Sunday, September 18, 2016

Folk Wisdom in Action - 5 Applications

Dr Abe V Rotor

1. Weeping Willow (Salix sp) - Insect Repellant and Air Freshener

The mere mention of this plant - weeping willow - evokes negative feelings. Imagine its growth habit, instead if being erect, it droops. Its branches hang freely downward, its dense lance-shape leaves hiding any view from underneath the tree and around. The tree curtains the banks of lakes and ponds, its heavy branches swaying with the current. Superstitious gardeners have second thought having the tree growing near the house.

But many of us don't realize that the plant is important not only as an ornamental. The leaves exude volatile eucalyptus- or camphor-like oil that is aromatic, it soothes tired feeling, and freshens the room. It is aromatherapy.

When crushed, the crude extract is a substitute of commercial insect repellant. Lightly rub on exposed part of the body with or without dilution of water and you will keep mosquitoes, flies and midges at bay. Place fresh or dried leaves under the bed and you drive bedbugs, lice and mites away. Powdered leaves rid chicken of lice (gayamo, Ilk.)

Do you practice smudging orchard trees? Add some dried leaves of weeping willow and you also fumigate the harmful insects. It works like "katol" - and is much safer.

Why not crush some leaves and place them in an open wide mouth bottle to serve as deodorant? Decorate the container like a corner chandelier or flower base, and all you need is replace now and then the crushed leaves with fresh ones. This is alternative to poisonous naphthalene.

If you need a repellant always ready for use, dry mature leaves of the plant, pulverize, add ethanol or ethyl alcohol to dissolve the extract. Filter and keep the filtrate in a tight bottle. This is mother stock, which you can dilute with water when you use it as skin insect repellant. You can adjust the dilution from mild to strong, depending on who is going to use it, and how annoying are the pests.

Why don't you plant weeping willow in your garden? Just keep it out of view from the window if someone complains.

2. Banana Stalk for Packaging

This is to re-introduce an old folks' way of packaging using folded banana stalk as shown in these photos. It is highly efficient, versatile, economical and environment-friendly.

Flowers of himbaba-o or alokong (Ilk), a wild vegetable can remain fresh even after three days inside  banana stalk. A single stalk is stripped from the trunk and folded according to desired size.

This method of packaging is ideal for live fish like dalag and hito. These fish can remain alive for several days in transport and rough handling. Their resistance is traced to their habit of aestivating in summer while encrust in mud. Packaging in banana stalk is simulating aestivation.

Banana stalk is used in packaging are highly perishable and breakable items, which include many succulent vegetables, ripe fruits, cut flowers, and eggs.

Note the cross-section of banana stalk. It is actually made of a series of chambers that works on the principle of a radiator. That's how efficient its cooling effect is. These chambers trap oxygen and moisture which also explains why sliced banana stalk is a good substitute of ice pack to reduce fever.

The columnar arrangement of the chambers supported by thick outer and inner walls absorb impact of rough handling, and makes the whole structure virtually crush-proof. It is from this that the corrugated cardboard was invented.

Why don't you try packaging with banana stalk farm goods you wish to send to the city? It is a way of  "bridging our folks in the province with those in the in the city."

3. Get rid of dog ticks with crushed atis leaves

Ticks are the most pernicious and tenacious pest of dogs, especially dogs that freely roam around.

Ticks are very resistant. They suck blood throughout their life, engorging themselves many times their own body weight. They may leave a dog virtually a walking skeleton. And they live very long, staying dormant in some dusty corner or crevices at home, sidewalk and thickets, then jump onto a passing potential host and start a new infestation.

Ticks are Arachnids to which spiders and mites belong. They are relatives of insects, crustaceans, and other Arthropods. Arachnids are recognized by having eight pairs of legs and two body segments - cephalothorax and abdomen.

Now this is what you can do to get rid of ticks. I learned this from Mrs. Paz, a regular listener to Paaralang Bayan sa Himpapawid. Crush mature leaves of sweetsop or atis (Anona squamosa) with mortar and pestle and collect the extract. You may add water to increase the volume. You may also make the crushed leaves into a pulp. Rub the extract or pulp on the whole body of the infested dog. . After an hour, bathe the dog with natural soap such as Perla. Repeat treatment after a week. Apply atis leaf extract in the dog house and surroundings. Treat other dogs at home to prevent cross-infestation.

Why not try this safe and simple remedy, instead of using commercial pesticides? Just as Mrs. Paz assured, it's really effective.

4. What to do when an ant has entered into the ear?When an insect, say an ant, has entered your ear, immediately plug the other ear. Tilt your head until it is on a perpendicular level with the affected ear upward. Keep still. The insect, sensing the pressure built up by plugging the other ear, crawls out to the open.

Do not pour oil or use cotton bud. If the technique fails, seek medical help immediately.

4. Fruit laden kapok means poor harvest
When you see plenty of dangling pods of cotton tree or kapok (Ceiba pentandra L), expect poor rice harvest. Kapok is sensitive to water stress. It does not have deep penetrating roots. Instead it has large spreading roots that depend largely on shallow water source.

To compensate for lack of water in summer, the tree stores a lot water in its fleshy trunk and branches like how cactus does while water supply lasts. When the stored water is not sufficient to tide up with the long, hot summer months, a triggering mechanism controlled by hormone stimulates the tree’s physiology. The plant bears flowers and ultimately fruits and seeds, a trait universal to any organism facing stress. This is the key to the perpetuation of the species. In short, Nature has provided a means with which an organism’s ultimate biological function to reproduce is carried on. And the more progeny it produces the more is the chance of the species to continue on.

5. Pristine Environment is indicated by abundance of lichens on trunks and branches of trees, rocks, and soil. There are three types: crustose (crust), foliose (leaf-like) and fruticose (fruiting type). They are biological indicators of clean air. The ultimate test is the abundance of the fruticose type of lichens, while the least is the crustose type. On the side of the animal world, the ultimate indicator of clean air and healthy environment is the abundance of fireflies. ~

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