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 - LOQUAT

The loquat is more commonly known as the Japanese or Chinese plum. The large evergreen shrub or tree, which can grow up to 12 to 15 feet tall, is cultivated as an ornamental plant in addition to being grown commercially for its fruit. Though it was originally from China, the loquat plant has been introduced to regions all over the world, including Afghanistan, Australia, Georgia, Chile, Kenya and warmer parts of the United States, such as Hawaii, California, Florida and Texas. The loquat is easy to grow in subtropical to mild temperate climates. It will flower only where winter temperatures do not fall below 30° F. Japan is the leading producer of loquats, followed by Israel, then Brazil.


The name loquat derives from a Chinese phrase meaning “black orange,” which originally referred to unripe, dark green kumquats. The name was mistakenly applied to the loquat by the ancient Chinese poet Su Shi. Loquats are closely related to pears and apples, not kumquats.


Because of its golden color, the loquat represents gold and wealth. Loquat fruit has a high sugar and pectin content. Loquats taste sweet, yet slightly tart, with notes of citrus. The taste differs between different varieties. Loquats are often used to make jelly, jam, chutney and even a light wine. A recipe for salsa incorporates loquats with peppers, tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Loquats are low in calories but have many beneficial nutrients. These fruits are particularly high in carotenoid antioxidants, which prevent cellular damage and may protect against disease. In addition, loquats boast folate and vitamin B6, which are important for energy production and blood cell formation. They provide magnesium and potassium, which are essential for nerve and muscle function, as well as manganese, which supports bone health and metabolism. Loquats contain small amounts of vitamins A and C, thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), copper, iron, calcium and phosphorus. Because of this great concentration of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, loquats may bolster heart health. The carotenoids and phenolic compounds in loquats protect against heart disease by reducing inflammation and preventing cellular damage. Carotenoids have powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects that help prevent plaque buildup in the arteries, which is the leading cause of heart disease and heart- disease-related death.


Loquats may improve metabolic health by reducing levels of triglycerides, blood sugar and insulin, which would benefit those who have diabetes. Some research suggests extracts of the skin, leaves and seeds of the loquat have anticancer effects. One test-tube study showed extract from loquat fruit skins significantly

inhibited the growth and spread of human bladder cancer cells. Various parts of the loquat tree, including its leaves and seeds, have long been used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat respiratory and digestive issues.


A loquat tree grown from seed is great for ornamental use, but will seldom bear good fruit. Its coarse dark green foliage and white flowers will add textural interest to your landscape. The tree grows rapidly, putting on about 3 feet of growth each year under ideal conditions.


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TANYA TYLER





Tanya Tyler is the Editor of Health & Wellness Magazine