MEET THE JAMAICAN DANDELION: WORLD REKNOWN CASSIA/SENNA COFFEE

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MY INTRODUCTION TO CASSIA: SENNA COFFEE

When I was a little girl – about four years old, I used to get the Jamaican dandelion plant confused with Jerusalem peas all the time. You see, the leaves and bean pods appeared to have very similar features, though they are not related. Fortunately for me, my grandmother was there to teach me the differences between and these and many other plants around our home. She also taught me their benefits and uses and her garden is still home to many cassia senna coffee plants to this day. In fact, the images in this article were taken in her garden and I’m delighted to share them and the knowledge I’ve gained concerning these golden treasures with you.

 

JAMAICAN DANDELION: ONE OF THE RAREST AND MOST DESIRED SUPERFOODS

Long before my dynasty, cassia and her more than six hundred species have been used as natural medicine – her roots, leaves, flowers, and seeds employed to remedy ailments around the world. The Jamaican dandelion is one to be marveled at though. It’s been lauded as one treasure to have all useful parts. The leaves, stems, seeds and flowers are used traditionally in the kitchen, in therapy, and for a host of medicinal purposes.

 

CASSIA SENNA USES & BENEFITS

The senna coffee seeds are ground and brewed into a beverage that’s reminiscent of coffee with a sweeter flavor and no harmful side-effects. This brew gives hard-working Jamaicans a boost in energy as they start their day and has been used to quell asthma as well. The gorgeous showers of golden flowers are soothing to the senses in more ways than one. An infusion from the blooms has been used to treat bronchitis. The roots are considered a diuretic. In fact, all parts of the lovely plant have been used to treat fevers, menstrual problems, tuberculosis, anemia, liver complaints, urinary tract disorders, edema and as a tonic for general weakness and illness. The leaves can also be used topically to reduce inflammation, soothe burning and to expel skin disorders, wounds, skin fungus, parasitic skin diseases, abscesses, and as a topical analgesic herb.

 

PLANTING CASSIA/SENNA

Jamaican dandelion plants average six to eight feet. It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that they love warmer climatic conditions. Be sure to choose a home that allows your plants lots of sunlight. They can’t possibly have too much of that. Plant your cassia senna coffee in rich, loamy soil. If you’ve read any of my articles then you know my favorite recommendation. Mix sand, sawdust, humus and manure evenly and plant your senna coffee seeds half an inch deep. You’ll have sprouts within two weeks – often within as little as five days.

 

CARE

One of the best qualities about this plant that makes it so desirable is that it doesn’t require very much attention to thrive once the ideal conditions exist. There is no pruning, cutting, staking, training, guiding or repotting involved. Simply provide water and watch it grow into an elegant work of art, sprouting sprays of gold from the stems. The flowers promise a generous giving of skinny, long, green pods that gradually turn brown as seeds mature. All of this happens in under six months! Now you can harvest seeds and enjoy.

HEALING RAMGOAT NATIONAL PLANT

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POWERFUL TURNERA ULMIFOLIA

While this gorgeous, versatile and powerful Turnera herb is relatively lowly and unknown, it should certainly be lauded. In this article, you will learn that the ramgoat national plant is not only an ornamental herb to be desired, but has useful medicinal properties. The turnera is used as an aphrodisiac for both male and female sexual stimulation, increased energy, asthma, depression, impotence, menstrual problems, and so much more.

 

TURNERA & I: OUR HISTORY

Ramgoat national grew wild all around me when I was growing up. I’ve also heard locals call it ramgoat dash-along and ramgoat regular. One thing that remains constant is the whole “ramgoat” thing. That’s quite an unusual name for a plant. Don’t you think so? Well, it is said it was given the name because it seems to be a goats’ favorite snack. WILD RAMGOAT NATIONALThey love the stuff! Leave your goat kid in a field of wild turnera and he’ll be content.

The small turnera bush would sprout up almost anywhere: along the side of the roads, in the garden path, between the rocks in the hills and mountains. Men would pull them up and take them home in bundles as they strolled along our street but I gave them no heed. One thing you’ll learn about authentic Jamaicans is that we primarily aim to treat every ailment by natural methods. This understanding of the parts of Eden at our disposal is passed down and preserved from generation to generation. Throughout our journey, ramgoat national has been there for us.

TRADITIONAL USES

Occassinally, the turnera was among the recommended brews used to relieve anxiety, nervousness, and mild depression, especially if these symptoms had a sexual component. Ramgoat national has been applied as a tonic, in the fight against a cold or flu virus, to improve digestion and to relieve chronic constipation as a mild laxative. Hmmm, maybe that’s why the goat herds just kept on growing in number.

 

PLANTING RAMGOAT NATIONAL

 

When it comes to this turnera plant, here’s the thing I’m most excited about. The ramgoat national doesn’t need much care and attention to thrive. It would be perfect for those of us who love having plants around but struggle with keeping them alive and well. If you believe your POTTED RAMGOAT NATIONAL PLANThands are cursed to damn every plant you touch to nothingness, you should give this plant a try. Plant it in any medium that will not leave it waterlogged. Provide a home with exposure to lots of sunlight and ramgoat national will be good to you. Our plants are currently happy as a lark in my favorite mix of manure (preferably cow dung), humus, sand and sawdust. However,  ramgoat national does not demand such finery. That’s just the mix I personally keep close at hand. Like I said before, ramgoat national will thrive in difficult soil types.

CARE

Your turnera will not demand a lot of root space so a small pot or shallow ground will do. Remember, it grows without prompt between rocks in Jamaica so it isn’t likely to complain about a 6-inch pot. The small plant stands proud and erect with pointy, dark green leaves that emit an inspiring aroma when touched, brewed or after a dance in the rain.

It usually takes about eight weeks to start pushing out flower buds. I have seen signs in six weeks on occasion. You’ll love the golden blooms and it’s a fair bloomer, always generously dotted with clusters of gold. If you live in colder regions and you’ve planted them in your garden bed, remember to save some of the seeds for planting next season. You want to plant those seeds after the danger of frost. You can start them indoors in punnets if you’d like to give yourself a head start on the growing season. Transplant those when you have three inches of growth.

 

RAMGOAT NATIONAL: APHRODESIAC

Now, I haven’t yet experimented with turnera as a sexuality tonic but it is highly recommended by many trusted herbalists. It stimulates the intestinal tract and brings oxygen to the genital area. It also increases energy levels which does a lot to restore libido and desire. Women claim that the ramgoat national tea can restore the ability to achieve orgasms. When your plant is full and flourishing, I encourage you to try it. Always seek the counsel of your healthcare provider first. I’d love to have your feedback.

 

SUMMARY OF USES & BENEFITS

…so let’s recap. The turnera – ramgoat national contains essential oils, flavonoids and more that can improve sexual stimulation, increases energy, treats asthma, nervous dyspepsia, constipation, debility, lethargy, depression, impotence and menstrual problems. I want you to be healthy in all endeavors so I’d like for you to take caution. It is thought that large quantities of ramgoat national taken internally may cause insomnia and headaches and in some cases liver damage. However, no rigorous scientific studies have examined the effects of long-term use of this herb. Always consult your healthcare provider before use or application of any herbal or natural treatment or consumption.

I hope you enjoy this new addition to your garden. As always, I invite you to feel free to share your thoughts and your own experiences with us. It’s always good to hear from you. Happy gardening!

JAMAICAN TURMERIC – LIFES’ GOLDEN SPICE

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Who knew curry came from the powdered root of a gorgeous ornamental plant? Did you? Well, there’s much more to discover about the turmeric plant, its’ uses, benefits, habits and history. Wait until you learn how amazing the golden spice of life really is!

 

 

 

TURMERIC | CURRY & I

The Jamaican turmeric is known by locals as tambric. In fact, that’s the name I grew up hearing so even now when I ask my grandmother to procure fresh rhizomes from her garden I have to ask for tambric or she’ll be lost. I wasn’t introduced to the term turmeric until after I’d moved away as an adult but rest assured, I was fully aware of its potent curry flavor; its’ gorgeous white flowers with tips tinged in pink perfection and golden buds of sunshine popping out from beneath the folded petals; the pleasantly fragrant and graceful, shiny, broad leaves. Yet, there was so much more I was ignorant of.

One of the saddest realizations I’ve had about the land of my birth is that it’s a country swimming in treasures; It’s a hefty slice of the Garden of Eden – a potential pinch of Utopia… but why is this saddening? It is so because we do not know it. Jamaica is brimming with a host of rare, exotic, tropical, breathtakingly beautiful, ornamental, nutrient-dense, antioxidant-rich, superfood, heirloom treasures that are jam-packed with benefits and until recent years, locals have been – for the better part – oblivious to how blessed they are to be born and raised on Paradise Rock. While curry is a staple of the Jamaican kitchen cabinet, most West Indians don’t actually realize that turmeric can be used for so much more than flavoring and food coloring. Nor do they know just how helpful consumption can be to the overall wellness of the body.

 

PLANTING

Turmeric makes an excellent ornamental plant, even in smaller spaces. That’s something I know most of us in colder regions can appreciate as you can keep your turmeric pot in a small space like your kitchen windowsill or next to the shoe rack in your tiny New York apartment. While most of the more familiar and commercially cultivated turmeric varieties produce blooms of pink and white petals, there are others that range in colors from orange to pink, to indigo, to violet, to a deep plum. The ability to grow, thrive and produce in small spaces – coupled with the lovely blossoms – make for not only a rewarding ornamental, but a great conversation piece that’s also useful.

 

CARE

Jamaican turmeric plants behave similarly to their relatives, zingiber (Jamaican ginger). Broad leaves that appear as larger bear leeks (allium ursinum) emerge from a central stem in fountain-like folds that hang gracefully outward. The plants, however, are much shorter than the zingiber do not grow to be much taller than two feet. They prefer partial shade with filtered sunlight in an area protected from strong winds. To keep the rhizomes healthy, plant your turmeric in rich, breathable soil. If your soil is heavy, mix in a generous portion of sand, sawdust and wood chips to create some breathability. You may water generously if your plants are in the ground and the water is able to run off but do not leave your soil waterlogged, especially if your plants are potted. It is also good to allow the soil to dry a little between watering.

If you live in colder regions and your plants are outdoors, the foliage will die back at the cusp of winter. You can harvest your turmeric and use them however you like. Just remember to save a few rhizomes for planting next spring. You can wrap them in an old newspaper and keep them in the bottom of the refrigerator until you’re ready for planting. They will remain fresh for months. When you’re ready to put them back in the ground, soak them in a bowl of water for 24 hours. In another three months you can have fresh turmeric for your household once more.

 

HOW DO WE GET TO CURRY?

…So how does a turmeric rhizome transform into curry powder? It’s actually a very simple and easy process if you’d like to try it at home. It’s also a great project you can get your whole family involved in. Children love seeing how something they helped create can be useful. After harvesting your rhizomes, rinse them thoroughly in a bowl of cool water. Under water, rub them between your fingers to shake all the soil loose. Discard your water and repeat the rinse with clean water as many times as necessary until your water is clear Turmericwhen you pour it off. You can dry your turmeric rhizomes in a clean kitchen towel. I like to use a white towel because turmeric tends to stain and whites are easy to bleach and I don’t have to worry about ruining a color or pattern.

You can then cut your rhizomes into thin slices and dehydrate. Some of us may use a dehydrator tray, your oven or the sun. Once dry, you can crush the pieces and grid them by hand, with a blender, or food processor until powdered. I like to keep my turmeric powder pure and mix in other spices as I’m cooking but if you’d like to really make your curry powder interesting, you can add other dried spices like ground thyme leaves, basil and dried peppers. You can store your freshly made spice in a mason jar in your kitchen cabinet. Curry takes years to expire and does not need to remain refrigerated. It’s also a terrific gift idea I you’re not the one hosting thanksgiving dinner this year. Turmeric has also been used for eons to flavor cheeses, butter and mustard.

 

OTHER USES

 

If you’ve ever held a natural turmeric rhizome then I’m sure you’ve noticed the bright orange pigment. That is because of the presence of a golden chemical we call curcumin that is used in medicine and coloring for health, cosmetic and artistic purposes. Turmeric is also becoming a more widely accepted way of treating skin conditions like acne, rashes or dry skin. I stumbled upon THIS article that included recipes for a turmeric face mask for both dry and oily skin types that I hope you guys find enlightening and useful. Turmeric oil is also sometimes used in perfumes, massages and skin treatments and I said to aid in reestablishing healthy, supple skin.

BENEFITS

Turmeric has been used in treating arthritis, heartburn, joint pain, stomach pain, Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, bypass surgery, hemorrhage, diarrhea, intestinal gas, stomach bloating, loss of appetite, jaundice, liver problems, infections, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gallbladder disorders, diabetes, water retention, worms, high cholesterol, skin inflammation from radiation treatment, and fatigue. It has also been applied for headaches, bronchitis, colds, lung infections, inflammation, fibromyalgia, leprosy, fever, itchy skin, topical pain, ringworm, sprains and swellings, bruising, leech bites, eye infections, acne, inflammatory skin conditions and skin sores, soreness inside of the mouth, infected wounds, gum disease and some cancers. Share your thoughts on health with your health care provider. I was fortunate to have a one who was and still is a strong believer in Mother Nature’s ability to heal without the side-effects that medication can bring in the trunk. I hope your efforts prove just as fruitful. Happy gardening!

 

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