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Search Results for ' Ethnobotany'

PAL Questions: 1 - Garden Tools: 1 - Recommended Websites: 1

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Keywords: Guizotia abyssinica, Seeds, Ethnobotany

PAL Question:

I bought some shiny dark seeds at an Ethiopian grocery store. The proprietor said they were good for sore throat. The name of the seed sounded something like 'nuk.' Can you tell me what plant they are from? And is it safe to use them?

View Answer:

By guessing at different possible spellings, I came across a plant whose Amharic name sounds like 'nuk' or 'noug.' I also showed your sample seeds to an Eritrean colleague, and confirmed that they were familiar to him for their high oil content, but also for steeping in hot water to make a kind of tonic. I can't recommend consuming them medicinally—you would need to speak to a medical professional. But I can tell you that the plant source is Guizotia abyssinica. It is in the daisy family (Asteraceae), and has a yellow flower that might remind you a little of a yellow daisy. There is research being done at University of British Columbia’s Botany department on this plant and its potential as a crop to increase food security and alleviate poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Purdue University researchers are looking into cultivating this plant (also called Nigerseed) in the Midwestern United States.

Wikipedia has additional information about this plant.

Season All Season
Date 2014-08-06
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Keywords: Anemone, Plants and history, Ethnobotany, Cyclamen

Garden Tool:

Cyclamen start blooming in the fall. Diana Wells, in her book 100 Flowers and How They Got Their Names (Algonquin Books, 1997) reports that Cyclamen's common name is "sowbread" because they were supposedly used to feed pigs. The name cyclamen comes from the Greek "kyklo" meaning circle and probably referring to the seed stalks that curl up to a tight coil as they ripen.

Wells writes about another autumn flower, Japanese anemones. Plant hunter Robert Fortune sent seeds of the plant to England in 1844. He noted these white flowering perennials were often growing on graves in China and remarked Anemone "[a] most appropriate ornament for the last resting places of the dead."

A few other fun books on the lore and history of plants are Cornucopia the Lore of Fruits and Vegetables by Annie Lise Roberts (Knickerbocker, 1998) with colorful photos and recipes and the classic Who named the Daisy, Who named the Rose by Mary Durant (Dodd, Mead & Co., 1976) that gives a folk history of American wildflowers.

Season: All Season
Date: 2007-04-03
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December 12 2014 11:33:49