Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Dumb Cane (Dieffenbachia picta)

*Disclaimer: Writer of this post is unsure as to the species of Dieffenbachia photographed below. If a reader has information verifying the species, corrections will be appreciated.

Though a popular houseplant, ours grows well in the garden, and are quite abundant too. It's been in our garden for as long as I can remember.

The Dieffenbachia genus is notorious for its poison; slaves in the olden days were made to chew on its leaves, and its sap was also used for arrow poison. The entire plant is poisonous, so you must take extreme care in handling one. Even a small amount of sap, if in contact with the tongue, can cause extreme swelling, burning pain, and paralysis of the tongue and throat, causing loss of speech for days. Hence the name "Dumb Cane".

Chewing the leaf, or ingesting large amounts of the sap can lead to severe swelling of the throat, so bad that one will no longer be able to breathe. If drops of sap enter the eye, the eyelids can be stuck closed for several days!

Now now, don't get any ideas about dipping a foul-mouthed or lying frenemy's toothbrush into the sap!

How sweet it is...


Saturday, May 5, 2007

Gumamela (Hibiscus rosa-sinensis)

The Gumamela is one of my favorite flowers because of its aesthetic appeal. Seeing this flower also brings about images of being near the beach, with sunny skies and warm weather. The state flower of Hawaii, it is also widely cultivated in the Philippines for ornamental purposes.

The utility and medicinal properties of the Gumamela's flower, leaves and roots have been known since ancient times. It is also known as Shoeflower, because in the olden days the juice of its flower would be used to shine shoes.

Not only does it possess much ornamental and aesthetic value, but once you find out how you can benefit from its medicinal properties, you just might consider growing this shrub in your home garden. You never know when you might run out of Bisolvon. And, knock on wood, if you ever get *un*lucky and get (gasp!)... gonnorhea!

A decoction of the flowers and/or leaves can be used to treat bronchitis, cough, fever, urinary and bladder infections, high blood pressure, constipation, menstrual pain, and as an aphrodisiac.

A poultice can be applied to treat mumps, headaches, swellings, boils, and carbuncles.

Decoctions of the roots of the red and white flowers, in particular, can be used to treat venereal diseases, and as an antidote to poison.

And for those who need (or want) to stimulate hair growth (on your head, where else?!): mix equal portions the juice of the flowers and olive oil, boil until the water has evaporated, and apply.


I didn't know our garden would lure these new... visitors? Residents?

I personally never liked frogs, but they're a sign that our garden is healthy and has its own little ecosystem going well. They're great for the garden and eat up the insects, although I now have to take extra precaution in making sure that my dog doesn't wander around the garden, and take a curious lick at them because their skin could be potentially toxic!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Juvenile Garden Fun #001

1) Chance upon mysterious soft fruit or vegetable.

2) Pick and taste to determine course of action. (If tasty, eat one whole and wait. If you do not die within thirty minutes, proceed to stuff your face. If bland, proceed to Step 3.)

3) Hurl at walls and people. Repeat from Step 1.