Monday, August 6, 2018

Bananas – A Fruit for All Reasons



There truly seems to be ample evidence that bananas are more than just a good source of potassium. Nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B6 and niacin, as well as the minerals phosphorous, calcium, magnesium and manganese are all present in bananas.

In addition, no fruit is higher in energy value except the avocado. This is because the banana has three natural sugars -sucrose, fructose and glucose which give a substantial boost of energy.

Other benefits of bananas are as follows:
  •         Help fight depression. They contain tryptophan, which converts into serotonin, a chemical known to make you relax and improve your mood. For this reason, bananas can also help sufferers of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).
  •         High in iron. Bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in  the blood and so helps in cases of anemia.
  •         Reduces the risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Bananas are extremely high in potassium yet low in salt. The US Food and Drug Administration allows the banana industry to make official claims for the fruit's ability to reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke.  According to research in “The New England Journal of Medicine”, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40%.
  •         Research has shown that the fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert.
  •         Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body so if you suffer from heartburn, eat a banana for soothing relief.
  •         Some people even rub mosquito bites with the inside of a banana skin to reduce swelling and irritation.
  •         Bananas can also help people who try to give up smoking. It seems the B vitamins, along with potassium and magnesium found in bananas help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Hibiscus Mite

Bumpy, wart- like growths on hibiscus leaves

This unsightly growth is caused by the feeding of a tiny mite, invisible to the naked eye, called the hibiscus erineum mite.  It has been in the Hawaiian Islands since 1989 and is carried from place to place by wind, birds and insects.

The mite is difficult to eradicate, and even when it is gone, it will likely return.  Biological control is the best long-term solution.  Soon after the mite becomes established, a predatory mite will most likely move in and begin feeding of the erineum mite. 

Since the predatory mite will only reduce the pest population and not eliminate it, there will continue to be some damage. If not satisfied with biological control, using a chemical spray would be the next step:  1) prune to eliminate the worst damage, 2) spray with a registered miticide; wettable sulfur.  3) Apply 2-3 times, at weekly intervals, paying special attention to spraying the undersides of the leaves.  In addition to killing the mites, the spray will protect the new growth from further infestation so gradually the shrub will begin to recover. 

Unfortunately, a miticide application will also kill the predatory mites, so it is either biological control or chemical.  If you see tiny, fast moving mites on the leaves, these are the predatory mites. You may want to give them a chance before pesticide applications.

Research conducted at CTAHR’s Kahului Experimental Station (Maui) indicates that some hibiscus varieties are more susceptible to this mite than others.   The more susceptible varieties are:  Chinese Red, Herman Shierman, Orange Hibiscus, Nii Yellow and Kardinal.  Those varieties that show a lesser susceptibility to the mite are: Itsy Bitsy Peach, Monch, Zahm, Apple blossom, Apricot, Empire and Pink hibiscus.  


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Tropical Favorites


Some favorite tropical fruits, spices and flowers all belong to the same plant order known as the Zingiberales. They include banana, ginger, cardamom, turmeric and the beautiful heliconia flowers.

Banana, sometimes referred to as a tree or palm, is actually an herbaceous plant since the trunk or stems do not contain lignin. Lignin is the substance that makes wood, woody.  

Ginger originates from Southeast Asia and is unknown in the wild but has been cultivated since ancient times. Ginger was introduced into Europe from China and introduced into Mexico and the Caribbean by the Spaniards. Today it is widely used in local medicines in India and the Far East. China and India are the largest producers of ginger.   

Cardamom is native to India. The dried fruits are used in medicine and as a spice.  Cardamom seeds, which have a pleasant aroma, are used in curries and breads.   

Turmeric, or olena as it is called in the Hawaiian language, comes from the root of Curcuma domestica; it is an important ingredient in curry powders.  Turmeric has been gaining recognition as an anti-inflammatory herbal remedy. Preliminary findings suggest that a chemical found in turmeric called curcumin may have carcinogenic retarding properties but these findings have not been confirmed. With its bright yellow color, turmeric is also used as a fabric dye. This species is unknown in the wild; it is sterile and does not produce fruit. Turmeric is also known as Indian saffron. 


Lastly, in the plant order Zingiberales there are over 100 different species of heliconia flowers.  They produce some of the most beautiful and commercially important flowers for both potted plants and bouquets. Heliconias require high temperatures, humidity and light intensity.  In the wild they grow mainly in forest clearings. The Bird of Paradise, which is the national flower of South Africa, is also in this group.