Saturday, January 22, 2011

Betel leaf

The Betel leaf vine Piper bitle is flourishing in my garden now.Although I don't eat betel leaf, I am growing it because it has such pretty heart shaped and glossy leaves, and makes an excellent ground cover. The other plants you see in the picture are turmeric plants, which are ready for harvesting. The betel leaves and turmeric are considered auspicious by the Hindus. Any fruit offered in the temple is accompanied by betel leaves.
Betel leaves have thousands of year old history. Ancient Sanskrit texts mention them. During an engagement ceremony, the parents of the bride and the groom exchange betel leaves and areca nuts. A mouth freshener called paan is made using betel leaves, areca nuts and some lime, which is very popular in India and other South east Asian countries. Betel leaves grown in in Banaras, Mysore and Kerala are very famous.
I use the betel leaves in a tea whenever I have a cough. Eating a small slice of fresh turmeric will also cure the cough.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Chenille Plant

The Chenille Plant Acalypha hispida is also called Cat's Tail or Red Hot Cat- tail because of the long red catkins. There are male and female plants.
This plant has naturalised itself in the tropics. The plant blooms throughout the year in these parts.
It is easy to grow by cuttings taken in spring, or during the Monsoons.