Eugenia uniflora

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The Surinam Cherry, Brazilian Cherry, or Cayenne Cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is a plant in the family Myrtaceae, native to tropical South America’s east coast from Suriname to southern Brazil.[1] Known as Pitanga throughout Brazil or Ñangapirí in surrounding countries, it is a large shrub or small tree with a conical form, growing slowly to 8 meters in height. The leaves are glossy green, up to 4 cm long, and new leaves are copper-colored. Fragrant white flowers mature into reddish fruits up to 2 cm in diameter. The taste ranges from sweet to sour, depending on the cultivar and level of ripeness (the darker red to black range is quite sweet, while the green to orange range is strikingly tart). The plant is relatively pest resistant, easy to grow and high in antioxidants.[2] The Surinam Cherry is often used in gardens as a hedge or screen. The fruit is high in Vitamin C, and its predominant food use is as a flavoring and base for jams and jellies. The tree was introduced to Bermuda for ornamental purposes but is now out of control and listed as an invasive species in Bermuda.[3]

For Brazilian Cherry also see Jatobá.

  • Eugenia uniflora

  • Eugenia uniflora

  • Eugenia uniflora

  • Eugenia uniflora -young leaves

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Passiflora edulis

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Passiflora edulis is a vine species of passion flower that is native to Brazil, Paraguay and northern Argentina (Corrientes and Misiones provinces, among others). Its common names include passion fruit (UK and US), passionfruit (Australia and New Zealand), and purple granadilla (South Africa).

It is cultivated commercially in warmer, frost-free areas for its fruit and is widely grown in Argentina, Australia, Bolivia, Brazil, the Caribbean, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, East Africa, Ecuador, Haiti, Hawaii, India, Indonesia, Israel, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, Portugal (Madeira), Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, South Africa, United States (California and Florida), Venezuela and Philippines.

The passion fruit is round to oval, either yellow or dark purple at maturity, with a soft to firm, juicy interior filled with numerous seeds. The fruit is both eaten and juiced; passion fruit juice is often added to other fruit juices to enhance the aroma.[1]

Contents

Varieties

Several distinct varieties of passion fruit with clearly differing exterior appearances exist. The bright yellow flavicarpa variety, also known as the Golden Passion Fruit, can grow up to the size of a grapefruit, has a smooth, glossy, light and airy rind, and has been used as a rootstock for the Purple Passion Fruit in Australia.[2] The dark purple edulis variety is smaller than a lemon, though it is less acidic than the yellow passion fruit, and has a richer aroma and flavour.

The purple varieties of the fruit have been found to contain traces of cyanogenic glycosides in the skin.[3]

Uses

A Passion fruit vine

  • In Australia and New Zealand, where it is called “passionfruit”, it is available commercially both fresh and tinned. It is added to fruit salads, and fresh fruit pulp or passion fruit sauce is commonly used in desserts, including as a topping for pavlova (a regional meringue cake) and ice cream, a flavouring for cheesecake, and in the icing of vanilla slices. A passionfruit-flavoured soft drink called Passiona has also been manufactured in Australia since the 1920s.
  • In Brazil passion fruit mousse is a common dessert, and passion fruit seeds are routinely used to decorate the tops of cakes. Passion fruit juice is also widely used. When making Caipirinha, it is usual to use passion fruit instead of lime; it is then called “caipifruta de maracujá”. It is used also as a mild sedative, and its active ingredient is commercialized under several brands, most notably Maracugina.
  • In Colombia it is one of the most important fruits, especially for juices and desserts. It is widely available all over the country and three kinds of “Maracuyá” fruit may be found.
  • In the Dominican Republic, where it is locally called chinola, it is used to make juice and Fruit preserves. Passion fruit-flavoured syrup is used on shaved ice, and the fruit is also eaten raw, sprinkled with sugar.
  • In Hawaii passion fruit is locally called liliko’i and comes in yellow and purple varieties.
Passion fruit can be cut in half and the seeds scooped out with a spoon. Lilikoi-flavoured syrup is a popular topping for shaved ice. It is used as a desert flavoring for malasadas, cheesecakes, cookies, ice cream and mochi. Passion fruit is also favoured as a jam or jelly, as well as a butter. Most passion fruit comes from backyard gardens or is collected from the wild. While it may be found at farmers’ markets throughout the islands, fruits are seldom sold in grocery stores.
  • In Indonesia there are two types of passionfruit (local name: ‘markisa’), white flesh and yellow flesh. The white one is normally eaten straight as a fruit, while the yellow variety is commonly strained to obtain its juice, which is cooked with sugar to make thick syrup. Bottles or plastic jugs of concentrated syrup (generally produced in Sumatra from fruit grown in the Lake Toba region[citation needed]) are sold in many supermarkets. Dilution of one part syrup to four (or more) parts water is recommended.

Wine, or ‘sicar’, made from passion fruit at a winery in Israel

  • In Israel passion fruit is used to make wine, or ‘sicar’.
  • In Mexico passion fruit is used to make juice or is eaten raw with chilli powder and lime.
  • In Paraguay passion fruit is used principally for its juice, to prepare desserts such as passion fruit mousse, cheesecake, ice cream, and to flavour yogurts and cocktails.
  • In Peru passion fruit is used in several desserts, especially cheesecakes. Passion fruit juice is also drunk on its own and is used in ceviche variations and in cocktails, including the Maracuyá Sour, a variation of the Pisco Sour.
  • In the Philippines passion fruit is commonly sold in public markets and in public schools. Some vendors sell the fruit with a straw to enable sucking out of the seeds and juices inside. It is not very popular because of its sour flavour, and the fruit is very seasonal.
  • In Portugal, especially the Azores and Madeira, passion fruit is used as a base for a variety of liqueurs and mousses.
  • In Puerto Rico, where the fruit is known as “Parcha”, it is widely believed to lower blood pressure,[4] probably because it contains harmala alkaloids and is a mild RIMA.[citation needed] Passion fruit juice is also very common there and is used in juices, ice cream or pastries.

Passion fruit Flower – the national flower of Paraguay

  • In South Africa passion fruit, known locally as Granadilla (the yellow variety as Guavadilla), is used to flavour yogurt. It is also used to flavour soft drinks such as Schweppes‘ “Sparkling Granadilla” and numerous cordial drinks. It is often eaten raw or used as a topping for cakes and tarts. Granadilla juice is commonly available in restaurants. The yellow variety is used for juice processing, while the purple variety is sold in fresh-fruit markets.
  • In Sri Lanka passion fruit juice, along with faluda, is one of the most popular refreshments. Passion fruit cordial is manufactured both at home as well as industrially by mixing the pulp with sugar. There are many cordial manufacturers, suppliers and exporters in the country.[5]
  • In Thailand passion fruit is called “Saowarot” (Thai: เสาวรส). The fruit is eaten whole and is also commonly juiced and drunk. Young shoots are cooked in curries or eaten with nam phrik.[citation needed]
  • In the United States it is often used as an ingredient in juice mixes.
  • In Vietnam passion fruit is blended with honey and ice to create refreshing smoothies.
  • In Cambodia passion fruit is called “Machu Bey-darch” (ម្ចូរបីដាជ) and the plants wine are growing in wild and bushes with green to yellow round shape fruits measured from 2.5cm-4cm when ripe. It is a wild variety of passion fruit and taste slightly different but remains quite sour.

Nutrition

Passion-fruit, (maracuya), purple, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
Energy 406 kJ (97 kcal)
Carbohydrates 23.38 g
Sugars 11.20 g
Dietary fibre 10.4 g
Fat 0.70 g
Protein 2.20 g
Vitamin A equiv. 64 μg (8%)
Riboflavin (vit. B2) 0.130 mg (11%)
Niacin (vit. B3) 1.500 mg (10%)
Folate (vit. B9) 14 μg (4%)
Vitamin C 30.0 mg (36%)
Calcium 12 mg (1%)
Iron 1.60 mg (12%)
Magnesium 29 mg (8%)
Phosphorus 68 mg (10%)
Potassium 348 mg (7%)
Zinc 0.10 mg (1%)
Nutrient values and weights are for edible portion.
Percentages are relative to
US recommendations for adults.
Source: USDA Nutrient Database

Fresh passion fruit is high in beta carotene, potassium, and dietary fibre. Passion fruit juice is a good source of ascorbic acid (vitamin C),[6] and good for people who have high blood pressure.[7] Some research is showing that purple passion fruit peel may help with controlling asthma symptoms.[8] The fruit contains Lycopene in the mature and immature pericarp.[9]

Culture

The Passion fruit is so called because it is one of the many species of Passion Flower. (“Passion Flower” being the literal English translation of the Latin genus name, Passiflora). The name was given by Spanish missionaries to South America as an expository aid while trying to convert the indigenous inhabitants to Christianity. One ingenious expository device was using parallels between the parts of this common South American flower and elements of the account of the torture (the Passion) of Christ prior to his crucifixion. The missionaries said that:

  • The three stigmas reflect the three nails in Jesus‘s hands and feet.
  • The threads of the passion flower resemble the Crown of Thorns.
  • The vine’s tendrils are likened to the whips.
  • The five anthers represented the five wounds.
  • The ten petals and sepals regarded to resemble the Apostles (excluding Judas and Peter).
  • The purple petals representing the purple robe used to mock Jesus’ claim to kingship (Mt. 27:28)

The flower of the passion fruit is the national flower of Paraguay.

See also

Gallery

  • Three varieties of passion fruit

  • A purple passion fruit

  • Cross-section of a purple passion fruit

  • Yellow maracuya harvested (P. edulis var. flavicarpa)

  • Purple passion fruits harvested

  • Size difference between yellow and purple passion fruits

  • Red, yellow, and green fruits ligned up like a traffic light

  • Passion fruit on the vine

  • Flower of Passiflora edulis forma flavicarpa

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Guava

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Guavas (singular Guava, English pronunciation: /ˈgwɑː.və/[2]) are plants in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae) genus Psidium (meaning “pomegranate” in Latin),[3] which contains about 100 species of tropical shrubs and small trees. They are native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Guavas are now cultivated and naturalized throughout the tropics and subtropics in Africa, South Asia, Southeast Asia, the Caribbean, subtropical regions of North America, New Zealand and Australia.

Contents

Types

The most frequently eaten species, and the one often simply referred to as “the guava”, is the Apple Guava (Psidium guajava).[citation needed]

Guavas are typical Myrtoideae, with tough dark leaves that are opposite, simple, elliptic to ovate and 5–15 centimetres (2.0–5.9 in) long. The flowers are white, with five petals and numerous stamens.

The genera Accara and Feijoa (= Acca, Pineapple Guava) were formerly included in Psidium.[citation needed]

Common names

Bengal guava-flower

The term “guava” appears to derive from Arawak guayabo “guava tree”, via the Spanish guayaba. It has been adapted in many European and Asian languages, having a similar form.

Another term for guavas is pera, derived from pear. It is common around the western Indian Ocean and probably derives from Spanish or Portuguese. In some Middle-Eastern regions, guava is also called amrood, possibly a variant of armoot meaning “pear” in Arabic and Turkish languages.

Ecology

Apple Guava (Psidium guajava) flower

Psidium species are used as food plants by the caterpillars of some Lepidoptera, mainly moths like the Ello Sphinx (Erinnyis ello), Eupseudosoma aberrans, E. involutum, and Hypercompe icasia. Mites like Pronematus pruni and Tydeus munsteri are known to parasitize the Apple Guava (P. guajava) and perhaps other species. The bacterium Erwinia psidii causes rot diseases of the Apple Guava.

The fruit is not only relished by humans, but by many mammals and birds as well. The spread of introduced guavas owes much to this fact, since animals eat the fruit and disperse the seeds in their droppings.

In several tropical regions, including Hawaii, some species (namely Strawberry Guava, P. littorale, and to a lesser extent Apple Guava) have become invasive species. On the other hand, several species have become very rare due to habitat destruction and at least one (Jamaican Guava, P. dumetorum), is already extinct.

Guava wood is used for meat smoking in Hawaii and is used at barbecue competitions across the United States. In Cuba and Mexico the leaves are used in barbecues.

A full size guava tree in Oaxaca, Mexico

Fruit

Guavas in Larkana, Pakistan

Guava fruit, usually 4 to 12 centimetres (1.6 to 4.7 in) long, are round or oval depending on the species. The outer skin may be rough, often with a bitter taste, or soft and sweet. Varying between species, the skin can be any thickness, is usually green before maturity, but becomes yellow, maroon, or green when ripe.

Guava fruit generally have a pronounced and typical fragrance, similar to lemon rind but less sharp. Guava pulp may be sweet or sour, tasting something between pear and strawberry, off-white (“white” guavas) to deep pink (“red” guavas), with the seeds in the central pulp of variable number and hardness, depending on species.

Range

Guavas are cultivated in many tropical and subtropical countries. Several species are grown commercially; apple guava and its cultivars are those most commonly traded internationally.

Psidium guajava 1-year seedling

Mature trees of most species are fairly cold-hardy and can survive temperatures slightly colder than 25 °F (−4 °C) for short periods of time, but younger plants will likely freeze to the ground.[4]

Strawberry guava, 1 year old seedling

Guavas are also of interest to home growers in temperate areas. They are one of the few tropical fruits that can grow to fruiting size in pots indoors. When grown from seed, guavas can bear fruit as soon as two years, or as long as eight years.

Culinary uses

In Hawaii, guava is eaten with soy sauce and vinegar. Occasionally, a pinch of sugar and black pepper are added to the mixture. The fruit is diced and dipped into the sauce.

In Mexico, the guava agua fresca beverage is popular. The entire fruit is a key ingredient in punch, and the juice is often used in culinary sauces (hot or cold), as well as artisan candies, dried snacks, fruit bars, desserts, or dipped in Chamoy. Pulque de Guava is a popular blend of the native alcoholic beverage.

In many countries, guava is eaten raw, typically cut into quarters with a pinch of salt and pepper, cayenne powder or masala. It is known as the winter national fruit of Pakistan. In the Philippines, ripe guava is used in cooking sinigang. Guava is a popular snack in Taiwan, sold on many street corners and night markets during hot weather. In east Asia, guava is commonly eaten with sweet and sour dried plum powder mixtures. Guava juice is popular in many countries. The fruit is also often prepared in fruit salads.

Because of its high level of pectin, guavas are extensively used to make candies, preserves, jellies, jams, and marmalades (such as Brazilian goiabada and Colombian and Venezuelan bocadillo), and also for juices and aguas frescas or may be used in a marmalade jam on toast.

Red guavas can be used as the base of salted products such as sauces, substituting for tomatoes, especially to minimize acidity. A drink may be made from an infusion of guava fruits and leaves which in Brazil is called chá-de-goiabeira, i.e. “tea” of guava tree leaves, considered medicinal.

Ripe apple guavas for sale in Bangalore, India

Nutritional value

Guavas are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins A and C, folic acid, and the dietary minerals, potassium, copper and manganese. Having a generally broad, low-calorie profile of essential nutrients, a single common guava (P. guajava) fruit contains about four times the amount of vitamin C as an orange.[5]

However, nutrient content varies across guava cultivars. Although the strawberry guava (P. littorale var. cattleianum) has about 25% of the amount found in more common varieties, its total vitamin C content in one serving (90 mg) still provides 100% of the Dietary Reference Intake for adult males.[6]

‘Thai maroon’ guavas, a red apple guava cultivar, rich in carotenoids and polyphenols

Guavas contain both carotenoids and polyphenols like (+)-gallocatechin,[7] guaijaverin, leucocyanidin and amritoside[8]–the major classes of antioxidant pigments – giving them relatively high potential antioxidant value among plant foods.[9] As these pigments produce the fruit skin and flesh color, guavas that are red-orange have more pigment content as polyphenol, carotenoid and pro-vitamin A, retinoid sources than yellow-green ones.[10]

Green apple guavas are less rich in pigment antioxidants

Common Guava, per 165 g of individual fruit portion
Calories 112
Moisture 133 g
Dietary Fiber 8.9 g (36%)
Protein 4.2 g (8%)
Fat 1.6 g (2%)
Ash 2.3 g
Carbohydrates 23.6 g (8%)
Calcium 30 mg (3%)
Phosphorus 66 mg (7%)
Iron 0.4 mg (2%)
Potassium 688 mg (20%)
Copper 0.4 mg (19%)
Beta-carotene (Vitamin A) 1030 IU (21%)
Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) 377 mg (628%)
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) 0.1 mg (7%)
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) 0.1 mg (4%)
Niacin (Vitamin B3) 1.8 mg (9%)
Folic acid 81 mcg (20%)

% Daily Value in parentheses. Nutrient data source: US Department of Agriculture National Nutrient Database from Nutritiondata.com

Potential medical uses

This section needs more medical references for verification or relies too heavily on primary sources. Please review the contents of the section and add the appropriate references if you can. Unsourced or poorly sourced material may be removed. (September 2012)
Rod of asclepius.png

Since the 1950s, guavas – particularly the leaves – have been the subject for diverse research on their constituents, pharmacological properties and history in folk medicine.[11] Most research, however, has been conducted on apple guava (P. guajava), with other species remaining unstudied. From preliminary medical research in laboratory models, extracts from apple guava leaves or bark are implicated in therapeutic mechanisms against cancer, bacterial infections, inflammation and pain.[12][13][14] Essential oils from guava leaves display anti-cancer activity in vitro.[15]

Guava leaves are used in folk medicine as a remedy for diarrhea[16] and, as well as the bark, for their supposed antimicrobial properties and as an astringent. Guava leaves or bark are used in traditional treatments against diabetes.[17][18][19] In Trinidad, a tea made from young leaves is used for diarrhea, dysentery and fever.[20]

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Pomelo

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The pomelo (Citrus maxima or Citrus grandis, alternative spellings include pummelo and pommelo, also known as shaddock[1]) is a crisp citrus fruit native to South and Southeast Asia. It is usually pale green to yellow when ripe, with sweet white (or, more rarely, pink or red) flesh and very thick albedo (rind pith). It is the largest citrus fruit, 15–25 centimetres (5.9–9.8 in) in diameter,[2] and usually weighing 1–2 kilograms (2.2–4.4 lb).

Contents

Etymology, cultivation and uses

The pomelo is native to Southeast Asia[3] and is known there under a wide variety of names. In large parts of South East Asia, it is a popular dessert, often eaten raw sprinkled with or dipped in salt mixture. It is also eaten in salads or together with yogurt, and sometimes pickled.

The pomelo tastes like a sweet, mild grapefruit (which is itself believed to be a hybrid of the pomelo and the orange[4]), though the typical pomelo is much larger in size than the grapefruit. It has very little, or none, of the common grapefruit’s bitterness, but the enveloping membranous material around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, and thus usually is discarded. The peel is sometimes used to make marmalade, can be candied and sometimes dipped in chocolate or, in China, is used in stir-fry with pork.[5] Pomelos are usually grafted onto other citrus rootstocks, but can be grown from seed, provided the seeds are not allowed to dry out before planting. The seedlings take about eight years to start blooming and yielding fruit.[citation needed]

The etymology of the word “pomelo” is uncertain. It is thought to perhaps be an alteration of pampelmoes (“shaddock”) or alternatively, perhaps an alteration of a compound of pome (“apple”) + melon.[6]

The town of Tambun in Perak, Malaysia is particularly famous for pomelos.[citation needed] The two varieties are a sweet kind, which has white flesh, and a sour kind, which has pinkish flesh and is more likely to be used as an altar decoration than actually eaten. Pomelos are often eaten during the mid-autumn festival or mooncake festival; in Asia. They are normally eaten fresh.[citation needed]

Pomelo seedling

The fruit is said to have been introduced to Japan by a Cantonese captain in the An’ei era (1772–1781).[7] The Chinese use pomelo leaves in a ritual bath, which they believe helps to cleanse a person and repel evil.[citation needed]

It is one of the ingredients of Forbidden Fruit, a liqueur dating back to the early 20th century that also contains honey and brandy. This liqueur is most famously used in the Dorchester cocktail.

In rural areas in Assam, children often use pomelos as footballs.[citation needed]

In Manipur, the fruit is used as a major source of vitamin C. This fruit holds a high place in the culture and tradition of Manipur.[citation needed]

Hybrids

The tangelo is a hybrid between the pomelo and the tangerine. It has a thicker skin than a tangerine and is less sweet. The Oroblanco is a hybrid between the pomelo and the grapefruit, the grapefruit itself being a hybrid between pomelo and the sweet orange. Mandelos are another pomelo hybrid.

Gallery

  • Whole ripe pomelo from Kerala (South India)

  • South Indian pomelo cut in half

  • Pomelos

  • Pomelo after being cut

  • Sectioned pomelo

  • Flesh of a pomelo

  • Pomelo on tree

  • Ipoh pomelos on sale at Chinatown, Singapore

  • Fruit on tree; from the Philippines

  • Pomelo flower in early April

  • Yam som-o: spicy Thai pomelo salad with tamarind juice

  • Tam som-o nam pu: spicy Thai pomelo salad with crab extract

  • Fujian‘s Pinghe County is famous in China for its pomelos

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Paulownia

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Paulownia is a genus of from 6 to 17 species (depending on taxonomic authority) of plants in the family Paulowniaceae, related to and sometimes included in the Scrophulariaceae. They are native to much of China, south to northern Laos and Vietnam, and long cultivated elsewhere in eastern Asia, notably in Japan and Korea (오동나무). They are deciduous trees 12–15 m (40–50 ft) tall, with large, heart-shaped leaves 15–40 cm across, arranged in opposite pairs on the stem. The flowers are produced in early spring on panicles 10–30 cm long, with a tubular purple corolla resembling a foxglove flower. The fruit is a dry capsule, containing thousands of minute seeds.

Paulownia fortunei flowers and bark

The genus, originally Pavlovnia but now usually spelled Paulownia, was named in honour of Queen Anna Pavlovna of The Netherlands (1795–1865), daughter of Tsar Paul I of Russia. It is also called “princess tree” for the same reason. [1]

Paulownia fortunei is an extremely fast-growing tree, grown commercially for production of hardwood timber. P. fortunei and hybrids containing P. fortunei, have been the main focus of genetic improvement since 1988 by Toad Gully Growers, a specialist Paulownia propagation nursery based in Australia who supply planting stock worldwide. P. fortunei generally displays better apical dominance than other Paulownia species along with greater adaptability to a wide range of soil types and climates.

Paulownia tomentosa is listed as an invasive species in the southeastern United States, having been introduced there as an ornamental tree for its decorative flowers.[2]

Contents

Uses

It is popular in its native China for reforestation, roadside planting and as an ornamental tree. Books[which?] say it grows well in a wide variety of soil types, notably poor ones, and needs a lot of light and usually does not like high water tables. Paulownia timber is a pale, whitish coloured wood with a straight grain, but it can also be silver grey, light brown or reddish. Its characteristics of rot resistance and a very high ignition point ensures the timber’s popularity in the world market. Paulownia grown on plantations generally has widely spaced growth rings and is therefore much less valuable. The wood is also important in China, Korea, and Japan for making the soundboards of stringed musical instruments such as the guqin, guzheng, pipa, koto, and kayagum.

Testing by CSIRO in Australia has shown that Paulownia wood is very attractive for wood-boring insects.[3] Paulownia species are also used as food plants by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Endoclita excrescens.

This paulownia flower pattern (go-shichi-no-kiri) is the symbol of the Office of the Prime Minister of Japan

Paulownia is known in Japanese as kiri (), specifically referring to P. tomentosa; it is also known as the “princess tree”. It was once customary to plant a Paulownia tree when a baby girl was born, and then to make it into a dresser as a wedding present when she married. Paulownia is the mon of the office of prime minister and also serves as the emblem of the cabinet and the government (vis-à-vis the chrysanthemum being the Imperial Seal of Japan). It is one of the suits in hanafuda, associated with the month of December. Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (page 1189; Tokyo: Kodansha, 1993. ISBN 4-06-931098-3) states:

Paulownia wood is very light, fine-grained, soft, and warp-resistant and is used for chests, boxes, and clogs (geta). Its low silica content reduces dulling of blades, making it a preferred wood for boxes to hold fine Japanese edge tools. The wood is burned to make charcoal for sketching and powder for fireworks, the bark is made into a dye, and the leaves are used in vermicide preparations. The silvery-grey wood is sliced into veneers for special visiting cards.[4]

A Japanese Kobundō (小分銅), 95-97% gold, “Paulownia” Kiri mark (桐), Kikubana (菊花) emblem, 373.11 grams, Japan.

These fine grained, soft and warp-resistant properties also make Paulownia wood exceptionally suited for making wooden surfboards. Tom Wegener of Noosa, Australia, his brother Jon of Hermosa Beach, California, and more recently “Empress Surfboards” are amongst the shapers who pioneered its use.[citation needed] Unlike those made from balsa wood, the resulting surfboards do not need to be glassed.

More recently, it is used as body material for low-cost electric guitars and as the core for lightweight touring skis. It is often used in guitars as the core body, then laminated under a more durable wood, such as the Dean ML XM that is made of Paulownia as the body but is topped with mahogany.

Paulownia is extremely fast growing; up to 20 feet in one year when young. Some species of plantation Paulownia can be harvested for saw timber in as little as five years. Once the trees are harvested, they regenerate from their existing root systems, earning them the name of the “Phoenix tree.” Paulownia has the ability to reclaim ecologically stressed and degenerate patches of land relatively quickly.

Recently, Paulownia has received a great deal of interest for its environmental properties and has been put forward as a potential solution to the global deforestation problem which lies at the heart of the climate change debate. It is being used as a reforestation tree in several countries, including Australia, Germany, China, the USA and Panama. Reforestation projects using the species are being run by organizations such as EcoTech Timber, Inc, ECO2 International, Robinia Invest, Eco Sustainable Systems, Silva Tree and Kiri Park Projects spurred by Paulownia’s fast growth and additional environmental benefits.

Paulownia has also proved to increase food production when used for intercropping and to prevent soil erosion. A large reforestation project in China increased food production in the Yellow River and Yangtse flood plains and halted erosion on approximately 3.15 million ha (12,200 sq mi) of land.

As a forestry crop Paulownia are exacting in their requirements, performing well only in very well draining soil, with summer rainfall or availability of irrigation water. A great deal of trialling and development by the pioneers of a Paulownia industry in Australia, Joe Virtanen of Australian Paulownia Trees and Plantations and James Lawrence of Toad Gully Growers, has shown there is a lot that can be done toward ensuring a successful plantation; primarily through selection of top genetics and improving the growing conditions, such as cultivation to increase drainage and adding fertiliser and irrigation.

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Vermicomposting

Vermicomposting uses earthworms to turn organic wastes into very high quality compost. This is probably the best way of composting kitchen wastes. Adding small amounts of wet kitchen scraps to a large compost pile in the garden day by day can disrupt the decomposition process so that the compost is never really done. But it works just fine with vermicomposting.

Many gardeners use vermicomposting systems for all their garden and kitchen wastes, many more use both types of composting, and thousands of households without gardens use neat and unobtrusive worm boxes indoors to compost their kitchen scraps (as well as newspapers and cardboard boxes), reducing their garbage by up to a third and providing their own organic soil for pot plants and container gardens on balconies and roofs to grow their own healthy food.

See “Friend Earthworm: Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits of the Most Important Animal in the World” by George Sheffield Oliver, 1941 — one of the all-time classics on the earthworm. Dr Oliver was one of the first to harness the earthworm to the needs of the farmer and gardener, making highly fertile topsoil for optimum crop growth, and producing a constant supply of cheap, high-grade, live protein to feed poultry. He devised simple yet elegant and effective systems to bring costs and labour down and productivity up to help struggling farmers make ends meet. Oliver had an observant and critical eye and understood Nature’s round. His ideas on the nature of modern food and health (or the lack of it) are only now being confirmed, half a century later. A delightful book. Full text online at the Journey to Forever.Plus “My Grandfather’s Earthworm Farm”, “Eve Balfour on Earthworms”, “Albert Howard on Earthworms”, “The Housefly” by Roy Hartenstein.

Vermicompost and plants

 


Worm casts — the best soil there is

Vermicompost consists mostly of worm casts (poop) plus some decayed organic matter. In ideal conditions worms can eat at least their own weight of organic matter in a day. In fact it seems they don’t actually eat it — they consume it, sure enough, but what they derive their nourishment from is all the micro-organisms that are really eating it. And yet — mystery! — their casts contain eight times as many micro-organisms as their feed! And these are the micro-organisms that best favour healthy plant growth. And the casts don’t contain any disease pathogens — pathogenic bacteria are reliably killed in the worms’ gut. This is one of the great benefits of vermicomposting.


Chinese spinach seedlings grown with (from left) chemical fertilizer, powdered horse manure, vermicompost, and nothing.

Worm casts also contain five times more nitrogen, seven times more phosphorus, and 11 times more potassium than ordinary soil, the main minerals needed for plant growth, but the large numbers of beneficial soil micro-organisms in worm casts have at least as much to do with it. The casts are also rich in humic acids, which condition the soil, have a perfect pH balance, and contain plant growth factors similar to those found in seaweed. There’s nothing better to put in your garden!

— “Worms seem to be the great promoters of vegetation, which would proceed but lamely without them, by boring, perforating, and loosening the soil, and rendering it pervious to rains and the fibres of plants, by drawing straws and stalks of leaves and twigs into it, and, most of all, by throwing up such infinite numbers of lumps of earth called worm-casts, which, being their excrement, is a fine manure for grain or grass.” — The Rev. Gilbert White of Selborne, 1777

— “All the fertile areas of this planet have at least once passed through the bodies of earthworms.” — Charles Darwin, “The Formation of Vegetable Mould through the Action of Worms with Observations on their Habits”, John Murray, London, 1881

The worms

These are not the usual big burrowing earthworms that live in garden soil. Called red worms, tiger worms, brandlings, angle worms, manure worms, or red wrigglers, they occupy a different ecological niche, living near the surface where there are high concentrations of organic matter, such as on pastures or in leaf mould, or under compost piles.

Two breeds are used in vermicomposting: Eisenia foetida or Lumbricus rubellas. Many garden centres now supply them, and in most countries they can be bought by mail order from worm farms. Some sellers advertise special high-performance breeds or specially developed hybrids, but don’t believe them — they’ll be one of these two breeds. There’s no such thing as a hybrid worm.

You’ll need 1,000 worms (1 lb) to start a worm box, maybe twice that if you want to process your garden wastes too — they breed very fast in the right conditions, but starting with more will give the system a good start.

Breeding

Worm populations double each month. In ideal conditions they can reproduce much faster than that: 1 lb of worms can increase to 1,000 lbs (one million worms) in a year, but in working conditions 1 lb will produce a surplus of 35 lbs in a year, because hatchlings and capsules (cocoons or eggs) are usually lost when the vermicompost is harvested.

Mature redworms make two or three capsules a week, each producing two or three hatchlings after about three weeks. The hatchlings are tiny white threads about half an inch long, but they grow fast, reaching sexual maturity in four to six weeks and making their own capsules. Three months later they’re grandparents!

This rapid breeding rate means the worm population easily adjusts to conditions in the worm box according to the feed supply and the proportion of worm casts to feed and bedding — their casts are slightly toxic to them, and as the box gets “full” they’ll either leave, if there’s anywhere for them to go, or they’ll die off.

This is an important consideration — if you only want the vermicompost for the garden it doesn’t much matter if the worms die off, as long as you’ve kept some aside to set a new box going. It also makes it easier to harvest the castings, and you’ll have a higher proportion of pure castings.

But if you want to produce excess worms as well, to extend your worm system, for sale as fishing bait, or to feed to poultry or fish (they really thrive on wormfeed), you’ll need to separate them from the vermicompost before the proportion of castings gets too high. See below,

Worm boxes

This section mainly applies to using worms to compost kitchen wastes. For garden wastes, the same basic principles apply, with a few cautions: see below,


Reln’s three-tray Can-O-Worms

There’s a good range of specialized worm composting units that you can buy: Can-O-Worms, Worm Factory, Worm-a-way, Eliminator, Worm-A-Roo, Tiger Wormery and others — you’ll find details at

Or you can easily build one yourself. In fact many people advise it, saying that wood is better than plastic — the commercial models are usually made of plastic, which doesn’t “breathe”, while wood is porous and allows for better ventilation.

Dimensions

The size of the unit should be geared to your household’s production of kitchen scraps.

One or two people usually produce about 4 lb of food waste a week: use a 2ft x 2ft box 8″ deep. For three people make it 12″ deep, for more, 2ft x 3ft x 12″ deep — or two 2-person boxes might be better, because bigger boxes can be too heavy to move when they’re full.

Use exterior-grade 1/2″ plywood. Don’t use chemically-treated wood. Treat the wood with a non-toxic wood preservative, or paint it with vegetable oil, or linseed oil. Use galvanized nails. Drill at least a dozen 1/2″ holes in the bottom for aeration, and arrange it so that two opposite sides are half-an-inch deeper so that the bottom stands off the ground. Stand the box in a tray, because it will probably leak a bit.

Once filled, cover the surface with black plastic sheeting (a garbage bag) slightly smaller than the surface area: this will keep the moisture in, and the worms will work right up to the surface. If this makes it too wet, use a couple of newspapers instead. Make a lid for the box. Keep it anywhere convenient.

Bedding

Fill the box with moist bedding for the worms to burrow in and to bury the food scraps in. You need about 6 lb (dry weight) for a 2ft x 2ft x 8″ box. Worms will eat the bedding as well as the food scraps, so you’ll need to top it up in a few months.


Adding new bedding (Greater Vancouver Regional District)

Any inert, non-toxic, fluffy material that holds moisture and allows air to circulate will do. Don’t use anything that will decompose too rapidly when you moisten it and get hot, like manure that’s not aged enough or hay, especially alfalfa hay. Mixed bedding is better, but no need to be too complicated: 2/3 corrugated cardboard and 1/3 sphagnum  is a good mixture, or sphagnum peat moss, shredded leaves and sawdust; or just cardboard and/or newspaper.

  • Cardboard cartons (corrugated): cut them up into strips an inch wide and a few inches long. Don’t use the shredded cardboard sold for insulation because it’s treated with toxic chemicals.
  • Newspaper: tear it into 1″ strips — it’s easy to tear with the grain. Black ink is non-toxic, avoid glossy paper.
  • Shredded computer paper.
  • Autumn leaves: spread them thickly in the driveway and drive over them with the car a few times to break them up, or shred them with a lawnmower. Or moisten them, sprinkle some lime, ground limestone or wood ash over them and bundle them up in a garbage bag, tie the top closed, and in a few months they’ll have broken down enough to be excellent worm bedding. Or just use them as is, though it’ll take a bit longer for the worms to break them down.
  • Aged manure, or composted manure: cow, horse, rabbit.
  • Sphagnum : use Canadian peat moss, soak it in water for 24 hours, squeeze it out and sprinkle some lime on it.
  •  or coir (coconut fibre): comes in compressed bricks, soak in water and they swell up — no need to add lime.
  • Chopped-up straw or other dead plant material, spoiled hay, yard clippings, dried grass clippings: any plant material “aged” beyond the green stage.
  • Sawdust, wood shavings: from non-aromatic wood, avoid treated wood, about a quarter to a third of the bedding mixture.

Add a couple of handsful of soil or sand — it helps the worms grind up the food in their gizzards. Sprinkle a bit of lime, ground limestone or wood ash over the bedding (not too much!). Ground limestone is best.

Worm bedding and feed can be wetter than compost material: 75%, compared with 65% maximum for compost. Dry bedding usually needs a bit less than three times its weight in water (a pint of water weighs a pound, a litre weighs a kilogram).

Once it’s all suitably shredded, mixed and moist, put it in the box and add the worms (about 1lb — 1,000 worms). Leave it for two or three days to let the worms settle in before adding wastes.

Feeding

No metal, foil, or plastic. Use vegetable and fruit scraps, coffee grounds (including paper filters), tea bags (remove the staple), eggshells (best dried and crushed first, then sprinkled over the surface), stale bread, houseplant trimmings. Chop up big chunks. Some people advise against citrus, and also onion and garlic, others use them: try small quantities first. Not too much vegetable oil, be cautious at first with dairy products, meat and fish — small amounts chopped fine, well-dispersed and well-covered with bedding should be okay. Broken chicken bones are okay, bigger bones won’t break down but shouldn’t cause problems either — they’ll be picked clean.

It’s best to collect food scraps in a small bucket with a lid and add them to the worm box every couple of days (or more often in hot weather — don’t let it go rotten). Bury them in the bedding in a corner of the box. Next time, bury the new scraps near the first scraps. You can have about nine burial sites in a 2x2ft box: by the time you’ve used the ninth one, you can go back to the first site again, the worms will have cleared it.

You’ll be surprised how much feed you can put in that box — the worms and micro-organisms reduce it more than you’d think possible.

The box will need emptying every 3-6 months.

Best tool for burying feed: a three-pronged hand-cultivator (hand-fork).

Harvesting

If it’s mainly the worm casts you want to use as garden compost, any of the following methods will do. If you value production of worms as well as casts, use the light separation method or a wire mesh screen.

Some hassle — light separation

Dump the finished material from the box onto a big piece of plastic (eg, an opened-out garbage bag) on the floor or on a table under a 100W light, or outside in the sun.


Keith harvests a worm box


Form it into eight or nine mounds. Worms are sensitive to light and immediately burrow beneath the surface. Wait a few minutes, and meanwhile put fresh bedding in the box.

A handbrush and dustpan are useful for this. Lightly brush the top off each mound until the worms are revealed, then wait for them to burrow deeper and do it again. Eventually you’re left with a squirming mass of worms all trying to get under each other to avoid the light. Quickly put them in the new bedding in the box with a fresh supply of feed.


Worm spaghetti!

This leaves you with a rich harvest of worm castings and a lot of capsules, which you lose (the hatchlings won’t survive in garden soil), but the worms in the bin will soon replace them. Store the castings for a week or two before using them in the garden.

Kids love this — if you have any tame children around you can usually talk them into doing it for you.

Less hassle — sideways separation

Shift all the material in the box to one side and fill the other side with fresh bedding; put your kitchen scraps and feed only in the fresh bedding side. In the next week or two the worms will migrate from the finished vermicompost into the fresh bedding. In the meantime the capsules will hatch and most of the hatchlings will also move across, so you won’t lose them, which is an advantage over the dump-and-sort method.

Even less hassle — vertical separation

Get a piece of nylon or mesh window screening a bit bigger than the surface of the box and lay it flat on the surface of the vermicompost. It should be big enough to flatten against the sides and leave some overlap at the top. Fill the box up with fresh bedding on top of the screen and continue feeding it with kitchen scraps. The worms will migrate up through the screen into the new bedding as the food runs out below.

When the top part is ready for harvesting, use the overlap to lift the screen from the box, vermicompost, worms and all. Set it aside and empty the box — it will have a very high concentration of worm castings and few if any worms, hatchlings or capsules.

Dump the wormy material that was on top of the screen into the bottom of the box and put the screen back on top of it, with fresh bedding on top of the screen.

Check the condition of the screen each time you empty the box, and replace it before it gets rotten enough to rip just as you’re removing it, spilling everything back into the box.

No hassle

This method will give you lots of trouble-free castings, but no extra worms. Go on feeding kitchen scraps to the box for up to four months, and then start a second box — prime it with fresh bedding and a supply of worms from the first box. Just leave the first box until the second box is full, by which time the first box will contain a very high proportion of fine castings, and very few worms.

To make sure there are enough worms for both boxes, you can prepare the second box about a month earlier, adding some worms to it every time you add feed to the first box.

Screening

The vermicompost might need screening, especially if you’ve used rough stuff (sticks etc.) in the bedding that takes time to break down. A circular gardener’s sieve with a 3/16″ mesh will work best. Try to get one with stainless steel mesh, it’ll do the job much quicker, the worm castings won’t stick to the mesh, and it won’t rust.

This is also a good way of separating the worms from finished vermicompost, though capsules and hatchlings are lost.

Problems

Flies and smells — there shouldn’t be any, but sometimes it happens. Worm casts have a pleasant, earthy smell, like forest soil. If the worm bin starts to smell, there’s too much feed in it, more than the worms can process — you’ve overloaded the system. Stop feeding the worms, add more dry bedding, a little sprinkled lime, and stir the bin with the hand cultivator (hand-fork). Repeat until the smell vanishes.

Fruit flies (actually vinegar flies) can get into the box, but they do no harm. Lots of them mean too much feed — cut down the feeding rate and cover the surface with a damp newspaper.

The bin can also have an influx of soldier fly maggots, up to an inch long (they’re a favourite with fishermen). Vinegar fly larvae are much smaller. Actually the maggots benefit the composting process, but if you don’t like them, add more bedding and lime and stir as above, or put a chunk of bread soaked in milk on the surface. In a couple of days it will be infested with larvae; take it out and get rid of it (give it to a fisherman or a chicken).

Garden wastes

Outdoor boxes can be bigger. The simplest way of all is a 12-inch-deep trench in the soil about 2ft wide or more with 8″ of bedding and/or compost to put the worms in. Red worms can’t survive long in ordinary garden soil so they won’t crawl away. Add garden wastes as they come, putting it in a different part of the trench each time, and cover with a sprinkling of soil and lime. Bury kitchen wastes at the bottom, under the garden wastes.

Fresh garden wastes might get hot, but the worms will have a place to escape to until it gets cool enough for them to handle.

To keep moles away, line the trench with 1/2″ chicken wire or wire mesh.

Or make a four-sided wooden box with four 18″ by 36″ boards (or nail narrower planks together), treat it with vegetable oil or linseed oil, and stand it on a layer of bricks on top of the soil. Put 6″ or so of bedding in the bottom and put the worms in it. Add wastes to the corners in succession. Shake the soil off clumped roots. Chop up big bits with the edge of a spade. Add more bedding as necessary. Bury kitchen scraps.

See “Friend Earthworm: Practical Application of a Lifetime Study of Habits of the Most Important Animal in the World” by George Sheffield Oliver for more information — online at the Journey to Forever 

Using vermicompost

Use like compost — dig it lightly into the topsoil around your plants. In composting growing beds or preparing new beds, vermicompost generally goes about twice as far as ordinary (aerobic) compost, so use half as much. But each garden is different (and so is each gardener!) — some people have good results simply dumping large amounts of the stuff on top of their beds (6″ a year in one case), others with very little.

Vermicompost gives seedlings a really good start in life.

In pots and containers, don’t use pure vermicompost. About 25% of the growing mixture seems to be about ideal, but experiment — it might vary according to what you mix it with.

You can also use vermicompost to make “compost tea” liquid fertilizer. Mix two tablespoons of vermicompost with a litre of water and let it stand for a day, shaking it occasionally, then sprinkle under the plants. One-litre drinking water bottles make good sprinklers: drill a few small-diameter holes in the lid, point and squeeze.

For transplants, especially bare-root transplants, spray them with an even more dilute solution of “tea”, or stand them in it for awhile — it’ll help to prevent transplant shock. (Liquid seaweed solution is excellent for this.)

Don’t let the vermicompost dry out before using it — it loses a lot of its value and resists wetting. If you store it, don’t use an airtight container. It will keep for a year or more.

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