A famous children’s song, “Bahay Kubo”, lists many plants growing around the traditional home.  This beloved song has been illustrated in many children’s books and it speaks to the nostalgia many Filipinos feel for their rural roots.  The families we visited yesterday are still living this life, in part at least, and their homes are surrounded by plants prized for their food and medicinal value and also their beauty.

The division between food, medicine and beauty is artificial, as so many plants provide all three.   For instance, the leaves of squash are a poultice for stomachache and hemorrhoids, while the leaf juice treats burns.

Malunggay (Moringa oleifera), a green vegetable, is extremely high in nitrogen, calcium and other nutrients, and so is used around the world in tropical climates to treat the sick, as it bolsters their immune systems. In Congo and Haiti it has helped people living with HIV/AIDs to live longer and healthier lives.

The “sarisa” tree has a delicious fruit which Lina climbed after as a child.  She often fell as the branches are not sturdy but it didn’t deter her from climbing again.  I learned that the unripe fruits and the leaves boiled for tea are used to treat diarrhea. She didn’t know this as her only interest was in the ripe fruits!

The tender tips of sweet potato (kamote) and squash vines make a delicious vegetable when steamed.  Imagine all the tender vines that go to waste in our pumpkin fields!

Of particular importance to this region is the sugar cane called “La Carlota”, a variety developed here in 1925 and the foundation of the cane industry central to the region’s economy.  It is the purple cane shown growing in the garden and also lying on the table next to a green stalked variety.

I will not list the medicinal values of the plants in this post.  If you are curious, you can consult the database at www.tkdlph.com   .

Banana tree

Banana tree

Banana "hands"

Banana “hands”

The "saba" banana, best cooked

The “saba” banana, best cooked

"La Carlota" sugar cane

“La Carlota” sugar cane

La Carlota cane is purple

La Carlota cane is purple

Cassava

Cassava

A coconut sprouts

A coconut sprouts

Coconut palm

Coconut palm

Coffee in flower

Coffee in flower

Coffee beans

Coffee beans

"Gabi" or taro

“Gabi” or taro

Guava

Guava

"Guyabano" or soursop

“Guyabano” or soursop

"Kaimito" or star apple: a star pattern appears when you cut it open, as with apples

“Kaimito” or star apple: a star pattern appears when you cut it open, as with apples

"Kalabasa" or squash / pumpkin

“Kalabasa” or squash / pumpkin

"Kamote" or sweet potato: the tender tips are a delicious vegetable

“Kamote” or sweet potato: the tender tips are a delicious vegetable

"Malunggay", Moringa oleifera, a miracle plant

“Malunggay”, Moringa oleifera, a miracle plant

Papaya

Papaya

Pineapple

Pineapple

"Sarisa" or strawberry tree, Muntingia calabura

“Sarisa” or strawberry tree, Muntingia calabura

A young "suha" or pomelo tree

A young “suha” or pomelo tree

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