Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Nelumbo nucifera - Lotus 荷花

Lotus is a flowering plant in the family Nelumbonaceae.  It is also known as Rose of India, Indian lotus, sacred water lily, scared lotus, etc.

Lotus was formerly known as Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.), Nymphaea nelumbo, etc. which are all now obsolete.   The only name currently recognized is  Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) .

In China, it is known as  莲花 or 荷花, ancient scripts recorded it as 芙蓉, 菡萏, 芙蕖.  It is often mistaken for waterlily  睡蓮, which is of Nymphaea genus.  Nelumbo and Nymphaea are currently classified under entirely different families.

The generic name Nelumbo is derived from the Sinhalese word Nelum.   The specific name nucifera is Latin for nut-bearing.

There are only 2 known living species in the genus : the sacred lotus Nelumbo nucifera of Asia ; and the American lotus Nelumbo lutea of North America.   Hybrids have been produced between N. nucifera and N. lutea.   A third extinct species, Nelumbo aureavallis is known from Eocene fossils from North Dakota, USA.

The roots of Nelumbo nucifera are planted in the soil of water bottom, while the leaves are often held above water surface.  
Leaves are peltate, circular, and superhydrophobicity.   
Flowers are pink in colour, hermaphrodite, entomophily, thermoregulated. 
Seed pods are conical, green upon maturity, turn brown when ripened.   
Seeds contained in holes in the pod, loose when ripe.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Lablab purpureus - Kacang komak

Kacang komak is the name the Indonesian workers called the rare purplish bean they sowed at the line site.

It is a vigour climber with trifoliate leaves.  Flowers in raceme, purplish-green in colour, resemble of yardlong beans ( Vigna unguiculata sesquipedalis ).
Yet the fruit pods are somehow similar to semi-inflated green beans.

A check on Google shows that kacang komak is a variety of Lablab purpureus (L.) Sweets, a legume native to Africa, now widely cultivated throughout tropical region.

It is known by many names : Egyptian been, Hyacinth bean, Indian bean ; faselbohne, helmbohne, schlangenbohne, batao, wal,vaal, sem, lubia, fiwi, njahi in Africa ; batao in the Philippines ; avarai in India, etc.  Its synonyms include : Dolichos benghalensis Jacq. Dolichos lablab L. , Dolichos purpureus L. , Lablab niger Medikus , Lablab vulgaris (L.) Savi , Lablab lablab (L) Lyons,  Vigna aristata Piper.

Flowers, immature pods, seeds, leaves and root are used as vegetables.  Flowers are consumed raw or cooked in soups. Immature pods can be eaten raw or cooked.  Mature seeds must be thoroughly cooked.  The seeds can also made into tofu, tempe, or sprouted.  Leaves must be cooked before consuming.

It is also used as fodder for grazing, in soil conservation, as green manure and cover crop, and even as an ornament.