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Mango
Mangifera indica

Description: This tree may reach 30 meters in height. It has alternate, simple, shiny, dark green leaves. Its flowers are small and inconspicuous. Its fruits have a large single seed. There are many cultivated varieties of mango. Some have red flesh, others yellow or orange, often with many fibers and a kerosene taste.

Habitat and Distribution: This tree grows in warm, moist regions. It is native to northern India, Burma, and western Malaysia. It is now grown throughout the tropics.

Edible Parts: The fruits area nutritious food source. The unripe fruit can be peeled and its flesh eaten by shredding it and eating it like a salad. The ripe fruit can be peeled and eaten raw. Roasted seed kernels are edible.

CAUTION

If you are sensitive to poison ivy, avoid eating mangoes, as they cause a severe reaction in sensitive individuals.







Manioc
Manihot utillissima

Description: Manioc is a perennial shrubby plant, 1 to 3 meters tall, with jointed stems and deep green, fingerlike leaves. It has large, fleshy rootstocks.

Habitat and Distribution: Manioc is widespread in all tropical climates, particularly in moist areas. Although cultivated extensively, it maybe found in abandoned gardens and growing wild in many areas.

Edible Parts: The rootstocks are full of starch and high in food value. Two kinds of manioc are known: bitter and sweet. Both are edible. The bitter type contains poisonous hydrocyanic acid. To prepare manioc, first grind the fresh manioc root into a pulp, then cook it for at least 1 hour to remove the bitter poison from the roots. Then flatten the pulp into cakes and bake as bread. Manioc cakes or flour will keep almost indefinitely if protected against insects and dampness. Wrap them in banana leaves for protection.

CAUTION

For safety, always cook the roots of either type.







Marsh marigold
Caltha palustris

Description: This plant has rounded, dark green leaves arising from a short stem. It has bright yellow flowers.

Habitat and Distribution: This plant is found in bogs, lakes, and slow-moving streams. It is abundant in arctic and subarctic regions and in much of the eastern region of the northern United States.

Edible Parts: All parts are edible if boiled.

CAUTION

As with all water plants, do not eat this plant raw. Raw water plants may carry dangerous organisms that are removed only by cooking.





Mulberry
Morus species

Description: This tree has alternate, simple, often lobed leaves with rough surfaces. Its fruits are blue or black and many seeded.

Habitat and Distribution: Mulberry trees are found in forests, along roadsides, and in abandoned fields in Temperate and Tropical Zones of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Edible Parts: The fruit is edible raw or cooked. It can be dried for eating later.

CAUTION

When eaten in quantity, mulberry fruit acts as a laxative. Green, unripe fruit can be hallucinogenic and cause extreme nausea and cramps.



Other Uses: You can shred the inner bark of the tree and use it to make twine or cord.





Nettle
Urtica and Laportea species

Description: These plants grow several feet high. They have small, inconspicuous flowers. Fine, hairlike bristles cover the stems, leafstalks, and undersides of leaves. The bristles cause a stinging sensation when they touch the skin.

Habitat and Distribution: Nettles prefer moist areas along streams or at the margins of forests. They are found throughout North America, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern Europe.

Edible Parts: Young shoots and leaves are edible. Boiling the plant for 10 to 15 minutes destroys the stinging element of the bristles. This plant is very nutritious.

Other Uses: Mature stems have a fibrous layer that you can divide into individual fibers and use to weave string or twine.



Nipa palm
Nipa fruticans

Description: This palm has a short, mainly underground trunk and very large, erect leaves up to 6 meters tall. The leaves are divided into leaflets. A flowering head forms on a short erect stern that rises among the palm leaves. The fruiting (seed) head is dark brown and may be 30 centimeters in diameter.

Habitat and Distribution: This palm is common on muddy shores in coastal regions throughout eastern Asia.

Edible Parts: The young flower stalk and the seeds provide a good source of water and food. Cut the flower stalk and collect the juice. The juice is rich in sugar. The seeds are hard but edible.

Other Uses: The leaves are excellent as thatch and coarse weaving material.





Oak
Quercus species

Description: Oak trees have alternate leaves and acorn fruits. There are two main groups of oaks: red and white. The red oak group has leaves with bristles and smooth bark in the upper part of the tree. Red oak acorns take 2 years to mature. The white oak group has leaves without bristles and a rough bark in the upper portion of the tree. White oak acorns mature in 1 year.

Habitat and Distribution: Oak trees are found in many habitats throughout North America, Central America, and parts of Europe and Asia.

Edible Parts: All parts are edible, but often contain large quantities of bitter substances. White oak acorns usually have a better flavor than red oak acorns. Gather and shell the acorns. Soak red oak acorns in water for 1 to 2 days to remove the bitter substance. You can speed up this process by putting wood ashes in the water in which you soak the acorns. Boil the acorns or grind them into flour and use the flour for baking. You can use acorns that you baked until very dark as a coffee substitute.

CAUTION

Tannic acid gives the acorns their bitter taste. Eating an excessive amount of acorns high in tannic acid can lead to kidney failure. Before eating acorns, leach out this chemical.



Other Uses: Oak wood is excellent for building or burning. Small oaks can be split and cut into long thin strips (3 to 6 millimeters thick and 1.2 centimeters wide) used to weave mats, baskets, or frameworks for packs, sleds, furniture, etc. Oak bark soaked in water produces a tanning solution used to preserve leather.



Orach
Atriplex species

Description: This plant is vinelike in growth and has arrowhead-shaped, alternate leaves up to 5 cenitmeters long. Young leaves maybe silver-colored. Its flowers and fruits are small and inconspicuous.

Habitat and Distribution: Orach species are entirety restricted to salty soils. They are found along North America's coasts and on the shores of alkaline lakes inland. They are also found along seashores from the Mediterranean countries to inland areas in North Africa and eastward to Turkey and central Siberia.

Edible Parts: The entire plant is edible raw or boiled.



Palmetto palm
Sabal palmetto

Description: The palmetto palm is a tall, unbranched tree with persistent leaf bases on most of the trunk. The leaves are large, simple, and palmately lobed. Its fruits are dark blue or black with a hard seed.

Habitat and Distribution: The palmetto palm is found throughout the coastal regions of the southeastern United States.

Edible Parts: The fruits are edible raw. The hard seeds may be ground into flour. The heart of the palm is a nutritious food source at any time. Cut off the top of the tree to obtain the palm heart.



Papaya or pawpaw
Carica papaya

Description: The papaya is a small tree 1.8 to 6 meters tall, with a soft, hollow trunk. When cut, the entire plant exudes a milky juice. The trunk is rough and the leaves are crowded at the trunk's apex. The fruit grows directly from the trunk, among and below the leaves. The fruit is green before ripening. When ripe, it turns yellow or remains greenish with a squashlike appearance.

Habitat and Distribution: Papaya is found in rain forests and semievergreen seasonal forests in tropical regions and in some temperate regions as well. Look for it in moist areas near clearings and former habitations. It is also found in open, sunny places in uninhabited jungle areas.

Edible Parts: The ripe fruit is high in vitamin C. Eat it raw or cock it like squash. Place green fruit in the sun to make it ripen quickly. Cook the young papaya leaves, flowers, and stems carefully, changing the water as for taro.

CAUTION

Be careful not to get the milky sap from the unripe fruit into your eyes. It will cause intense pain and temporary--sometimes even permanent--blindness.



Other Uses: Use the milky juice of the unripe fruit to tenderize tough meat. Rub the juice on the meat.


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