasts. In fact, overcollecting of this genus has caused some problems in its original habitat.

Phragmipedium, found across northern South and Central America, is also easy to cultivate as it requires lower temperatures than Paphiopedilum, eliminating the need for a greenhouse in many areas.

The lady's slipper is also known in the United States of America as the moccasin flower, from its resemblance to a shoe or moccasin.

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County flowers in the United Kingdom

A county flower is a flowering plant chosen to symbolise a county. They exist primarily in the United Kingdom, but some counties in other countries also have them.

One or two county flowers have a long history in England - the Red rose of Lancashire dates from the Middle Ages, for instance. However, the county flower concept was only extended to cover the whole United Kingdom in 2002, as a promotional tool by a charity. In that year, the plant conservation charity Plantlife ran a competition to choose county flowers for all counties, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.

Plantlife's scheme is loosely based on Britain's historic counties, and so some current local government areas are not represented by a flower, and some of the counties included no longer exist as administrative areas. Flowers were also chosen for thirteen major cities: Belfast, Birmingham, Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle upon Tyne, Nottingham and Sheffield. The Isles of Scilly was also treated as a county (distinct from Cornwall) for the purpose of the scheme. The Isle of Man was included, but not the Channel Islands.

A total of 94 flowers was chosen in the competition. 85 of the 109 counties have a unique county flower, but several species were chosen by more than one county. Foxglove or Digitalis purpurea was chosen for four counties - Argyll, Birmingham, Leicestershire and Monmouthshire - more than any other species. The following species were chosen for three counties each:
• Bog Rosemary Andromeda polifolia (Cardiganshire and Tyrone)
• Cowslip Primula veris (Northamptonshire, Surrey and Worcestershire)
• Harebell Campanula rotundifolia (Antrim, Dumfriesshire and Yorkshire)
• Thrift Armeria maritima (Buteshire, Pembrokeshire and the Isles of Scilly)

And the following species were chosen for two counties:
• Grass-of-parnassus Parnassia palustris (Cumberland and Sutherland)
• Pasqueflower Pulsatilla vulgaris (Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire)
• Common Poppy Papaver rhoeas (Essex and Norfolk)

In addition, Sticky Catchfly Lychnis viscaria was chosen for both Edinburgh and Midlothian, the county containing Edinburgh.

For most counties, native species were chosen, but for a small number of counties, non-natives were chosen, mainly archaeophytes. For example Hampshire has a Tudor Rose as it's county flower even though it is not a native species.

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What is Lavender Oil?

Lavender oil is an essential oil obtained by distillation from the flower spikes of certain species of lavender. Two forms are distinguished, lavender flower oil, a colorless oil, insoluble in water, having a density of 0.885 g/mL; and lavender spike oil, a distillate from the herb Lavandula latifolia, having density 0.905 g/mL. Lavender flower oil is a designation of the National Formulary and the British Pharmacopoeia. Like all essential oils, it is not a pure compound; it is a complex mixture of naturally occurring phytochemicals, including linalool and linalyl acetate.

Lavender oil, which has long been used in the production of perfume, can also be used in aromatherapy. The scent has a calming effect which may aid in relaxation and the reduction of anxiety. Kashmir Lavender oil is also very famous as it is produced from the foothills of Himalayas.

It may also help to relieve pain from tension headache when breathed in as vapor or diluted and rubbed on the skin. When added to a vaporizer, lavender oil may aid in the treatment of cough and respiratory infection.

Lavender oil may also be used as a mosquito repellent when worn as perfume or when added to lotions or hair products.

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Lavender for Culinary

Flowers also yield abundant nectar from which bees make a high-quality honey. Monofloral honey is produced primarily around the Mediterranean, and is marketed worldwide as a premium product. Flowers can be candied and are sometimes used as cake decorations. Lavender flavors baked goods and desserts (it pairs especially well with chocolate), as well as used to make "lavender sugar." Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with black, green, or herbal tea, adding a fresh, relaxing scent and flavour.

Though it has many other traditional uses in southern France, lavender is not used in traditional southern French cooking. In the 1970s, an herb blend called herbes de Provence and usually including lavender was invented by spice wholesalers, and lavender has more recently become popular in cookery.

Lavender lends a floral and slightly sweet flavor to most dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep's-milk and goat's-milk cheeses. For most cooking applications the dried buds (also referred to as flowers) are used, though some chefs experiment with the leaves as well. Only the buds contain the essential oil of lavender, which is where the scent and flavour of lavender are best derived.

The French are also known for their lavender syrup, most commonly made from an extract of lavender. In the United States, both French lavender syrup and dried lavender buds make lavender scones and marshmallows.

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About the International Cherry Blossom Festival

The International Cherry Blossom Festival is held in Macon, Georgia every spring. As Macon is known as the "Cherry Blossom Capital of the World," 300,000 Yoshino Cherry Trees bloom around downtown, college campuses, and the neighborhoods of Macon in late March every year. The festival lasts for ten days and features events for people of all ages. The festival is not associated with the National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington, D.C.

The Macon International Cherry Blossom Festival also often hold animal shows, concerts, theatrical performances, international showcase events, house tours, fashion shows, galas, luncheons, marathons, dances, fair rides, and bus tours along scenic Cherry Blossom trails.

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Rhizomes of Iris Flowers

Rhizomes of the German Iris (I. germanica) and Sweet Iris (I. pallida) are traded as orris root and are used in perfume and medicine, though more common in ancient times than today. Today Iris essential oil (absolute) from flowers are sometimes used in aromatherapy as sedative medicines. The dried rhizomes are also given whole to babies to help in teething. Gin brands such as Bombay Sapphire and Magellan Gin use orris root and sometimes iris flowers for flavor and color.

For orris root production, iris rhizomes are harvested, dried, and aged for up to 5 years. In this time, the fats and oils inside the roots undergo degradation and oxidation, which produces many fragrant compounds that are valuable in perfumery.
The scent is said to be similar to violets. The aged rhizomes are steam-distilled which produces a thick oily compound, known in the perfume industry as "iris butter".

Iris rhizomes also contain notable amounts of terpenes, and organic acids such as ascorbic acid, myristic acid, tridecylenic acid and undecylenic acid. Iris rhizomes can be toxic. Larger Blue Flag (I. versicolor) and other species often grown in gardens and widely hybridized contain elevated amounts of the toxic glycoside iridin. These rhizomes can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and/or skin irritation, but poisonings are not normally fatal. Irises should only be used medicinally under professional guidance.

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Hanami as the Japanese Traditional Custom of Enjoying the Beauty of Flowers

Hanami (flower viewing) is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, "flower" in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms or ume blossoms. From mid January to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan. The blossom forecast (桜前線 sakurazensen?, literally cherry blossom front) is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura (夜桜?, literally night sakura). In many places such as Ueno Park temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura.

The practice of hanami is many centuries old. The custom is said to have started during the Nara Period (710–794) when it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning. But by the Heian Period (794–1185), sakura came to attract more attention and hanami was synonymous with sakura. From then on, in tanka and haiku, "flowers" meant "sakura."

Hanami was first used as a term analogous to cherry blossom viewing in the Heian era novel Tale of Genji. Whilst a wisteria viewing party was also described, from this point on the terms "hanami" and "flower party" were only used to describe cherry blossom viewing.

Sakura originally was used to divine that year's harvest as well as announce the rice-planting season. People believed in kami inside the trees and made offerings. Afterwards, they partook of the offering with sake.

The custom was originally limited to the elite of the Imperial Court, but soon spread to samurai society and, by the Edo period, to the common people as well. Tokugawa Yoshimune planted areas of cherry blossom trees to encourage this. Under the sakura trees, people had lunch and drank sake in cheerful feasts.

Today, the Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami, gathering in great numbers wherever the flowering trees are found. Thousands of people fill the parks to hold feasts under the flowering trees, and sometimes these parties go on until late at night. In more than half of Japan, the cherry blossoming period coincides with the beginning of the scholastic and fiscal years, and so welcoming parties are often opened with hanami. The Japanese people continue the tradition of hanami by taking part in the processional walks through the parks. This is a form of retreat for contemplating and renewing their spirits.

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The Resourceful Roselle

The roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is a species of Hibiscus native to the Old World tropics, used for the production of bast fibre and as an infusion. It is an annual or perennial herb or woody-based subshrub, growing to 2–2.5 m (7–8 ft) tall. The leaves are deeply three- to five-lobed, 8–15 cm (3–6 in) long, arranged alternately on the stems.

The flowers are 8–10 cm (3–4 in) in diameter, white to pale yellow with a dark red spot at the base of each petal, and have a stout fleshy calyx at the base, 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) wide, enlarging to 3–3.5 cm (1.2–1.4 in), fleshy and bright red as the fruit matures. It takes about six months to mature.

In Africa, especially the Sahel, roselle is commonly used to make a sugary herbal tea that is commonly sold on the street. The dried flowers can be found in every market. The Carib Brewery Trinidad Limited, a Trinidad and Tobago brewery, produces a Shandy Sorrel in which the tea is combined with beer.

In Thailand, Roselle is drunk as a tea, believed to also reduce cholesterol. It can also be made into a wine - Hibiscus flowers are commonly found in commercial herbal teas, especially teas advertised as berry-flavoured, as they give a bright red colouring to the drink.

In the Caribbean sorrel drink is made from calyces of the roselle. In Malaysia, roselle calyces are harvested fresh to produce pro-health drink due to high contents of vitamin C and anthocyanins. In Mexico, 'agua de Flor de Jamaica' (water flavored with roselle) frequently called "agua de Jamaica" is most often homemade. Also, since many untrained consumers mistake the calyces of the plant to be dried flowers, it is widely, but erroneously, believed that the drink is made from the flowers of the non-existent "Jamaica plant". It is prepared by boiling dried calyces of the Flower of Jamaica plant in water for 8 to 10 minutes (or until the water turns red), then adding sugar. It is often served chilled. This is also done in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago where it is called 'sorrel'. The drink is one of several inexpensive beverages (aguas frescas) commonly consumed in Mexico and Central America, and they are typically made from fresh fruits, juices or extracts. A similar thing is done in Jamaica but additional flavor is added by using ginger and rum, it is a popular drink of the country at Christmas time. It is also very popular in Trinidad & Tobago but the ginger is substituted for cinnamon and cloves for added flavour. In Mali, Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso and Benin calyces are used to prepare cold, sweet drinks popular in social events, often mixed with mint leaves, dissolved menthol candy, and/or various fruit flavors.

With the advent in the U.S. of interest in south-of-the-border cuisine, the calyces are sold in bags usually labeled "Flor de Jamaica" and have long been available in health food stores in the U.S. for making a tea that is high in vitamin C. This drink is particularly good for people who have a tendency, temporary or otherwise, toward water retention: it is a mild diuretic.

In addition to being a popular homemade drink, Jarritos, a popular brand of Mexican soft drinks, makes a Flor de Jamaica flavored carbonated beverage. Imported Jarritos can be readily found in the U.S.

In the UK the dried calyces and ready-made sorrel syrup are widely and cheaply available in Caribbean and Asian grocers. The fresh calyces are imported mainly during December and January in order to make Christmas and New Year infusions, which are often made into cocktails with additional rum. They are very perishable, rapidly developing fungal rot, and need to be used soon after purchase – unlike the dried product, which has a long shelf-life.

In Australia, rosella jam has been made since Colonial times and is still sold regularly at community fetes and charity stalls. It is similar in flavour to plum jam, although more acidic.

Many parts of the plant are also claimed to have various medicinal values. They have been used for such purposes ranging from Mexico through Africa and India to Thailand. Roselle is associated with traditional medicine and is reported to be used as treatment for several diseases such as hypertension and urinary tract infections.

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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Truth about Dandelion Coffee and Tea

Dandelion coffee (also dandelion tea) is an infusion or herbal tea, and coffee substitute, made from the root of the dandelion plant. The roasted dandelion root pieces and the beverage have some resemblance to coffee in appearance and taste.

Dandelion coffee was mentioned in a Harpers New Monthly Magazine story in 1886. In 1919, dandelion root was noted as a source of cheap coffee. It has also been part of edible plant classes dating back at least to the 1970s.

Harvesting dandelion roots requires differentiating 'true' dandelions (Taraxacum spp.) from other yellow daisy-like flowers such as catsear and hawksbeard. True dandelions have a ground-level rosette of deep-toothed leaves and hollow straw-like stems. Large plants that are 3–4 years old, with taproots approximately 0.5 inch (13 mm) in diameter, are harvested for dandelion coffee. These taproots are similar in appearance to pale carrots.

After harvesting, the dandelion roots are dried, chopped, and roasted. They are then ground into granules which are steeped in boiling water to produce dandelion coffee.

Dandelion coffee is said to be a good tonic for the liver. A bitter tonic made from the dandelion root is also used as a laxative.

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A Brief Story about Dandelion

Taraxacum is a large genus of flowering plants in the family Asteraceae. They are native to Eurasia and North America, and two species, T. officinale and T. erythrospermum, are found as weeds worldwide. Both species are edible in their entirety. The common name dandelion (pronounced /ˈdændɨlaɪ.ən/, DAN-dih-lye-ən) is given to members of the genus, and like other members of the Asteraceae family, they have very small flowers collected together into a composite flower head. Each single flower in a head is called a floret. Many Taraxacum species produce seeds asexually by apomixis, where the seeds are produced without pollination, resulting in offspring that are genetically identical to the parent plant.

The flower head is surrounded by bracts (sometimes mistakenly called sepals) in two series. The inner bracts are erect until the seeds mature, then flex downward to allow the seeds to disperse; the outer bracts are always reflexed downward. Some species drop the "parachute" from the achenes; the hair-like parachutes are called pappus, and they are modified sepals. Between the pappus and the achene, there is a stalk called a beak, which elongates as the fruit matures. The beak breaks off from the achene quite easily, separating the seed from the parachute.

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Chrysanthemum Tea for Health Benefits

Chrysanthemum tea has many purported medicinal uses, including an aid in recovery from influenza, acne and as a "cooling" herb. According to traditional Chinese medicine the tisane can aid in the prevention of sore throat and promote the reduction of fever. In Korea, it is known well for its medicinal use for making people more alert and is often used to waken themselves. In western herbal medicine, Chrysanthemum tea is drunk and used as a compress to treat circulatory disorders such as varicose veins and atherosclerosis.

In traditional Chinese medicine, chrysanthemum tea is also used to treat the eyes, and is said to clear the liver and the eyes. It is believed to be effective in treating eye pain associated with stress or yin/fluid deficiency. It is also used to treat blurring, spots in front of the eyes, diminished vision, and dizziness. The liver is associated with the element Wood which rules the eyes and is associated with anger, stress, and related emotions.

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The Unique Sego Lily

The Sego Lily, Calochortus nuttallii, is a bulbous perennial which is endemic to the Western United States. It is the state flower of Utah.

The Sego Lily has 1 to 4 flowers, each with 3 white petals (and 3 sepals) which are tinged with lilac (occasionally magenta) and have a purplish band radiating from the yellow base. These appear in early summer. Plants are around 15–45 cm (6–18 inches) in height and have linear leaves.

The bulbs of this and other Calochortus species were roasted, boiled or made into a porridge by Native Americans and were also used as a food source by the Mormon pioneers in Utah. Currently, it is grown as an ornamental for its attractive tulip-shaped flowers.

The flower was chosen as the state flower of Utah due to its importance in pioneering times and its "natural beauty". It was formally adopted on March 18, 1911.

Sego lilies prefer a deep, sandy soil with good drainage and are cold-hardy. Plants can be propagated from newly-formed bulblets which take two years to flower.

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The Delicious Chrysanthemum Tea

Chrysanthemum tea is a flower-based tisane made from chrysanthemum flowers of the species Chrysanthemum morifolium or Chrysanthemum indicum, which are most popular in East Asia. To prepare the tea, chrysanthemum flowers (usually dried) are steeped in hot water (usually 90 to 95 degrees Celsius after cooling from a boil) in either a teapot, cup, or glass; often rock sugar is also added, and occasionally also wolfberries. The resulting drink is transparent and ranges from pale to bright yellow in color, with a floral aroma. In Chinese tradition, once a pot of chrysanthemum tea has been drunk, hot water is typically added again to the flowers in the pot (producing a tea that is slightly less strong); this process is often repeated several times.

Although typically prepared at home, chrysanthemum tea is also available as a beverage in many Asian restaurants (particularly Chinese ones), and is also available from various drinks outlets in East Asia as well as Asian grocery stores outside Asia in canned or packed form. Due to its medicinal value, it may also be available at Traditional Chinese medicine outlets, often mixed with other ingredients.

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Yucca Flower

Yucca is a genus of perennial shrubs and trees in the agave family, Agavaceae. Its 40-50 species are notable for their rosettes of evergreen, tough, sword-shaped leaves and large terminal panicles of white or whitish flowers. They are native to the hot and dry (arid) parts of North America, Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. Early reports of the species were confused with the cassava (Manihot esculenta).[1] Consequently, Linnaeus mistakenly derived the generic name from the Carib word for the latter, yucca.

Yuccas have a very specialized, mutualistic pollination system, being pollinated by the yucca moth; the insect purposefully transfers the pollen from the stamens of one plant to the stigma of another, and at the same time lays an egg in the flower; the moth larva then feeds on some of the developing seeds, always leaving enough seed to perpetuate the species.

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The Medicinal Purpose of Goldenrod Flower

The variety of Goldenrod known as Solidago virgaurea is used as a traditional kidney tonic. It is used by practitioners of herbal medicine as an agent to counter inflammation and irritation of the kidneys when bacterial infection or stones are present. Goldenrod has also been used as part of a tincture to aid in cleansing of the kidney/bladder during a healing fast, in conjunction with Potassium broth and specific juices. 'Solidago odora' is also sold as a medicinal, for these issues: mucus, kidney/bladder cleansing and stones, colds, digestion. A tea made from the leaves and flowers help heal sore throat, snake bite,fever, kidney and bladder problems, cramps, colic, colds, diarrhea, measles, cough, and asthma. A poultice heals boils, burns, headache, toothache, wounds, and sores.

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The Use and Cultivation of Goldenrod Flower

Parts of some goldenrods can be edible when cooked. Goldenrod is also used as a food plant by the larvae of various Lepidoptera species (see list of Lepidoptera that feed on goldenrods). The invading larva induces the plant to form a bulbous tissue mass (called a gall) around it, upon which the larva then feeds. Various parasitoid wasps find these galls and lay eggs in the larvae, penetrating the bulb with their ovipositor. Woodpeckers have adapted to peck open the galls and eat the insect in the center.

Goldenrods can be used for decoration and making tea. Goldenrods are, in some places, held as a sign of good luck or good fortune; but they are considered weeds in others.

Goldenrods are mostly short-day plants and bloom in late summer and early fall and some species produce abundant nectar when moisture is plentiful before bloom, and the bloom period is relatively warm and sunny. Honey from goldenrods often is dark and strong due to admixtures of other nectars. However when there is a strong honey flow, a light (often water white), spicy-tasting honey is produced. While the bees are ripening the honey there is a rank odor and taste, but finished honey is much milder.

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Facts about Goldenrod

The goldenrod is the state flower of the U.S. states of Kentucky (adopted March 16, 1926) and Nebraska (adopted April 4, 1895). It used to be the state flower of Alabama, being adopted as such on September 6, 1927, but was later rejected in favour of the camellia. Goldenrod was recently named the state wildflower for South Carolina.

In Midwestern states in the mid-twentieth century it was said that when the goldenrod bloomed, it would soon be time to go back to school—the blossoms appeared in mid- to late August, shortly before the traditional start of school on the day after Labor Day.

In Sufjan Stevens' song "Casimir Pulaski Day", the narrator brings goldenrod to his girlfriend upon finding out that she has been diagnosed with bone cancer. Carrie Hamby's song "Solidago" tells the story of Thomas Edison's experiments with making goldenrod a domestic source of rubber that ended with the invention of synthetic rubber during WWII.

The Sweet Goldenrod (Solidago odora) is also the state herb of Delaware as of June 24, 1996.

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Many Purposes of the Globe Artichokes

For Cooking

In the US, large globe artichokes are most frequently prepared for cooking by removing all but 5–10 mm or so of the stem, and (optionally) cutting away about a quarter of each scale with scissors. This removes the thorns on some varieties that can interfere with handling the leaves when eating. Then, the artichoke is boiled or steamed until tender. If boiling, salt can be added to the water, if desired. It may be preferable not to cover the pot while the artichokes are boiled, so that the acids will boil out into the air.
Covered, and particularly cut artichokes can turn brown due to the acids and chlorophyll oxidation. If not cooked immediately, placing them in water lightly acidulated with vinegar or lemon juice prevents the discoloration. Leaves are often removed and eaten one at a time, sometimes dipped in hollandaise, vinegar, butter, mayonnaise, aioli, lemon juice or other sauces. The remaining heart is then eaten, after removal of the inedible "choke".
In Italy, artichoke hearts in oil are the usual vegetable for spring in the 'Four Seasons' pizza (with olives for summer, mushrooms for autumn and prosciutto for winter). In Spain, the more tender younger and smaller artichokes are used. They can be sprinkled with olive oil and left in hot ashes in a barbecue, sauteed in olive oil with garlic, with rice as a paella or sauteed and combined with eggs in a tortilla (frittata). More often cited are the Greek artichokes (à la polita), of which probably the finest examples are to be found on the island of Tinos.
Often thrown away, the core of artichoke stems, once the fibrous exterior has been discarded, are perfectly edible and taste like the artichoke heart.


Artichokes can also be made into a herbal tea; artichoke tea is produced as a commercial product in the Dalat region of Vietnam.


Artichoke is the primary flavor of the Italian liqueur Cynar.

In Medical Uses

The majority of the cynarin found in artichoke is located in the pulp of the leaves, though dried leaves and/or stems of artichoke also contain Cynara which are used to increase bile production. Cynarin, an active constituent in Cynara, causes an increased bile flow. This diuretic vegetable is of nutritional value because of its exhibiting aid to digestion, strengthening of the liver function, gall bladder function, and raising of HDL/LDL ratio. This reduces cholesterol levels, which diminishes the risk for arteriosclerosis and coronary heart disease. Aqueous extracts from artichoke leaves have also shown to reduce cholesterol by inhibiting HMG-CoA reductase and having a hypolipidemic influence, lowering blood cholesterol.

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The Artichoke Flower

The Globe Artichoke (Cynara cardunculus) is a perennial thistle originating in Southern Europe around the Mediterranean. It grows to 1.5–2 m tall, with arching, deeply lobed, silvery glaucous-green leaves 50–82 cm long. The flowers develop in a large head from an edible bud about 8–15 cm diameter with numerous triangular scales; the individual florets are purple. The edible portion of the buds consists primarily of the fleshy lower portions of the involucral bracts and the base, known as the "heart"; the mass of immature florets in the center of the bud is called the "choke". These are inedible in older larger flowers.

Artichokes can be produced from seeds or from vegetative means such as division, root cuttings or micropropagation. Though technically perennials which normally produce the edible flower only during the second and subsequent years, certain varieties of artichoke can be grown from seed as annuals, producing a limited harvest at the end of the first growing season, even in regions where the plants are not normally winter hardy. This means that home gardeners in northern regions can attempt to produce a crop without the need to overwinter plants with special treatment or protection. The recently introduced seed cultivar 'Imperial Star' has been bred to produce in the first year without such measures. An even newer cultivar, 'Northern Star', is said to be able to overwinter in more northerly climates, and readily survive sub-zero temperatures.

It requires good soil, regular watering and feeding plus frost protection in winter. Rooted suckers can be planted each year so that mature specimens can be disposed of after a few years, as each individual plant only lives a few years. The peak season for artichoke harvesting is the spring, but they continue to be harvested throughout the summer, with another peak period in mid autumn.

When harvesting, they are cut from the plant so as to leave an inch or two of stem. Artichokes possess good keeping qualities, frequently remaining quite fresh for two weeks or longer under average retail conditions.

Apart from food use, the Globe Artichoke is also an attractive plant for its bright floral display, sometimes grown in herbaceous borders for its bold foliage and large purple flower heads.

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The Herbal Flower Tea

Herbal teas can be made with fresh or dried flowers, leaves, seeds or roots, generally by pouring boiling water over the plant parts and letting them steep for a few minutes. Seeds and roots can also be boiled on a stove. The tisane is then strained, sweetened if so desired, and served. Many companies produce herbal tea bags for such infusions.

On the other hand, flavoured teas are prepared by adding other plants to an actual tea (black, oolong, green, yellow, or white tea); for example, the popular Earl Grey tea is black tea with bergamot, jasmine tea is Chinese tea with jasmine flowers, and genmaicha is a Japanese green tea with toasted rice.

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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

About Flowers Fertilization

Some flowers with both stamens and a pistil are capable of self-fertilization, which does increase the chance of producing seeds but limits genetic variation. The extreme case of self-fertilization occurs in flowers that always self-fertilize, such as many dandelions. Conversely, many species of plants have ways of preventing self-fertilization. Unisexual male and female flowers on the same plant may not appear or mature at the same time, or pollen from the same plant may be incapable of fertilizing its ovules. The latter flower types, which have chemical barriers to their own pollen, are referred to as self-sterile or self-incompatible.

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The Alternative Use of Flowers

People therefore grow flowers around their homes, dedicate entire parts of their living space to flower gardens, pick wildflowers, or buy flowers from florists who depend on an entire network of commercial growers and shippers to support their trade.

Flowers provide less food than other major plants parts (seeds, fruits, roots, stems and leaves) but they provide several important foods and spices. Flower vegetables include broccoli, cauliflower and artichoke. The most expensive spice, saffron, consists of dried stigmas of a crocus. Other flower spices are cloves and capers. Hops flowers are used to flavor beer. Marigold flowers are fed to chickens to give their egg yolks a golden yellow color, which consumers find more desirable. Dandelion flowers are often made into wine. Bee Pollen, pollen collected from bees, is considered a health food by some people. Honey consists of bee-processed flower nectar and is often named for the type of flower, e.g. orange blossom honey, clover honey and tupelo honey.

Hundreds of fresh flowers are edible but few are widely marketed as food. They are often used to add color and flavor to salads. Squash flowers are dipped in breadcrumbs and fried. Edible flowers include nasturtium, chrysanthemum, carnation, cattail, honeysuckle, chicory, cornflower, Canna, and sunflower. Some edible flowers are sometimes candied such as daisy and rose (you may also come across a candied pansy).

Flowers can also be made into herbal teas. Dried flowers such as chrysanthemum, rose, jasmine, camomile are infused into tea both for their fragrance and medical properties. Sometimes, they are also mixed with tea leaves for the added fragrance.

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The Relationship of Flower & Pollinator

Many flowers have close relationships with one or a few specific pollinating organisms. Many flowers, for example, attract only one specific species of insect, and therefore rely on that insect for successful reproduction. This close relationship is often given as an example of coevolution, as the flower and pollinator are thought to have developed together over a long period of time to match each other's needs.

This close relationship compounds the negative effects of extinction. The extinction of either member in such a relationship would mean almost certain extinction of the other member as well. Some endangered plant species are so because of shrinking pollinator populations.

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Monday, May 17, 2010


Phlox (pronounced /ˈflɒks/ "flocks": Greek φλόξ "flame"; plural "phlox" or "phloxes", Greek φλόγες phlóges) is a genus of 67 species of perennial and annual plants found mostly in North America (one in Siberia) in diverse habitats from alpine tundra to open woodlands and prairies. Some flower in spring, others in summer and fall.

Flowers may be pale blue, violet, pink, bright red, or white.Fertilized flowers typically produce one relatively large seed.

Some species such as P. paniculata (Garden Phlox) grow upright, while others such as P. subulata (Moss Phlox) grow short and matlike.

The foliage of Phlox is sometimes eaten by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Dot Moth, Gazoryctra wielgusi, Hummingbird Hawk-moth and Schinia indiana (which feeds exclusively on P. pilosa). Phlox species are also a popular food source for groundhogs, rabbits and deer.

Several species of phlox are commonly cultivated in gardens. Most cultivated phlox, with the notable exception of Drummond phlox, are perennial. Phlox cultivars are available in shades of white, purple, blue, pink, and yellow. Most are best grown in well-drained soil, exposed to partial shade to partial sun. Phlox are valued in the garden for their ability to attract butterflies.


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Privet was originally the name for the European semi-evergreen shrub Ligustrum vulgare, and later also for the more reliably evergreen Ligustrum ovalifolium (Japanese privet), used extensively for privacy hedging. (It is often suggested that the name privet is related to private, but the OED states that there is no evidence to support this.

The term is now used for all members of the genus Ligustrum, which includes about 40-50 species of evergreen, semi-evergreen or deciduous shrubs and small trees, native to Europe, north Africa, Asia and Australasia, with the centre of diversity in China, the Himalayas, Japan and Taiwan. The generic name originated in Latin and was applied by Pliny the Elder (23 CE – 79) to L. vulgare. The genus is placed in the olive family, Oleaceae.

The flowers are small and fragrant and borne in panicles. They have four curled-back petals and two high stamens with yellow or red anthers, between which is the low pistil; the petals and stamens fall off after the flower is fertilized, leaving the pistil in the calyx tube. Flowering starts after 330 growing degree days. The fruits, borne in clusters, are small purple to black drupes. The fruits of some species are mildly poisonous to humans.


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Mimosa pudica

Mimosa pudica (Sensitive Plant) (pudica = shy), is a creeping annual or perennial herb often grown for its curiosity value: the compound leaves fold inward and droop when touched or shaken, re-opening minutes later. The species is native to South America and Central America, but is now a pantropical weed.

The stem is erect in young plants, but becomes creeping or trailing with age. The stem is slender, branching, and sparsely to densely prickly, growing to a length of 1.5 m (5 ft). The leaves of the mimosa pudica are compound leaves.

The leaves are bipinnately compound, with one or two pinnae pairs, and 10-26 leaflets per pinna. The petioles are also prickly. Pedunculate (stalked) pale pink or purple flower heads arise from the leaf axils. The globose to ovoid heads are 8–10 mm in diameter (excluding the stamens). On close examination, it is seen that the floret petals are red in their upper part and the filaments are pink to lavender.

The fruit consists of clusters of 2-8 pods from 1–2 cm long each, these prickly on the margins. The pods break into 2-5 segments and contain pale brown seeds some 2.5 mm long. The flowers are pollinated by the wind and insects.The seeds have hard seed coats which restricts germination.


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Sunday, May 16, 2010

The History of Flower Wire Service

A floral wire service, also known as a flower relay service is a company established primarily to facilitate order exchange and fulfillment between local florists and/or third-party sales agents of floral products. Floral wire services offer proprietary networks, clearing house services and operate as affiliate marketing schemes.

The first floral wire service, established by a group of 15 US florists in 1910, was Florists' Telegraph Delivery Service (FTD). The group was formed as a cooperative and was mutually owned by its members. Members exchanged orders via telegraph messages and hence the name 'wire service' was used to identify the order exchange business model. In 1965, with the introduction of international order sending, FTD changed its name to Florists' Transworld Delivery.

In the 1920s, a group of British florists formed a similar 'Flowers by Wire' group. This group, also a business cooperative and affiliated with FTD, began operating under the name Interflora in 1953. By the 1970s, most European countries had their own Interflora units.

In addition to the cooperatives, independently owned and operated for-profit companies built their own proprietary networks including Teleflora and 1-800-Flowers with their BloomNet division.

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The Definition of Floral Industry

The floral industry is one of the major industries in many developing and underdeveloped countries. Floriculture as an industry began in the late 1800s in England, where flowers were grown on a large scale on the vast estates. The present day floral industry is a dynamic, global, fast-growing industry, which has achieved significant growth rates during the past few decades. In the 1950s, the global flower trade was less than US$3 billion. By 1992, it had grown to US$100 billion. In recent years, the floral industry has grown six percent annually, while the global trade volume in 2003 was US$101.84 billion.

The floral industry essentially consists of three major components: the growers, the wholesalers and the retailers whose businesses are quite intermingled. The recent trends are more towards eliminating the intermediaries, the wholesalers between the growers and the retailers, so that the flowers are made available at considerably low prices.

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Blue Flower And Its Origin

The Blue Flower (German: Blaue Blume) is a central symbol of Romanticism. It stands for desire, love, and the metaphysical striving for the infinite and unreachable.

Local blue-blooming flowers such as the Chicory or Cornflower are often seen as parallels to the "blue flower."
German author Novalis first used the symbol in his unfinished novel of formation, entitled Heinrich von Ofterdingen. After contemplating a meeting with a stranger, the young Heinrich von Ofterdingen dreams about blue flowers which call to him and absorb his attention. (The Japanese translation of the novel was entitled Aoi Hana (青い花), literally "blue flower", emphasizing the motif.)

The 1995 East German film about Novalis is called Novalis - Die blaue Blume (Novalis - The Blue Flower).

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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Time Out

What activities do we engage in and how do we wind down when burnt-out? How do you relax and hope to recuperate over the weekend in a resort villa? Meet up with friends over coffee? Catch the latest blockbuster movie? Read that latest novel in the comforts of your own homes?

There are so many things to do yet so little time. What will your heart beat be?

Perhaps you have lost touch with your heart and what truly matters? Take a peep into your heart today and see if your life reflects what you truly desire and have worked so hard for.

Know of someone who needs a little pick-me-up? Why not send some beautiful hand bouquet with flower delivery from a florist and watch her smile? Brighten up her day to make it a moment to cherish and to love?

Let your heart speak for once and hear your heartbeat. You will be surprised at what it says.