Posts Tagged ‘tree’

Domestic Apple – Malus domestica

MacIntosh Apple, immature and still on the tree
MacIntosh Apple, immature and still on the tree

A Drop Fell on the Apple Tree—

Another—on the Roof—

A Half a Dozen kissed the Eaves—

And made the Gables laugh—

By Emily Dickinson


This native of Central Asia is grown just about anywhere people want it now. China, Turkey, France, Italy (the largest producers worldwide) and the United States all have healthy populations of apple trees. This medium tall tree grows well with other plants. In companion planting it is noted to produce better quality fruit if grown with foxglove or wallflowers; if the ground cover in the orchard is mainly clover the fruit stores better; grow any of the alliums under apples and it helps prevent or cure scab; finally I found this note… ‘If climbing nasturtiums are grown into the tree they can repel woolly aphids.’

In herbal medicine apples are suggested for the treatment of intestinal infections, constipation, mental and physical fatigue, hypertension, rheumatism, gout, anemia, bronchitis, urine retention, hepatic disorders, gastric and kidney malfunctions, hoarseness, coughing, and excess cholesterol in the blood.

At one point, when my eldest daughter was a wee little one we lived in South Carolina. She developed diarrhea that did not respond to any thing the doctor prescribed. An older neighbor lady suggested I give her honey sweetened tea and some applesauce. According to her the pectin in the apples and the tannin in the tea would do the trick. Within 6 hours of starting her regimen, the diarrhea was over and my baby was back to nursing, and being happy!

Super Sin-ple Applesauce

To make applesauce, all you need to do is quarter as many apples as you want, place them in a deep pan with just a small amount of water, so they don’t stick. Turn the heat on medium and allow the apples to simmer (keeping an eye on the liquid so that it doesn’t stick or burn) until the apples are so soft they are breaking down and separating from the skins.

You then put them through a Foley food mill, which will smash the apples and separate the skins and seeds out easily. If you made enough to can, follow basic water bath directions. Save some to eat tonight! Personally we add cinnamon to ours, it is sooo good!

Check out the first post on apples here

Coconut – Cocos nucifera

Sacred to: Hina (Tahitian Moon goddess), Lakshmi (Hindu goddess of well-bring and wealth)

Myth 1: Samoans believed that a coconut tree, called the ~Tree of Leosia of the Watcher, ~ grew at the entrance to Pulotu, the World of Spirits

Myth 2: According to the Maoris, the coconut sprung from the head of the eel-god Tuna who had been sacrificed to redeem mankind. Unripe nuts represented heaven and the underworld

Myth 3: According to a legend from Tahiti, the first coconut came from the head of an eel named Tuna. When the moon goddess Hina fell in love with the eel, her brother, Maui, killed it and told her to plant the head in the ground. However, Hina left the head beside a stream and forgot about it. When she remembered Maui’s instructions and returned to search for the head, she found that it had grown into a coconut tree.

Myth 4: Some Sri Lankans say that the coconut tree sprung from the head of where an astrologer was buried. Others say that it originated from where the head of a horrible monster had been buried.

Myth 5: The Dyaks of Borneo transfer the souls of their newborns to coconut shells to protect them for the first year of life. Fijians believe that the fate of the child is tied to the coconut tree so they plant a new tree when a baby is born. Coconut shells are used to bury the afterbirth in the Philippines.

Other Notes: The nuts are an essential part of Hindu religious ceremonies such as weddings. They symbolize complete usefulness, selfless service, prosperity and generosity.

In northern India, it is the fruit of the “Tree of Life,” where coconuts are kept by priests to dispense as a fertility symbol to women who wish to conceive.

On the other hand, in Bali, women are forbidden to touch coconut palms for fear of draining the fertility of the tree into the woman.

In New Guinea, it is believed that the palm sprouted from the head of the first man to die.

Hainuwele – A Coconut Creation Myth

This creation myth comes from the Maluku Islands in Indonesia and tells the story of Hainuwele, the coconut-girl.

A long time ago a man named Ameta, out hunting, came on a wild boar. Trying to escape, the boar was drowned in a lake. On its tusk Ameta found a coconut. That night he dreamed of the coconut and was commanded to plant it, which he did the next morning.

In three days a coconut palm sprang up, and three days later it flowered. Ameta climbed it to cut some flowers and make a drink from them. But he cut his finger and the blood dropped on a flower. Nine days later he found a girl-child on the flower. Ameta took her and wrapped her in coconut fronds. In three days the child became a marriageable girl, and he named her Hainuwele (‘coconut branch’).

Hainuwele had a strange gift – she could excrete valuable objects – jewels and precious metals. During the great Maro festival Hainuwele stood in the middle of the dancing place and for nine nights she distributed gifts to the dancers. But on the ninth day the men decided that her talent meant she was a witch. They dug a grave in the middle of the dancing place and threw Hainuwele into it during the dance. The grave was filled in and men danced on it.

The next morning, seeing that Hainuwele did not come home, Ameta divined that she had been murdered. He found the body, disinterred it, and cut it into pieces, which he buried in various places, except the arms.

The buried pieces gave birth to plants previously unknown, especially to tubers, which since then are the chief food of human beings.

Ameta took Hainuwele’s arms to another Goddess, Satene. Satene drew a spiral with nine turns on a dancing ground and placed herself at the centre of it. From Hainuwele’s arms she made a door, and summoned the dancers. ‘Since you have killed,’ she said, ‘I will no longer live here. I shall leave this very day. Now you will have to come to me through this door.’ Those who were able to pass through it remained human beings. The others were changed into animals (pigs, birds, fish) or spirits. Satene announced that after her going men would meet her only after their death, and she vanished from the surface of the Earth.

Sina and the Eel – A Legend in Samoan Mythology

On the island of Savai’i in Samoa, one version of the legend tells of a beautiful girl called Sina who had a small pet Tuna. When the Tuna grew, it fell in love with Sina. This made the girl afraid. She tried to run away, but the Tuna followed her. Sina finally sought refuge in a village, and thinking that she had escaped, went to the village pool to get water.

However, when Sina looked into the pool, she saw the Tuna staring up at her.

Angry, she cried ‘You stare at me, with eyes like a demon!’ or in the Samoan language, ‘E pupula mai, ou mata o le alelo!’ Village chiefs came and killed the Tuna. As the Tuna was dying, it asked Sina to plant its head in the ground. Sina followed the Tuna’s request, and planted its head in the ground. A coconut tree grew from the ground. When the husk is removed from a coconut, there are three round marks which appear like the face of the Tuna with two eyes and a mouth. One of the marks is pierced for drinking the coconut, and hence when Sina takes a drink, she is kissing the Tuna.

In Samoa, the fresh spring pool Mata o le Alelo in the small village of Matavai, Safune, is associated with the legend of Sina and the Eel. The pool is named after Sina’s words to the Tuna in the legend. The pool is open to visitors.

Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887

Koehler's Medicinal-Plants 1887

Coconut – Cocos nucifera

Coconut or Monkey faced fruit
Coconut or Monkey faced fruit

…I wish I were a coconut,
People shout that is absurd,
I wish I were a coconut,
And that’s my final word.

By Jacob T Blow

 (to read the rest of the poem)

The actual origin of this palm is in question, some say the Coconut Palm is from the Ganges Delta region while others insist it is from northwestern South America. Regardless this is one of the most useful plants to man of all time, with every part being useful in some way! The Indonesians says “There is a different use for coconuts for every day of the year.” In Sanskrit the Coconut is called kalpa vriksha, which means “tree which gives all that is necessary for living.”


The Coconut in herbal medicine can be employed by using the pressed juice of the root for dysentery (bloody diarrhea). In the Philippines the fruits are processed into oil or milk and used for its refrigerant, aperient, diuretic, anthelmintic, and purgative properties. The roots are used for coughs due to its astringency.


In the Solomon Islands the water from a young nut is fed to infants with diarrhea, and in emergencies, used intravenously as a saline drip substitute. The young leaves are chewed to a paste and applied to cuts to act as a styptic (stop bleeding). During WWII the coconut water was given intravenously as a substitute for blood plasma when none was available, saving many a life!


As a food the water is sterile till the drupe is cracked, and therefore provides a clean source of water when all else is contaminated by natural disaster. The nut meat is often used, in grated form to make cookies, cakes, candies, even a form of egg nog popular in Puerto Rico. The coco leaves are used in the Philippines to wrap rice for cooking and storage.


Additional uses of the coconut and its parts are…..The charred husk is used as a black dye, and the coconut oil is used much like a mordant, deepening and setting colors. The male flowers were heated in coconut oil and used to perfume fabric, while the bark is used to scent body oil. Coconut oil with other botanicals added (Tahitian gardenia and/or ylang ylang) is used for massage and for hair treatments. The leaves are used in making mats, thatched roofs, and baskets. The uses of the various parts seem endless!

Lemon – Citrus × limon

A Lemon on the tree

A Lemon on the tree

“Lemon tree oh so pretty,

and the lemon flower is sweet,

but the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”


Written by Will Holt

Preformed by Peter, Paul and Mary


This native citrus of northern India is only found in cultivation today, the wild populations have been eradicated. Cultivation has been ongoing for centuries and 47 varieties have been developed. In Asia it was widely used for its antiseptic properties. In 700 AD it was introduced to Egypt and Iraq. The first recorded evidence of its use was found in an Arabic farming treatise of the tenth century were it was stated it was used as an ornamental in early gardens.


Lemons are a well known astringent that works well as a gargle for sore throats, as a lotion for sunburn, and in uterine bleeding post delivery. It has also been used to cure hiccough and treat jaundice. The British Navy requires all ships that will be out to sea for more than 10 days to carry sufficient Lemon or lime juice so that every sailor may have a 1 ounce dose daily to fight scurvy!


It has been used as a cooling drink in feverish situations, allaying thirst, for rheumatism, and occasionally to counteract narcotic poisoning. The rind is used in preparations to help cover the taste of medicines in allopathic medicine.


Lemon is popular in cooking as well….lemon juice has been used with fish for centuries…did you know it is because the juice neutralizes the fishy odor? Water and iced tea (sometimes hot teas as well) are served with a slice or wedge of lemon, and in Europe colas are often offered with lemon as well!


When used in marinate for meat it works by partially hydrolyzing tough cuts of meat to make them more tender and palatable. Lemons can be used to make marmalade, a liqueur named Limoncello is made from the rind, and the zest is added to baked goods, puddings, rice and other dishes for flavor.


Lemons are also popular in cosmetic use:

            Lemon hair lightener…the juice applied to the hair acts as a natural highlighter

            Deodorant…raw lemon can be used as a short term deodorant

            Skin bleach…the juice has been used to lighten skin blemishes, the effectiveness is questionable

            Acne treatment… just apply the juice to blemishes

            Facial masks…often added to facial masks for a refreshing treatment

Tulip Poplar – Liriodendron tulipifera

Tulip Poplar flower
Tulip Poplar flower

This tall tree of North America is a rapid grower, attaining heights of 80 to 120 feet. In 1807 Thomas Jefferson planted a pair of these west of the house at Monticello, today they stand over 120 feet tall! It can grow as much as 10 feet per summer, making it a good choice for rapid shade production where other trees have been cleared out! Unfortunately some people find the flower litter irritating enough not to want this tree around!

The trunk is long and straight, allowing it to be used for canoe making during the Revolutionary period. The wood is relatively soft allowing it to be hallowed out easily to a thin wall. Its use for this purpose also led to the adoption of the name Canoewood tree. Although it is generally considered safe for humans, the sap or sawdust can cause allergic reactions, including dermatitis due to the presence of hydrochlorate of tulipferine, an alkaloid.

The wood of this tree was used to build furniture, for construction, interior finishes and also plywood. But the most important feature of this tree, this time of year is the scent the flowers produce. The scent of nectar draws hummingbirds, cardinals and finches making this a great wildlife attractant! Bees also find it attractive, making it one of the major honey plants in the eastern United States. The honey the bees create from this nectar is dark, reddish and fairly strong flavored.

Even white tailed deer and squirrels find this tree attractive….they feed upon the fruit and twigs in the winter lean months.

To check out how this tree was used for food, medicine and dye check out my first post about it at…

Bradford Pear – Pyrus calleryana

Bradford Pear flowers
Bradford Pear flowers

This tree is a cultivar of one brought to North America around 1908 to breed a tree that was disease resistant, this proved futile, but the Bradford cultivar proved to be resistant to smog and a good street tree. It was introduced by the USDA in 1963 for this ornamental purpose. It is short lived (around 25 yrs) and fragile in high winds or when snow or ice accumulate on the branches.

The fruit is considered inedible, but a recipe for wine was found on the internet. (Found at the Wine Making Homepage by Jack Keller…

Animals find the fruit fine for eating after the first hard frost. They spread the seed in their dung. In many states the Bradford Pear is considered an invasive species, and people are discouraged from planting them.

Another drawback for planting this tree is the contrast of the flowers to how they smell. Although the flowers are very pretty to look at, the flowers are strongly aromatic and the scent has been described as smelling like tune fish gone bad!

Cherry – Prunus serrulata

Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms
Kwanzan Cherry Blossoms

“What a strange thing!
to be alive
beneath cherry blossoms.”

-Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828)


This tree is the epitome of spring. Every year spring is celebrated through the Cherry Festival in Washington, D.C. It is one of the most planted ornamental trees in the world. It is ideal for planting near sidewalks or near patios for a smaller shade tree. This tree was introduced to America in 1902.

‘In 1885 travel writer and photographer Eliza Ruhamah Scidmore of the U.S. started working with the Japanese government to arrange for cherry trees to be planted along the Potomac River in Washington, D.C. After years of negotiations the people of Tokyo donated 3,000 cherry trees to the people of Washington. On March 27, 1912, Helen Taft (wife of the U.S. president) and Viscountess Chinda (wife of the Japanese Ambassador) planted the first two cherry trees. Approximately 150 of the original 1912 trees, including the first two planted, are still alive.’

In Japan there is a legend that each spring a fairy maiden hovers low in the warm sky, wakening the sleeping Cherry trees to life with her delicate breath. This tree, along with its cousin the “Yoshino” Cherry tree, is responsible for the spectacular pink color show each spring in Washington, D.C

The fruit of this tree is small, with very little flesh, but with a large seed. It causes clothing, sidewalks, and patios to become stained when they fall. A green dye can be obtained from the leaves. A dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.

The Kwanzan Cherry Has little or no food (they are edible, but do not taste very good, best left for the birds) uses, and absolutely nothing noted for medical uses.

Kanzan is an old Japanese poetic word meaning “bordering mountain”. The word conjured an image of a “native land or village of one’s birth that lay in a valley.” It is unclear why this word was applied to a cherry. ‘Kanzan’ is also called ‘Sekiyama’ or ‘Sekizan.’ ‘Kwanzan’ is believed by some to be an obsolete spelling of ‘Kanzan’.