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Sunday, 25-Jun-2006 05:12 Email | Share | | Bookmark

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Crepe ginger, Malay ginger
Costus speciosus (Zingiberaceae)

Lokasi : Jalan Klang Lama berhampiran New Pantai Expressway, Petaling Jaya.

Crepe ginger is a tall and dramatic landscape plant with large dark green leaves arranged on the stalk in a spiral. This Costus can grow to 10 ft (3.1 m) tall in frost-free areas, but typically grows to about 6 ft (1.8 m) tall in cooler regions where it is root hardy but dies back in winter.

The flowers appear in late summer or early fall, and are quite unusual looking. They form on red 4 in (10.2 cm) cone-shaped bracts, with several 2 in (5 cm) pure white crinkled flowers protruding from each cone. The flowers look like crepe paper - thus the common name of crepe ginger. After the flowers fade away, the attractive red cone-shaped bracts remain.

As beautiful as the species is, there are a number of cultivars of Costus speciosus that are sought after as garden ornamentals. Most are not as hardy as the species and do not grow as tall. The cultivar 'Pink Shadow' is similar to the species but the white flowers are blushed with pink. The cultivar 'Variegatus' has green and white variegated leaves, flowers similar to the species, grows to 5-7 ft (1.5-2.1 m), but is only hardy to zone 9. The cultivar 'Foster Variegated' has reddish stems and broad creamy white striped leaves which are soft and furry to the touch. It only grows to 5 ft (1.5 m) tall and is less likely to flower than the species. The cultivar 'Nova' is a shorter plant, to about 3 ft (0.9 m), and has light green foliage and flowers similar to the species. Another short tetraploid is offered by Stokes Tropicals, and the description is similar to 'Nova'.

NOTE: some taxonomists still classify Costus and related genera in Zingiberaceae, the ginger family.

Costus speciosus is native to the Malay Peninsula of Southeast Asia, but it has naturalized in some tropical areas, including Hawaii. It is listed as a potential invasive plant in the Federated States of Micronesia, Guam, Republic of Palau, and in French Polynesia.

For best results, this plant should get from 3 to 5 hours of direct sunlight daily, and be grown in fertile, organic, moist but well-drained soil. Monthly applications of a balanced fertilizer during the summer growing season will benefit this plant. Generally crepe ginger is pest free.

Crepe ginger grows from thick fleshy roots called "rhizomes", similar in appearance to the "ginger root" found in grocery stores. They may be purchased as potted plants or as bare rhizomes, and they are easy to grow either way. Plant the rhizome about 1 in (2.5 cm) below the surface in a sandy loam or clay soil that has been improved with leaf mold or well composted manure. A single rhizome will produce new shoots and increase to a 3 ft wide clump in the second year under ideal growing conditions.

Light: Prefers part sun but will grow in full sun if it gets plenty of moisture.

Moisture: Requires regular moisture but not standing water.

Hardiness: USDA Zones 7 - 12. This is the most cold-hardy of the spiral gingers, and has been tested and proven root hardy down to 0ºF (-17.8ºC).

Propagation: Pieces of the rhizome, division of the clumps, or stem cuttings. Costaceae are the only gingers that can be propagated by stem cuttings.

Crepe ginger is best used for dramatic effect in a tropical landscape, but also combines well with other tall perennials as a backdrop.

The crepe ginger is beautiful for its bold tropical foliage, and the flowers are just an added bonus. As with most gingers, this plant is easy to grow with virtually no pest problems.

Many gingers have culinary or medicinal uses. This species is not commonly used in western cultures, but the rhizome has been used in India and Southeast Asia to treat boils, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, vertigo, ear, eye, and nose pain, and to stop vomiting.

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Sunday, 25-Jun-2006 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Shukran Jazilan

Alhamdulillah! Syukur ke hadrat Illahi kerana dengan berkat ke izinannya saya dapat meraikan ulangtahun kelahiran ke 39 pada 24 Jun lepas. Masih lagi dapat bernafas dan berkarya, Semoga Allah memberi petunjuk dan hidayah, meningkatkan iman dan taqwa serta memberikan kebahagiaan didunia dan akhirat. ~ Amin

Monday, 19-Jun-2006 10:39 Email | Share | | Bookmark
JARAK / CASTOR BEAN (Ricinus Communis)

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Ricinus Communis

Lokasi : Jalan Batu Gajah - Tanjung Tualang, Perak.

Nama sains bagi pokok jarak ialah Ricinus Communis. Jarak berasal dari benua Afrika. Sekarang pokok jarak banyak terdapat di kawasan tropika. Jarak mempunyai kepentingan tidak sahaja dari segi kesihatan malah dari segi ekonomi. Minyak yang terhasil daripada biji jarak digunakan untuk menyalakan pelita. Walau bagaimanapun, kepentingan pokok jarak tidak mempunyai pasaran lagi. Tetapi dari segi kegunaan dalam perubatan tradisional jarak amat penting sekali. Semua bahagian pokok jarak boleh dibuat ubat.

Antara kegunaan jarak ialah, daunnya yang segar jika dipanaskan boleh mengubati penyakit gout, reumatisme, sakit kepala, ulser dan sesak nafas. Orang China menggunakan biji jarak untuk mengubati uterus atau rektum yang terkeluar dengan dihancurkan dan digosok di kepala. Jika digosok pada tapak kaki, ia boleh merangsang plasenta keluar selepas bersalin. Biji jarak juga dijadikan ubat sakit kepala, pekak, tibi, penyakit kulit, berak berdarah, buasir, bengkak-bengkak, penyakit buah pinggang, perangsang buang air besar dan juga merangsang proses bersalin. Akar dan daun digunakan sebagai ubat lumpuh saraf pada muka, tetanus, sawan, sakit sendi dan pelbagai penyakit kulit.

Di Amerika Tengah, terdapat amalan memakan dua atau tiga biji jarak sebagai perangsang untuk membuang air besar. Minyak yang diperoleh daripada biji jarak juga ditelan sebagai julap. Di Guatemala, biji jarak dicampur dengan turpentin dan ditelan untuk membunuh cacing pita di dalam perut. Di Bahamas dan Caicos, minyak dari biji jarak ditelan untuk mengubati selesema dan juga menjadi tonik bagi kanak-kanak dan ibu yang baru bersalin. Di Trinidad, minyak jarak ditelan oleh ibu yang sedang mengandung dan selepas bersalin untuk merangsang buang air besar. Di Curacao, minyak jarak digunakan sebagai ubat sapu untuk mengubati bengkak-bengkak pada badan. Di Mexico, daun jarak yang telah disalai dilekapkan pada payudara ibu yang menyusui anak untuk merangsang pengaliran susu. Ia juga berkesan untuk mengubati penyakit reumatisme dan tumor yang teruk.

Daun pokok yang segar ini jika dibalut pada kepala boleh melegakan sakit kepala dan demam panas. Selain itu daun yang ditumbuk berguna untuk mengatasi sakit perut dan juga ditampal pada bisul dan kudis. Di Yucatan, daun jarak ditampal pada badan untuk merangsang peluh supaya dapat mengatasi demam panas. Manakala daun yang disapu minyak kelapa atau minyak salad dipercayai boleh mengatasi kejang otot dan bengkak di kaki dengan cara dibalut pada bahagian kaki yang bengkak. Di samping itu ia juga digunakan untuk mengatasi sakit gigi.

Di Brazil, air rebusan daun jarak digunakan untuk mengecutkan buasir dengan berendam di dalam airnya. Air rebusan ini juga boleh diminum untuk mengatasi masalah kolon. Di Cuba pula ia digunakan untuk merangsang buang air kecil dan mengatasi masalah kelenjar prostat yang bengkak. Manakala di Jamaica, ia digunakan untuk mengatasi bengkak-bengkak sendi. Di Bermuda pula daun yang ditumbuk lumat di sapu pada gusi yang bengkak.

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Monday, 12-Jun-2006 13:57 Email | Share | | Bookmark
TERATAI / LOTUS (Nymphaea)

TERATAI / LOTUS (Nymphaea)
TERATAI / LOTUS (Nymphaea)
TERATAI / LOTUS (Nymphaea)
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Lokasi : Lombong Tinggal, Batu Gajah, Perak

The lotus is an Asian water lily known for the delicate beauty of its water flowers. It possesses an amazing ability to flourish in a variety of environments ranging from clear ponds to muddy marshes. It is also known for its exceptionally hearty seed pods, which often plant themselves far from its source, bringing the beauty of the lotus blossoms everywhere.

Most seeds remain quiescent during a cold or dry season and germinate only with the coming of favorable growing conditions. Seeds that require special treatment to germinate, even when presented with adequate water and oxygen and favorable temperatures, are said to exhibit dormancy. Seeds with thick or waxy coats, which inhibit the entry of water and oxygen, may remain in a prolonged quiescent state. Seeds of the Indian lotus can germinate 200 years after they are shed. Most seeds, however, lose the ability to germinate within several years of shedding. Following the return of the rains, primitive peoples witnessed the rise of the undefiled water lily from the bottom of dried-up watercourses and considered the living blooms symbols of immortality and resurrection. The ancient Egyptians from the 4th dynasty greatly valued the sacred lotus, N. totus, in religious ceremonies and funerals.

Lotuses are 5 species of water lilies, three in the genus Nymphaea and two in Nelumbo; both genera are members of the water-lily family, Nymphaeaceae. Lotus is also the name of a genus in the pea family, Leguminosae, which contains such plants as the bird's-foot trefoil, Lotus corniculatus. Nymphaea lotus, the Egyptian white lotus, is believed to be the original sacred lotus of ancient Egypt. It and the Egyptian blue lotus, N. caerulea, were often pictured in ancient Egyptian art.

The white lotus is a shallow-water, night-blooming plant with a creeping rootstock (rhizome) that sends up long-stalked, nearly circular, dark green leathery leaves, which float on the surface. The flowers, up to 25 cm (10 in) across, remain open until midday. The blue lotus is a smaller, less showy day-blooming plant.

The East Indian lotus, N. nucifera, found in southern Asia, was introduced into Egypt about 2,500 years ago but is no longer found in the Nile region. Its flowers are considered sacred by the Buddhists of India, Tibet, and China. The lotus, Nymphaea lotus, bears many-seeded, berrylike fruit and leathery, floating leaves that may reach 50 cm (20 in) across. The cup-shaped flowers of the lotus were often represented in ancient Egyptian art and architecture.

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Thursday, 8-Jun-2006 09:48 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Bunga Kantan / Torch Ginger (Etlingera elatior )

Torch Ginger (Bunga Kantan)
Torch Ginger (Bunga Kantan)
Torch Ginger (Bunga Kantan)
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Bunga Kantan
Torch Ginger
Etlingera elatior

Lokasi : Tepi Jalan, Gopeng, Perak

The torch ginger or wax flower (Etlingera elatior (Jack) R.M. Smith) is believed native to Sulawesi (Celebes) and Jawa, Indonesia (Java). The plant is now grown in many tropical locations both for the extravagant 'flowers' and for food. In Malaysia, it is called kantan. The peduncles (stems) of the inflorescence are chopped and added to laksa pots (various curries or soups made with rice noodles).

The spectacular inflorescence rises from the rhizome to a height of 60 centimeters (24 inches) to more than a meter (40 inches). The individual flowers will appear from between the pinecone-like scales above the waxy bracts. The leaves grow in ranks from separate stalks along the rhizome. The leafy stalks are evergreen and get 4.5 to 6 meters (15 to 20 feet) tall. Note that in the photograph, the inflorescence is just starting to expand and the leaves are dried having been subjected to cold temperatures and winds.

Torch ginger has had numerous generic designations through the years: Alpinia, Phaeomoria, Nicolaia, and Elettaria. The taxonomy was tangled and confusing. And it was believed the genus contained only a handful of species.

In the 1980s, Rosemary Margaret Smith of the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh tackled the gingers and determined this plant belonged to Etlingera, a genus first described in 1792 by Paul Dietrich Giseke. Since then, Axel Dalberg Poulsen of the National Herbarium of the Netherlands has dedicated his studies to these glorious plants. He has discovered there are at least 70 species, many not yet described, spread from India to the Pacific Islands.

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