Few plant species can have been better studied than rice. There is a wealth of information out there; I’ve picked a few interesting and enlightening extracts- a résumé of rice if you like.
Rice growing in the tropical greenhouse at Reading
Taro: The Oldest Food Crop on Earth with a 10,000 Year Culinary History
Dish of Eddoe corms
Colocasia esculenta, also known as Taro or Dasheen as well as many other vernacular names, is an important food crop, widely cultivated in a zone spanning across Asia, South East Asia and Melanesia. Its starchy root is included in the diet of about half a billion people, making it an important source of nutrition (Lebot, 2009). It is also, most probably, the oldest crop on earth with a history going back more than 10,000 years. Evidence of taro use during the early and mid-Holocene period has been found in the form of taro starch traces on tools used to process starchy food at Kuk Swamp in the Western Highlands of New Guinea (Fullager, et al, 2006).
Over the millennia, it has acquired considerable socio-cultural significance. It is a prestige crop for gifting and feasting; parts of the plant are used medicinally and it features in the folklore of Oceania and South East Asia (Onwueme, 1999).
Posted in Asia, Crops, Species, Students
Tagged AGM, archeology, Asia, colocasia, corms, dasheen, eddoe, pacific, taro, tender perennial, tropical crop, Tropical food plants
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Lacking ideas this Movember? Why not take inspiration from Spanish Moss and the great Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto, from whom the plant was thought to originate. Well at least as the legend goes…
Apparently Hernando De Soto pursued an Indian maiden through the forest and up a live oak tree. During the chase his gray beard became entangled in the tree, giving the maiden an opportunity to escape. De Soto freed himself, but several wisps of his beard were left behind. These remnants became Spanish Moss .
Posted in Americas, Learning and Teaching, Neotropics, Species, Students
Tagged America, Bromeliaceae, Epiphyte, Spanish Moss, specialised trichomes, species distribution, Tillandsia usneoides
Averrhoa carambola L., the starfruit is one of those strange and unique products that come from the east of Asia, with its funny shape and curious flavours, which you can love or hate, it is beggining to appear broadly in the European and North American markets. It can be used to decorate a dessert or to make a salad a new experience of flavours. In addition it is increadibly widely used in traditional medicine and can decorate your garden or help you to take the rust off!!
Posted in Africa, Asia, Learning and Teaching, Palaeotropics, Species, Students
Tagged Asia, Averrhoa, Averrhoa carambola, Carambola, Crop, Cultivation, Fruit, Indonesia, Medicine, Oxalidaceae, Starfruit
Thunbergia alata, commonly known as the Black Eyed Susan vine, is a climbing vine from the Acanthaceae family (Heywood et al, 2007)1, which produces large showy yellow flowers with a black spot in the centre. These large bright flowers and relative ease of cultivation (Smithies, 2007 )2 are the reason why it is a widely grown ornamental species. Continue reading
Posted in Africa, Countries, Palaeotropics, People, Students
Tagged Acanthaceae, alata, Black Eyed Susan, climbing, colourful, horticulture, introduced, Thunbergia, twining, vine
Musa Dwarf Cavendish group – inflorescence with young fruit and flowers.
Slightly over one year from planting out our Dwarf Cavendish banana is now in full bloom and the female flowers are already beginning to develop their distinct bunches of fruit. You can see the plant as it looked in September 2012 in a blog by Sam Hickling. For detail on the banana family including floral morphology and leaf anatomy Pei Liew’s blog on Musaceae offers well illustrated detail. This is the first time in several years we have flowered this clone of the edible banana. Continue reading
Posted in Crops, Monocots, Neotropics
Tagged Ananas comosus, banana, banana plant, Bromeliaceae, bromeliad, flowering, Musa, Musaceae, pineapple, Tropical Crops, tropical fruit