Weedibles, Weedicinals and Bamboo!

Published April 15, 2021, 6:00 AM

by Flor G. Tarriela

Weeds are plants in the wrong place, growing where they are not wanted and where they should not be. There are many weeds that are useful. In Flor’s Garden, weeds that are edible, we call “Weedibles” and weeds that are medicinal “Weedicinals,” as coined by Sally Sabalburo, a hobby natural farmer from La Union.

  • Do you know the common plant that grows anywhere and rich in vitamin C that saved a lot of people during the Japanese time? It is also called the Japanese ginseng given the formation of its roots.
  • What plant is the” herb of longevity” and “memory enhancer”?  Dr. Jaime Galvez Tan calls it an anti-ageing plant.  He uses it as a “facial moisturizer”, bruise the leaves a little and add virgin coconut oil and leave it on your face for 15 minutes.  
  • What plant leaves serve as good “expectorant” against phlegm?  Apply pounded leaves to insect bites and skin itchiness.The rats don’t like its smell and move away, put crushed leaves in areas where rats pass.
  • What leaves when pounded can soothe a bump and help reduce fever when applied to the forehead?
  • What plant is edible, medicinal and promotes hair growth? And because of its scent, is used as an insecticide and called a “malathion plant”.
  • Which flower can give you nutrients, reduce your blood pressure and give your rice, tea and juice a natural blue color?

In line with Secretary William Dar’s Plant! Plant! Plant! and food security program, the Agricultural Training Institute (ATI) under the Department of Agriculture (DA)v has partnered with Flor’s Garden to come up with the book WEEDIBLES,WEEDICINALS plus Edible Flowers and Others. The book is basically a plant book in simple language.  There is information on the scientific and common names, food and health values, how to propagate, care for them and how to use as home remedies. There are two basic ways to use medicinal plants:

  • Internally – eat raw or cooked and make into tea; and
  • Externally – to pound the plant part, called poultice, usually the leaves and apply to sore or affected area.

We also have easy to follow recipes, from acknowledged cook Maur Lichauco, Kay Jimenez , Baby Malvar of Mount Purro .

These and many more will be found in the book WEEDIBLES and WEEDICINALS coming out soon!

Bamboo Grass:  Bright Future

Bamboo is a fast-growing grass, pliant and resilient.  Do you know that bamboo is an edible grass?  It is very versatile and has many uses: shelter, clothing, transportation (Bryan McClelland’s Bambike) and food!  Wash Sycip always encouraged me to plant bamboo as food and so I planted Machiku, the sweetest  edible bamboo.

According to Director Henry Adornado of Ecosystems Research and Development Bureau (ERDB), bamboo is known as poor man’s lumber and “green gold”.  There are 1,200 species of bamboo in the world and about 70 are found in the Philippines. After planting, he said, bamboo can be harvested after 5 years. At 5 poles per clump and 200 clumps per hectare, 1,000 poles can be harvested in a one-hectare plantation.  “Bamboo Queen” Kay Jimenez, owner of Carolina Bamboo Garden (CBG), said she was so happy to sell 10 truckloads of poles after 4 years only, to find out later that activated bamboo charcoal sells at P1,000.00 a kilo! That’s because there was value added in processing in bamboo charcoal. Yes, there is a big market for bamboo for reforestation and as raw materials for construction and other uses, but there are not enough planting materials.  Popular species are Tinik Kawayan, Giant Bamboo and Bolo.

CBG partnered with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and Philippine Council for Agriculture Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCCARRD) to start tissue culture (micro-propagation) to make bamboo planting materials available in a big scale, now still in progress.

Do you know that clothing material can also be made out of bamboo? That’s the project of Celia Elumba Director of the Philippine Textile Institute to make bamboo available for every day wear.

The good news is that the Dept of Agriculture (DA) has now classified bamboo as a high value crop under USEC Evelyn La Vina and DA services are available to those interested.

Thank you to the ever-active Dulce Punzalan, the host to the NCR Luzon Virtual Bamboo Summit sponsored by the Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council.  We were enlightened, educated and informed about the bright future of the local bamboo industry.  With the DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DA Secretary William Dar, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Pena and DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu working as a team, we are hopeful that a thriving bamboo industry will be a reality soon!

*****

Flor Gozon Tarriela is chairman of the Philippine National Bank.  She is a former Undersecretary of Finance and the first Filipina vice-president of Citibank N.A.  She is a trustee of FINEX and an Institute of Corporate Directors fellow.  She established Flor’s Garden, a Department of Tourism accredited agri-tourism site and an ATI National Extension service provider.

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