That sav’d a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.’
I have already come;
’Tis grace has brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.’
The sun forbear to shine.’
If you are in
The longish pods sometimes open on the tree and the white fiber that cover the black seeds blow off in the wind. The tree sheds leaves in summer. From a distance, pods would look like brown bats hanging on dead branches.
In Kerala, this tree is known as panjimaram or seemapool. The botanical name is Ceiba pentandra Linn. (Please verify this.) It is also called kapok tree. Some of the names in Indian languages are semal, tella buruga, panji tannaku, shweta shalmali, safed savara, and schwetsimul.
The tree normally grows to a height of more than 50’. While it is young, the bark is green and has thorns, but turns brown as the tree grows older. White flowers bloom on the ends of the branches. There is also a tree of the same family, which has red flowers.
The floss or cotton from the pods is used to stuff mattresses, pillows and cushions. The fiber does not have sufficient strength to be spun into yarn or woven into cloth.
Separating the seeds and the floss is a messy affair. It is done by churning the contents of the pods. At Olavipe we have a man called Outha, a jack of all trades, who is an expert in handling this job. When he is finished with it Outha would look like a faded photograph with the fiber all over him. Not enough to make him look like a snowman though.
Till doing some research yesterday I was under the impression that the only use of this tree is to provide floss for stuffing. That was wrong. The oil from the seeds of kapok tree is used for cooking as well as soap making.
But it seems that the root and bark have several medicinal properties. According to some papers they are useful in managing constipation, urinary retention, tumors, seminal weakness, flatulence, colic, and type II diabetes. It is an aphrodisiac as well.
I was ignorant of the true value of the kapok tree. But not the people of Puerto Rico. It is their national tree.
(A request: Will knowledgeable visitors to the site add and/or correct what is said here? Thank you.)
The drawing on top is from Wikimedia Creative Commons. It is in the public domain. The photos below (copyright reserved) are from Olavipe. Click on them to enlarge.
Also see:Ixora coccinea (Rubiaceae) - flowers that gods and men love
Photos TP (Copyright reserved.) Click to enlarge.
One man’s bread is another man’s poison. So the saying goes. Here are some random thoughts on the subject.
I suppose cuisines develop and stabilize due to several factors. It could be said that recipes were originally created with grains and vegetables that were locally available. Here the climate plays a part. In
It is different in the North. For instance, in
One of the reasons for the absence of ‘English’ vegetables in the common cuisine then was non-availability. Those days they were cultivated in the cooler climates, such as that of the Nilgiri Hills. Once they became easily obtainable, people introduced them in their daily meals.
Cuisines are dynamic. People are always experimenting for improved or tastier dishes without flouting accepted parameters. Some succeed, but their creations are more often than not used for special occasions. The regular meals usually contain conventional food.
Sometimes we accept imported food ideas. The hamburger is an example of this. It was introduced in the
But among the two, it was the hamburger that conquered
Talking about adaptability, first we had the simple pancake dosa. Then came the masala dosa filled with potatoes and onions, and sometimes even carrot pieces. Indian Coffee House’s masala dosas have even beetroot. This was followed by cheese dosa, keema dosa, and so on. The Pai brothers of
Pizza too is a foreign conquest of
Adaptation is fine as long as it blends. But sometimes one comes across atrocities. The other day we bought a parcel of samosas from a famous Chennai eatery. On opening the packet we were shocked to find sachets of tomato sauce instead of the conventional chutney.
Perhaps some people like the combination. I don’t. May be tomorrow it would be idli with tomato ketchup. Who knows?
Also see:Britain strikes back at the Empire
An industry dies and from its ashes rises a new one. That is the story of Delftware, the blue and white pottery made in the town of
In the early 17th century,
A painting of
The floundering brewing industry was almost wiped out by what is known as Delft Thunderclap. A gunpowder store in Delft exploded, killing many people and causing extensive damage to the town.
That was on October 12, 1654.
Most of the breweries which survived the calamity closed down. Their buildings were taken over by potters. Pottery patterned on Majolica was already being made in
Then a trend of copying the designs on Chinese blue pottery started. They were popular but slowly gave way to designs with local scenes and religious motifs. The products included tiles, jars, plates, clogs, pictorial plates and so on. Three photos (copyright reserved) taken by me from among the pieces we have are reproduced below:
The popularity and iconic status of Delftware can be gauged by the fact that the tailfins of seventeen British Airways planes were painted with design based on Delftware. See the following photo from Wikipedia:
The golden era of
(Click on photos to enlarge.)
Thumpa (Leucas aspera, Dronapushpi, Gumma Bhaji, Karukansoli, pansi-pansi, paysi-paysi, sipsipan, sula-sulasihan) is part of my childhood memories in
Thumpa used to grow wild all over the place. Even children knew it had medicinal value. The most common usage was in case of any skin problems. If you touch a poisonous weed or plant and there are itching and/or skin eruptions, take a few thumpa leaves, crush them in your hand and apply to the affected part. The relief is almost immediate.
The medicinal properties of Leucas aspera are accepted in all the areas where the 100 species of the plant grows (Indian Subcontinent,
In some countries, Leucas aspera is used as a fragrant herb in cooking. It is also a natural insecticide. In Kerala, the plant is burnt to ward off mosquitoes.
What used to grow wild in our area and many parts of Kerala started disappearing about four decades back. We found that the use of chemical manure and pesticides was the cause. About twenty five years back we shifted back to organic farming. The thumpa plants returned to the scene as you can see in the photographs I took in Olavipe.
Leucas aspera can also be cultivated commercially. Seeds can be ordered online. Dry, sandy soil and full sunlight are required. The suggested planting distance is 12 to 15 inches apart. You could also have a few clusters of Leucas aspera in your garden, either on the ground or in pots.
These are great plants to have in the vicinity residential houses.