NATURES BEAUTY - LILY

Easter is upon us, and no flower is more associated with the celebration of Jesus Christ’s resurrection than the lily. Traditional lore says white lilies emerged where drops of Christ’s sweat fell to the earth in his final hours on the cross. The ancient Greeks believed lilies came from the breast milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. In Roman mythology, Venus, the goddess of beauty, was jealous of the flower’s white loveliness. A European legend says if you approach an expectant mother holding a lily….

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NATURES BEAUTY - SQUASH

Is squash a vegetable or a fruit? You would probably call a zucchini squash a vegetable, but you would most likely call a pumpkin a fruit. The definitive answer, from a botanical view, is squash are fruits because they contain the seeds of the plant.  Squash are some of the oldest cultivated crops on earth, believed to have originated in Mexico and Central America more than 10,000 years ago. The word squash comes from the Narragansett Native American word askutasquash, which means…..

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NATURES BEAUTY - CINNAMON

One of the best-loved spices of cooks and food lovers alike is cinnamon. Made from the inner bark of the Cinnamomum tree, cinnamon has been around since the days of ancient Egypt, where it was used to embalm mummies. The tree is native to the Caribbean, South America and Southeast Asia. Indonesia and China produce three-quarters of the world’s supply of cinnamon today.

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NATURES BEAUTY - KENTUCKY COFFEETREE

They used pulp from its wood to treat insanity, fever and headache. The pulp was also used as a laxative.


The Kentucky coffeetree is a tall, slow-growing one. It can reach 70 feet high and have a 40- to 50-foot spread at maturity. Its leaves are the largest of any tree found in the eastern part of North America; they can be as long as 3 feet. The Kentucky champion coffeetree in West Liberty in Morgan County is 90 feet tall. The tallest coffee tree in the nation is a 97-foot specimen in Maryland. Coffeetrees can live to be up to 150 years old. They are considered a rare tree species – so uncommon their population needs to be monitored – with a limited natural range but a wide distribution. They prefer deep, moist, alkaline soils to grow in. They tolerate heat, drought and other stressors, including urban conditions, very well. They should be planted in wide open spaces to give them room to grow to full size.


The wood of the Kentucky coffeetree is used for general construction – such as bridge timbers, crossties, fence posts and rails – as well as in cabinet work and fine furniture.


The Kentucky coffeetree is also known as the American coffee bean or coffee berry tree, American mahogany tree and coffeenut tree. We’re not sure why it has the Kentucky epithet, but hey, let’s take a shot of bourbon and claim it.



Sources


TANYA TYLER

Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine

more articles by Tanya Tyler

Although it is no longer the state tree of Kentucky (that distinction now goes to the tulip poplar tree), the Kentucky coffeetree still percolates a lot of interest in the Bluegrass State and beyond.


The coffeetree was the state tree from 1976 to 1994. It actually belongs to the pea or legume family, and it isn’t confined just to Kentucky. It can be found all over the Midwest, including Michigan, Minnesota and Ohio. Several coffeetrees were grown at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. Kentucky icon George Rogers Clark sent some Kentucky coffeetree seeds to Thomas Jefferson, and they grew at Jefferson’s home, Monticello, and at the University of Virginia, the school he founded.


Can you really make coffee from the seeds of a Kentucky coffeetree? Yes, you can – in a way. Native Americans drank the roasted ground seeds in a hot beverage similar to coffee and early settlers did the same. These seeds served passingly well as a substitute for real coffee beans, which of course the pioneers didn’t have, but the unroasted pods and seeds are toxic to both humans and livestock. (The toxin is neutralized when the pods are roasted.) The thick pods containing the beans are found only on the female trees. This is why more male coffeetrees are planted in parks – they don’t drop any pods, which can be rather messy.


Native Americans got a lot of mileage out of the coffeetree. They used the seeds as dice and also as jewelry. They drank a tea made from the leaves. And they found ways to use it medicinally.