Wednesday, December 11, 2013

“Survival plants” - how familiar are these to you?

Dr Abe V Rotor

Palauan (Crytosperma merkusii) has large, starchy rootstock which is prepared for food in times of scarcity. It grows luxuriantly in thickets and on wetlands. This photo was taken on Mt Makiling with the late Professor Eduardo de Leon, a well known botanist and professor of the University of Santo Tomas.
pre-hispanic philippine culture photos  Survivors of war, plane crash, shipwreck have a lot of lessons to share, among them are edible plants that kept them alive.

• Talisay (Terminalia catappa) bears nut like fruits that contain small seeds that taste like almond.

 Tibig (Ficus nota.) The fruits are edible and have a good flavor. They are soft and fleshy when mature.

 Isis (Ficus odorata) or isis because its rough leaves are used as natural sandpaper for utensil and wood. Its fruits like tibig are edible.

 Balleba (Vallisnera) is an aquatic plant growing in clear streams, ponds and lakes, whose leaves appear like ribbon, hence it is also called ribbon grass. The leaves are gathered and served fresh with tomato, onion and salt.

• Apulid or water chestnut. Our native apulid produces very small bulbs - only one-third the size of the Chinese or Vietnamese apulid. It grows wild in places where water is present year round. It is boiled, peeled and served.

• Aratiles (Muntingia calabura) bears plenty of tiny berries which are red to violet when ripe. It is sweet and somewhat aromatic.

• Wild sinkamas (Pacchyrhizus erosus) has enlarged roots which may remain in the soil even after the plants has dried up in summer. It is gathered and eaten raw.

 Urai (Amaranthus spinosus). The plant become spiny as it matures. It is the very young plant that is gathered as vegetable.

• Mulberry (Morus alba). Its leaves are the chief food of silkworm. The fruits when ripe are purple to black, and while very small are juicy and fairly sweet.

 Taro (Colocasia sp.). The Palawan gabi grows twice the height of man and produces a large corm. There is a technique in preparing and cooking the corm. Or making starch out of it. The key is thorough cleaning and cooking.

• Gulasiman (Portulaca oleracea) has succulent leaves and stems which are cooked as vegetables.

 Alugbati (Basella rubra) is a twining plant with reddish stems and leaves. The tops are gathered as vegetable which is mucilaginous when cooked.

 Talinum (Talinum triangulare). The succulent stems and leaves are gathered as vegetable.

Wild food plants include corm of banana, core of maguey (Agave cantala), bamboo shoot, bignay (Antidesma binuis), kumpitis (Clitorea purpurea), kamkamote, rattan fruits, sabawil, alukong, lotus seed, wild papaya, botolan (seeded banana), wild mushrooms, and many others. There are other wild food plants mentioned in this paper.

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