Saturday, August 9, 2008
Lubi-lubi (Ficus pseudopalma)
This plant looks like a palm but is actually part of the ficus or fig family, only with no branches and with saw-like long leaves. Inside, the "fruit" is actually lined with little flowers, which hold in them the seeds. It snaps easily and is good for mulching. You can use it to wrap food, as well.
Grown in metropolitan areas as an ornamental, the young leaves of the Philippine fig (as it is known in other countries) can actually be cooked in coconut milk, sometimes with meat or fish, especially in Bicol. The Department of Science and Technology found this to be one of the most promising wild endemic edibles in the country.
The Bicolano name is lubi-lubi, while Tagalog is niyog-niyogan. Lubi means coconut in Bicol, while niyog means the same in Tagalog. This is probably because the plant looks like a small and comical coconut tree, with its trunk likewise taking shape with indentations left by fallen leaves and fruit. In any case, both names are shared with other, completely unrelated species of plants, so be careful when researching!
Aside from being eaten, the small tree is also used in folk medicine. A decoction of the leaves is useful for diabetes and kidney-related ailments.
I spotted it while walking around and took some young leaves to cook and some fruit to plant. While it is widespread, the lubi-lubi is categorized by conservation experts as a vulnerable species.
Posted by Bea