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Australian National Botanical Gardens

Australian National Botanical Gardens
* GPO Box 1777 * Canberra, Australia Capital Territory * 2601 * Australia * +61 2 6250 9599 * http://www.anbg.gov.au/ *

In the heart of Australia’s Capital Territory and City of Canberra is the Nation’s most exquisite National Botanical Gardens. Radiating like a gem in the midland plains, this fabulous collection of Eucalypti, plants, trees, shrubs, vines, orchids, and botany is any garden lover’s paradise. It is operated by the Australian Government’s Department of the Environment and Heritage. The park encompasses the largest living collection of native Australian flora in the world. The goal of the center is to understand, study, and promote Australia’s flora locally, regionally, and around the world; hosting a variety of botanical resources for researchers while protecting and cultivating endangered native plants. The Garden was first conceived in Canberra’s development plans of the 1930’s when the Advisory Council set up a framework for its development, planning a large site on Black Mountain. The first trees were planted in September 1949, though not opening its gates until October of 1970. The Gardens encompass over 90 hectares on Black Mountain, of which 40 is currently developed and embracing thematic sections in the park housing plants with shared taxonomy of over 5,500 cultivated species. The Gardens have a Rainforest Gully, a Rocky Garden, A Sydney Region Flora area, A Mallee Plants section, Banksias, waratahs, grevilleas, Callistemon, Leptospermum, Melaleuca, A Eucalypt Lawn, Wattles, and a Research facility, gift shop, and cafe. The National Herbarium is also on site housing the largest collection of dried, pressed, and recorded plant specimens in Australia. The facility manages several large plant databases of Australian plants based on its collections. For any botanist or plant enthusiast, the Botanical Gardens is a must see while in Canberra. “Extroadinary”. Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5. Visited on April 24, 2011 by Thomas Baurley.

Australian National Botanical Gardens: Botanical Resource Center

sign at the gardens: “Botanica Resource Center: Plant identification at your fingertips
The Botanical resource center is a learning place for visitors to discover, identify, and explore flor of the A.C.T. and southeastern N.S.W. This self help collection is available for use by students, plant surveyors, and people who want to learn more about plants. To explore this library of pressed plant specimens and computer plant identification resources contact the Australian National Botanical Gardens Visitor Centre.”

    Bibliography & Recommended Reading:

  • Australian National Botanical Gardens. ~ About Us. referenced in 2011 from website; ANBG: http://www.anbg.gov.au.
  • Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. ~ “Autralian Nationa
    l Botanical Gardens
    ; referenced in 2011 from website; author unknown. Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org.

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Eucalyptus


Eucalyptus Tree, Pine River Island, Canberra, ACT, Australia

Eucalyptus
Myrtaceae

Common Names:

“Eucalypts”, “Gum Trees”, “mallees”, “mallet”, “marlock”, “Apple Box”,

Taphonomy/Taxonomy:

Over 700 Species.

Localities:

Native to Australia, New Guinea, and Indonesia. Might be native to the Archipelagos of the Philippines as well as Taiwan. With over 700 Species, 691 are found in Australia, and 15 of the species can be found outside of Australia, with only 9 species not local to Australia. Eucalyptus species are found cultivated in other parts of the world, especially in tropical/subtropical regions in the Americas, Europe, the Mediterranean, Africa, the Middle East, China, and India.

Description:

One of the most dominant fast growing trees found in Australia, the Eucalypus is a diverse species of Myrtle Family trees and shrubs.Single stemmed with a crown forming a minor proportion of the tree height for the trees found in forests, and single stemmed with short branches above ground level for those in the woodlands. Those that are multi-stemmed from the ground level but rarely taller than 10 meter height are called “Mallees” and have crowns at the ends of the branchlets. Leaves are lanceolate shaped, alternate, petiolate, and waxy/glossy evergreen though some tropical species lose their leaves during termination of a dry season. The leaves are covered with oil glands. Mature trees have numerous full leafs and are towering giants offering patchy shade as the leaves droop downwards. Leaves of the seedlings are sometimes sessile, glaucous, and opposite. There are numerous differences between species. The flowers are very distinct for the Eucalyptus as well as its capsule/gumnut fruit. White, cream, pink/red, or yellow fluffy stamened flowers with no petals enclosed by a operculum cap composed of fused petals, sepals, or a combination. When the stamens expand, the operculum breaks off splitting from the cup-like flower base and is what gives to the naming of the tree. Fruis are cone-shaped, woody with valves at its ends that release the seeds. Full or Half Barks can range from smooth to textured, stringybarks, ironbarks, tessellated, boxed with short fibres, or ribbon barked with a satiny sheen as white, grey, green, copper, or cream colored. Dead bark can sometimes be retained in the lower half of the trunks/stems. Relating to the Gum Tree family as many species will release gummy sap where a break on a branch or the bark occurs. Its roots control sitting water, drainage, and irrigation. Some species of Eucalyptus are amongst the tallest trees in the world. The oils in the wood, bark, and leaves are highly flammable and can become explosive during forest fires.

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Common Box



Common Box
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland


Common Box
Buxus sempervirens [ Plantae: Magnoliophyta: Magnoliopsida: Buxales: Buxaceae: Buxus: Buxus sempervirens ]

Common Names: Common Box, European Box, Boxwood.

Localities:
It is native to coastal regions especially in western and southern Europe, Northwest Africa, southwest Asia, from southern England south to northern Morocco and east through the Mediterranean to Turkey.

Species:

Description:
The Common Box is a very dense small-leaved evergreen, growing usually naturally in coastal regions, and loves chalky soil. It hosts dark green to yellow-green oval glossy leathery leaves arranged in opposite pairs upwardcs of 15-30 mm long and 5-13 broad, that is home to a unusual sweet smell that gives blossom to small tufty yellow flowers in late winter. The flowers are hermaphrodite and inconspicuous, greenish-yellow, with no petals or insect pollinated and bears a 3-lobed capsule bearing fruit that contains from 3-6 seeds. It is slow growing and shade tolerant. It grows upward of 1-9 meters tall with upwards of a 20 cm diamtere trunk. The box loves soil derived from chalk, limestone, and is often found as an understory in forests of larger trees.

Cultivation:
Box works best in most normal soils, especially chalky soils, and where it can reach its ultimate height of 30 feet. Its used to being exposed to the wind absorbing that impact. It grows 4-6 inches a year on average, likes dry shade and wet sites.

Common Uses:
Commonly usd for topiary work, landscaping, and gardening especially as hedges. Wood is very hard and heavy which puts excellent applications as a base wood for cabinets, clarinets, engravings, marquetry, woodturning, tool handles, mallet heads, and as a substitute for ivory.

Culinary Uses:

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves were once used as an alternate for quinine and used to reduce fevers. Box contains the alkaloid “buxine” that causes vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, muscular spasms, and paralysis. The leaves are poisonous. Also planted to keep livestock out of gardens. Oils from the leaves can cause skin rashes. Buxine will also cause respiratory paralysis in humans and livestock. Some of it has also been used as a chemotherapeutic agent in cancer therapy. French works claim an extract made from Box is helpful in reducing the amount of HIV virus in an infected person.

Magical Uses:

Folklore and History: The plant is named after the latin name “Buxus” for “box” because of its use in making small, finely carved boxes called “pyxos” in Greece. “Buxus” is also Latin for “Flute”. “Box” is believed not to be able to be read by sorcerers and witches who usually can tell you the numbers of every branch, twig, and leaf of every plant – but box. Apparently the “Box” is so compact that when a witch tries to count the tiny leaves, she loses her place and has to start again. It is believed to be planted by doorways to prevent witches from entry – as it should captivate the witches attention and have them stop to count the leaves over and over again forgetting about entry into the house. Also planting in a flower bed will distract witches wishing to steal plants as it is an ingredient in flying ointments.


Common Box
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

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The Yew Tree


Yew Tree
The Poison Garden, Blarney Castle, Ireland

European Yew
Taxus baccata [ Plantae: Pinophyta: Pinopsida: Pinales: Taxaceae: Taxus: T. baccata ]

Common Names:
Yew,

Localities:
The European Yew is a conifer that is native to Western, Central, and Southern Europe as well as Northwest Africa, Northern Iran, and Southwest Asia.

Description:
The Common Yew was amongst the first species to be described by Linnaeus belonging to family Taxaceae. The tree is a small to medium sized evergreen tree that grows approximately 10-20 meters tall (33-66 feet), though has been known to reach 92 feet (28 m) The trunk can become up to 2 meters thick (6 ft) though has been found in odd cases upwards of 13 feet thick in diameter. The Yew tree’s bark is thin, scaly brown and comes off in small flakes that is aligned with the stem. Its leaves are lanceolate, flat, and dark green upwards of 1-4 centimeters long and 2-3 millimters broad that are arranged spirally on a stem with the leaf bases twisted to align the leaves in two flat rows on either side of the stem, except on erect leading shoots when the spiral arrangement is more obvious. The seed cones are highly modified with each one containing a single seed that are 4-7 millimeters long and partly surrounded by a modified scale that can develop into a soft bright red berry-like composition called an aril, approximately 8-15 millimeters long and wide, open at the end. These mature 6-9 months after pollination. The seeds are often eaten by a variety of birds such as waxwings and thrushes who disperse the hard seeds undamaged in their droppings. The arils mature over 2-3 months adding to the successful seed dispersal. The seeds are extremely poisonous and biter, but opened and eaten by some bird species such as the great tits and the hawfinches. Male cones are globose and size 3-6 millimters in diameter, shedding their pollen in early spring. They are mostly dioecious but can be variably monoecious and change sex with time. Yews are slow growing and can be long-living, with some trunks having exceeded 2,000 years old (such as The Fortingall Yew in Perthshire, Scotland). Age is difficult to determine with the Yew wood because rarely any wood on the tree is as old as the entire tree since the boughs hollow out with age, making ring counts impossible. There are some Yew trees believed to be 5,000-9,500 years old based on archaeological evidence of surrounding structures incorporated with the trees. has been estimated at 2,000 years old. It is the longest living tree in all of Europe.

Cultivation:
The yew can be propagated through cuttings, seed, graftings or layering. Yews prefer a moist, fertile, sandy loam soil, but can grow well in most soils, especially chalk, but not in water-logged ground or sticky wet clay. The yew can flourish in the shade of taller trees, but little will grow in their own shadows.

Common Uses:
The Yew, especially the Irish Yew, is commonly used in landscaping and ornamental horticulture, and are used especially for formal hedges and topiary.
A 450,000 year old wooden spearhead, made out of yew, is one of the world’s oldest wooden artifacts found at Clacton-on-sea,in Essex, UK. It is the choice of woods used for constructing longbows. Yew has also been utilized for making spears, spikes, staves, and small hunting bows. Arrows tipped in a poison made from Yew leaves was commonplace in the Middle Ages. European historical construction of bows from the Yew tree caused severe damage to the livlihood of the species and throughout history saw numerous bans of its harvest. Yew wood was also used to create wheels and cogs, spoons, handles, bowls and any turned items, also found in the body of the lute, and within sacred carvings.

Culinary Uses:
The seeds and leaves are highly poisonous. The only part of the tree that is not poisonous is the aril and the wood. The aril is gelatinous and very sweet tasting.

Medicinal Uses:
The seeds and leaves are highly poisonous. The major toxin is the alkaloid taxane remaining toxic even when the foliage is wilted or dried. Horses have the lowest tolerance to Yew leaves, with a lethal dose of 200-400 mg/kg body weight while other livestock are less vulnerable. Symptoms of Yew poisoning is muscle tremors, convulsions, coldness, difficulty breathing, staggering gait, collapse, and eventual heart failure. Death is rapid. Fatal poisoning in humans are rare except if ingesting alot of yew foliage (estimated between 50-100 grams). It has been used for phyotherapy as published in the Canon of Medicine in 1021. It was used for cardiac remedy in a drug named “Zarnab” as a calcium channel blocker drug not in wide use in the Western world until the 1960’s. This was an early precursor to the chemotherapy drug called Paclitaxel that were made from the leaves of the European Yew. In the Himalayas it is used to treat breast and ovary cancer. Conflicts in 1990 against the harvesting of paclitaxel for cancer treatment from the Pacific Yew has stunted use. Some lore claims it was used to stimulate abortion.

Magical Uses:
It was traditional to take a yew branch on All Saint’s Day to the tombs of those who died recently so that they would find the guide to return from the Land of Shadows. Traditionally yews are planted in graveyards, near chapels, churches, and cemeteries as a symbol of transcendance of death. They are also found in the main squares of villages to bring all together. Often planted as a symbol for long life or as trees of death. Yew wood commonly used to make magical wands and/or staves. The yew represents immortality, renewal, regeneration, everlasting life, rebirth, transformation and access to the Otherworld and the ancestors. Many churchyards once stood in a circle of Yew, based on the churches being built over ancient Druid sacred groves. It is one of the most potent trees for protecting against evil and to bring dreams and otherworldly journeys. The Yew often represents old magic. In hot weather, it gives off a resinous vapor that shamans inhale to gain visions. The Yew is the last of the 20 trees in the Tree Ogham used for divination, prophecy, and a mnenomic device for learning. In Ogham, it is the “Idho” as a link to spiritual guidance through ancestors and guardians of the Otherworlds. It also represents death and resurrection or renewal in the Ogham. Yew used in divining rods can be used to find lost property.

Folklore and History:
The name “Yew” comes from the Proto-Germanic “*?wa-” and with possible origination from the Gaulish “ivos”. Word refers to the color “brown”. “Baccata” is latin for “Bearing red berries”. To the Celts, the Yew Tree has extroadinary supernatural power and importance. It was believed to be linked with the land, the people, the ancestors, and to the ancient religion. The tree is sacred to the Goddess Hecate and the Crone aspects of the Triple Goddess. The Yew was often seen as guardians of the Underworld, death, and the afterlife. It was a common ancient poison. Tribal leaders were often buried beneath the Yew as believed its dryad or tree spirit would join with them.


Yew Tree

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Faerie Trees

Faerie Trees

United Kingdom and Ireland

Faerie trees are mythical hotspots of otherworldly and/or faerie activity. Faerie trees are seen as the haunts of Faeries. They are fiercely protected by the Fae. It is believed that any human foolish enough to pass by a host-tree late at night will find their arms bruised or pinched by small faerie fingers. Three thorn trees growing closely together are especially potent. Thorn trees hung with ribbons or rags are good gifts to faeries of the tree. Faerie trees are most associated with the Oak, Ash, and Thorn. Sometimes it is associated with the Rowan tree. Others claim its the Elder, Blackthorn, Hazel, and/or Alder. The trees most twisted together are the most notorious of faerie trees – and this is common amongst the Elder. If two thorns and an elder are found together it warns of great danger as do Oak, Ash, and Thorn. In the British Isles, the Rowan is believed to protect one from witchcraft and enchantment. Its berries opposite its stalk display tiny five pointed stars or pentagrams which are notable protective symbols. Color red, as in the flavor of the berry, is also seen as a protection against enchantment. The tree is believed to afford protection to the dwellings by which it grew and often people would take branches of the tree to be carried for personal protection from witchcraft. The belief in them go back to classical mythology, whereas legends tell us that ‘Hebe’, the Goddess of youth, once dispensed rejuvenating ambrosia to the Gods from her magical chalice. When she lost this cup to demons, the Gods sent an eagle to recover the cup. The feathers and drops of blood which the eagle bled in the fight, fell to the earth, whereas each one of them turned into a Rowan tree – the legendary Faerie Tree. It is because of this it is believed that the Rowan derived the shape of its leaves from eagle’s feathers and its berries look like the droplets of blood. The Rowan is also prominent in Norse mythology as being the tree from where the first woman was made. The Mountain Ash were also associated as Faerie Trees which are the most well-known of the Rowan. The wood of the Rowan is often used for staves, wands, divining rods, and walking sticks. Berries are often used to make alcoholic drinks.


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6.12.10: Chronicles: WPP: Day 8 – Pixies of Penzance, Walk-a-bout, Hengestones, Madron Well


I have to say I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t hear any ruckus or moving’s about in the castle last night – except for a British bicyclist sharing the bunks who slapped his hands together at 4 am for either me or his bunkmate who was snoring in order to make it stop. I suppose he’s a sensitive sleeper who can’t sleep to snoring (not sure why he’s in a dorm room then …) Castle Horneck is supposedly haunted, but honestly can’t say I felt any presence of anything in the building other than the school kids running around, and older travellers like me. I found out late last night that Michael’s Mount (and most of all National parks in the area) is closed on saturdays as they figure everyone is out shopping about or being leisurely, and not necessarily looking into history … makes no sense to me. But hey, its a bit of a backwards country to what I’m used to – the English drive on the opposite side of the road and have enormous electrical plugs … takes some getting used to. So no need for googling the tidal schedules. Much to my quest’s purpose, clues to charms and blessings were abound. A late night talk with the receptionist at the Castle Horneck desk led me to an adventure I will never forget. I can only assume that through the chat with her upon my revealing that I was a archaeologist and her guessing correctly on my spiritual orientation that she revealed to me the map to Madron’s Holy Well and Wishing Tree. It was only a 2 hour round-trip hike. I figured I’d be back in plenty of time to wander about to Michael’s Mount, hit the tides, and at least walk onto the island to take some pictures followed by some leisurely hanging about on the beach all day. Little did I know that a long journey on foot awaited me. I grabbed breakfast in the cafe where the teachers were rotating the children in groups for breakfast so as to create lesser impact on the other hostellers. I slipped into line, tuned out the grade school chatter, and grabbed a hearty English breakfast of sausage, bacon, eggs, beans, croissant, tea, juice, and yogurt. I barely found a seat with some of the older hostellers to chat about wandering plans as many of the seats were taken up by the school kids.


Lesigney Round

I hit the trail by 8 am. As per the hand-drawn map, I wandered up into the farmers field to the west of the Castle in search of the Lesigney Round, an old Iron Age fort consisting of a “round” of trees and dense foliage wrapped around an inner earthworks wall with a central grove. There were a couple of comical chairs along the way, I suppose the local farmer’s humor with chairs where he possibly sits on occasion to greet travellers to the round. I’m Not quite sure. I worked my way around the western side of the round for the most accessible entrance into the fortress and was blessed by walking into a beautiful grove that was beaconing a meditation and some tree hugging. The Dryads and sacred spirits of the place radiated immensely a tingling sensation that kindled my heart. Nevermore had I felt an essence of “protective” energy so strong … never before did I feel so ‘safe’. This makes common sense to me since this was a defensive fortress used since the Iron Age or before. There were some very unique trees in the middle of the grove. Light patterns were divine and mixed with some tree chatter in guise of creaks and crackling of the wood in the wind. I heard some rustling in the bush I could only expect were dwarves or wee folk spying on me. I didn’t see them if that was the case – just felt their essence. I felt very deeply that I was being watched and monitored. This didn’t stop the sudden urge to meditate. After a pretty intense meditation, a pair of leaves drifted down into my lap with the omnipotence that it was to be taken to be joined to the Madron wishing tree … so I abided. The Lesigney Round is also referred to as The original Castle Horneck as well as the Timber Castle. It is the earthwork remains of an old iron age hillfort with earthen ditch and walls creating a densely wooded large round or circle.

Onward with my quest, I followed my hostel friend’s directions and map to get to the public footpaths as the Lesigney Round is on private farmland. It is only a permissable un-official path for wanderers like me to come take a peek at this unmarked and technically unprotected historical monument. After footing it through the farmer’s field I came to a road, and questioned whether to go right or left as my sense of directions were all messed up. To make matters worse, the paths were overgrown, and many of the small and already infrequent footpath signs were missing or covered. I could of sworn I heard some pixie chatter to the left beckoning me that direction. Sure enough a Cornish pixie tinkering with my American lack of directional sense being uprooted from Home. As I took a 2 mile meandering loop south-west instead of north-west, I found my way back up to Tremethick Cross. I knew something was wrong as I should have had hit Madron already. Apparently I was travelling in the opposite direction. Tremethick Cross is a crossroads with a stone cross overseeing travellers passing through it. Looking over the map I realized I had already gone a mile or so out of my way. I found what I believed to be the right directions, so headed the opposite direction along the roadway as I couldn’t find the public footpath. Before long I found signs to Madron and the footpaths to cut through the fields up to Madron Church and the unmarked cross stone in the field along the way. I did meet an elderly lady walking her dog and inquired as to where the Well was and she physically walked with me through town chatting away and pointed the right way to the Wishing Well. Madron is a small Parish Church village that is dedicated to the Mother Goddess Mabon. I pitstopped into the local graveyard to embrace the amazing artwork on the graves. Then on through more fields along the public footpath until I found a road sign pointing the way 1/2 mile to the Well. Down a muddy corridor of a footpath, I found an old trough that definitely was not a well but rather intriguing none-the-less. There was Beautiful foxglove flowers all along the journey – a plant I’m forever thankful for as it had saved my daughter’s life when she was born. There was also an incredible amount of Gorse along the roadway.

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Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera

Baurley, Thomas 11/26/2009 “Coconut Palm: Cocos nucifera”. Official web page: http://www.treeleavesoracle.org/treelore/?p=1347. © 2009 – Technogypsie Productions: Colorado Springs, Colorado. If you enjoy this article, please treat the author to a drink or donate to keep this article preserved online.


Coconut Trees, Big Island, Hawaii

Coconut Palm
Taxonomy: Plantae: Gymnospermae: Cycadopsida: Commelinids: Arecales: Arecaceae: Arecoideae: Cocoeae: Cocos nucifera. Common names: Nut, Coco, Coconut

Description: Most of the world is familiar with coconuts, the fruit and seed of which comes from the Coconut Palm. Its one of the ever-more popular icons of tropical beaches and regions, uninhabited islands, Florida, Hawaii, and the Bahamas. The Coconut Palm is part of the Palm Family (Arecaceae) and holds its only species. Its a large palm that can grow upwards of 30 meters tall with pinnate leaves 4-6 meters long and pinnae from 60-90 cm long. When the old leaves break away from the trunk it leaves it clean and smooth. A largely tropical decoration plant, it is also used throughout the world for cooking, health, refreshment, beverages, and manufacture. Every part of the Coconut Palm has a use. The fruit of the plant is light, buoyant, and highly water resistant making it very easy to propagate and spread across the world via the oceans and seas. The flowers of the plant are polygamomonoecious possessing both male and female flowers in the same inflorescence that occur continuously. The fruit of the tree is a coconut, within the inner surface of the shell, a ‘nut’ that is an edible endosperm containing coconut juice/milk that is sweet and/or salty. Botanically its a simply dry nut containing a husk (mesocarp) composed of fibers (coir) hosting an inner stone (endocarp) that is the hardest part of the nut which contains 3 germination pores visible on the outside surface once the husk is removed. Through these holes the radicle emerges when the embroyo germinates. The coconut meat is within the shell and consists of a white fleshy edible albuminous endosperm that is highly noted for its medium-chain saturated fat, containing less sugar and more protein than many popular fruits like bananas, apples, oranges, and is high in iron, phospherus, and zinc. In the hollow interior space of the nut is air and a liquid referred to as “coconut water”. When the coconut fruit is still green, the husk is very hard, and only fall if attacked by molds. When the fruit falls naturally, the husks become brown, coir is dry and soft, and less hazardous when it falls. Coconuts can be very damaging when they fall to people, automobiles, and houses. They have been known to cause fatalities.


Beware of falling coconuts, Kalapana Village, Big Island, Hawaii

History::
The exact origin of the “Coconut” is a controversy, ranging from scholars believing it to be native to South Asia while others claim it is from northwestern South American; Fossil evidence shows coconut plants in New Zealand from 15 million years ago; even older fossils in Kerala, Rajasthan, Thennai, and India. First referred to in the 2nd-1st c. B.C.E. in Sri Lanka. Coconuts were believed to be introduced to Hawaii by the Polynesians, to Europe by Portuguese sailors, etc. The name “coconut” came to be from the description of the brown and hairy surface of the nut that reminded the Portuguese explorers of a ghost or witch called “Coco”. Then Marco Polo in 1280 called it nux indica derived from the Arab’s name jauz-al-Hindi. The British retained the coco name and added “nut” to it.

Folklore and Magical beliefs::
Because of how the fruit appears, Portuguese travelers thought the fruit looked like “Coco” the scary witch from within their folklore, that used to be represented as a carved vegetable lantern. Coconut shell is sometimes used to ‘ward away the evil eye’ in South India. In the Philippines, dried half shells are used for a folk dance called the “maglalatik” for an musical instrument that demonstrates or tells the tale about conflicts about coconuts within the Spanish era. The Coconut is used often in rituals – with the Kaveri River worship in India it was seen as an essential element of several Hindu rituals where coconuts were decorated with bright metal foils. Often offered to Hindu God/desses, rivers, and seas in hopes of honor, tribute, or answers to prayers for successful/bountiful catches. In Hindu wedding rituals the coconut is placed over the opening of a pot (representing the womb) or breaking the coconut to ensure blessings as a successful completion of an activity or used in prayers. With Tantra sometimes coconuts are used to represent the human skull.


Coconut, Big Island, Hawaii

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United States Botanical Gardens (D.C.)


United States Botanical Gardens, Washington, D.C. 2/17/09

United States Botanical Gardens: (A HREF=”http://www.usbg.gov/”>http://www.usbg.gov/)
is one of the Nation’s most important botanical gardens. It is located on the grounds of the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C., near Garfield Circle, at the east end of the National Mall. The facility is supervised by the Congress through the Architect of the Capitol who is the groundskeeper of the Capitol. Open daily even on federal holidays (except June 3) until 5 pm. It is the oldest and most continually-operating botanical gardens in the U.S. In 1838 Charles Wilkes set out on the United States Exploring Expedition commissioned by Congress to circumnavigate the globe and explore the Pacific Ocean. During this trip (the “Wilkes Expedition”), Wilkes collected live and dried specimens of plants and was one of the first to use wardian cases to maintain live plants on long voyages. Wilkes returned in 1842 with a massive collection of plants previously unknown in the United States. These dried specimens comprised the core of what is now the National Herbarium, a herbarium curated by the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. The live specimens and seeds came to be housed in the Old Patent Office greenhouse, and were cared for there until 1850. At that time, a botanic garden was built to house the collection in front of the Capitol, where the Capitol reflecting pool is now located. The Building was moved to its present location in 1933 just to the southwest of the Capitol, bordered by Maryland Avenue on the north, First Street on the east, Independence Avenue on the south, and Third Street on the west. The Gardens are separated into the following sections;

  • The Garden Court
  • Rare and Endangered Plants (rare species, endangered species)
  • Plant Exploration
  • Orchid House (orchids)
  • Medicinal Plants (medicinal plants)
  • Desert (desert species)
  • Oasis (oasis)
  • Garden Primeval (primeval)
  • Plant Adaptation
  • Jungle (jungle species; this is the largest of the rooms, and includes a second-story catwalk so that the jungle canopy may be observed from both below and above)
  • Children’s Garden (courtyard; features many thriving temperate annuals used to encourage interest in plants)
  • Southern Exposure (courtyard),on the south side of the building, is surrounded by glass walls, receiving more warmth. It features many plants from the Southeast and Southwest, which would not be able to live in the colder District of Columbia climate if not for the microclimate)

The Oasis and administrative offices are the only places in the complex with air conditioning. Each room is closely monitored by a computer-operated sensors to maintain the environment best suited to the plants in that room. Humidity, sunlight and temperature are regulated by means of a misting system, retractable shades and levered windows. All plants are watered daily by hand. The gardens are fragrant, beautiful, and not to be missed when visiting Washington, D.C. Rating: 5+ stars out of 5.
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