Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Indian copperleaf (Kucing Galak Plants)

Scientific name : Acalypha indica
Common name : Indian copperleaf, India acalypha
Local name : Kucing Galak, Cika Mas
Family : Euphorbiaceae

It occurs throughout tropical Africa and South Africa, in
India and Sri Lanka, as well as in Yemen and Pakistan. In
West and East Africa the plant is used as a medicinal
plant. In West Africa the leaves are cooked and eaten as a
vegetable. It is also browsed by cattle.This plant is held in
high esteem in traditional Tamil Siddha medicine as it is
believed to rejuvenate the body. Throughout the area
where the plant grows, it is widely known for it's effect on
domestic cats, which react very strongly to the root of the

Plant Description
An annual, erect herb, up to 1 m high. Leaves 2.5-7.5 cm

long, ovate or rhomboid-ovate, crenate-serrate. Flowers in
numerous lax, erect, elongated axillary spikes, the male
minute, clustered near the summit of the spike, the
females scattered, surrounded by a large.

Plant habit
A herb found in fields and waste places throughout the
hotter part. In Peninsular Malaysia, it occurs in the more
settled part.
Plants parts used :
Root, leaves

Uses in traditional medicine
It is use as a purgative for which purpose the plant is boiled and the extract drunk. It is a very
good remedy in the treatment of piles. Root is used to remove worms in children, and given in
the morning empty stomach work as mild laxative and also remove worms. Leaves with turmeric
for relief from acne and pimples.


Tatiana & Mike

Two persons and one plant participated in the creation of the world famous fragrance, "Chanel # 5."
The inventors of this renowned perfume were Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel, and Ernest Bo (Beaux) who was born in 1881 in Moscow. Bo was the son of the owner of the perfumery company Rallet, which delivered perfumery to the imperial court. He later became Rallet's director.
When Bo emigrated after the Bolshevik Revolution in 1917, the factory continued to exist, and in Soviet times was called "The Red Moscow." If it hadn't been for the Revolution, "Red Moscow" and "Chanel" most likely would have remained unknown.

Chanel asked Bo to make "an ideal smell for a woman." In 1921, he presented two series of samples: from the 1st to the 5th, and from the 20th to the 24th. Chanel chose the 5th, which consisted of the aromas of a rose, a jasmine and Ylang-Ylang flowers.
When questioned about giving it a name, she answered that the collection would be on sale on the 5th day of the 5th month, and consequently it was called "Chanel # 5."
In the 1950's, a quip from Marilyn Monroe created instant worldwide popularity for Chanel # 5. When asked by journalists what she wore in bed, Marilyn smiled and answered "Chanel # 5."

Tatiana & MikeYlang-Ylang grows from seeds and begins to bloom in three to four years. The flower changes color from pale green to lemon yellow. Old flowers have a dark yellow color with brown spots and are about 2" long with narrow petals gracefully hanging down, reminding one of an elegant accessory for a luxurious designer evening dress.

In addition to its wonderful fragrance, the plant blooms practically year round. Its branches are entirely covered with clusters of flowers and dark green oval fruits. Ripe fruits have a black color. Unlike some Annonaceae, Ylang-Ylang fruits are not used in foods; however they are quite edible and have the tart but pleasant aroma of a conifer or juniper.

Tatiana & Mike

Tatiana & Mike

Even when not in bloom, the tree is very beautiful with branches that look like those of Christmas trees. Its leaves are large, dark green and are located on the branch in pairs, which creates the illusion of a "Christmas Tree".
Tatiana & Mike

There is also a dwarfish version of the Ylang-Ylang tree, Fruticosa, which is a small tree or a bush that grows up to 6 ft. tall and starts blooming when the plant is only 1 to 1? feet tall. The spicy aroma of the Fruticosa flower is not as strong as that of the flowers of full-sized trees.
However, this dwarf is very popular among gardeners because it is ideally suited for indoor or patio container culture.
Fruticosa flowers have a more graceful form with the ends of the petals slightly twisted inside, resembling the scalloped edges of a mollusk shell.
Tatiana & MikeTatiana & Mike

Essence of Passion

In the Philippines, Ylang Ylang flowers were considered good for driving away malicious spirits. In Indonesia, it was prized as an aphrodisiac and the flowers were scattered on the beds of the newly married. Ylang Ylang oil was recommended for women in harems to heighten sexual appeal. In China, the clothes of people who could afford it were sprayed with Ylang Ylang oil before storing them in chests. (The smell of a winter coat, pulled out from a chest was certainly more pleasant than the smell of the naphthalene that is used now).

Besides perfumery, Ylang Ylang flowers also had medicinal applications. In the Philippines, the flowers were crushed and applied to the sites of insect stings and snake bites. The oil was also used for skin and hair because it was thought to improve hair growth. In England, in second half of the19th century, Ylang Ylang was one of the components of oil used for "growing hair." Whether it really helped hair growth, we don't know, but, in any case, a bald head must have smelled very pleasant.

It is now fashionable in aromatherapy to use Ylang Ylang oil, which is usually the third gradation, to alleviate stress, anxiety, and high blood pressure. Since it is considered a calming aroma, you can probably keep your neighbor's aggressive dog at bay by planting Ylang Ylang in your yard.

In addition to Chanel #5, Ylang Ylang is used in other perfumes such as "Aqua De Gio" by Giorgio Armani, "Poison" by Christian Dior, and "Elise Fields" ("Champs Elysee") by Guerlain.
Ylang Ylang Oil Aromatherapy

As a bath oil: Add 1-2 drops to a bath for a soothing effect. Other variations: Add 3 drops of lavender, 2 drops of Ylang Ylang, and 2 drops of juice from a grapefruit.

For Massage: Add 1-2 drops of Ylang Ylang to odorless massage oil. A more refined recipe recommends also adding 5 drops of sandal oil, 4 drops of pink oil and a droplet of patchouli. This mixture will guarantee a great massage.

An aromatic mix: add 8 drops of Ylang Ylang, 8 drops of lemon juice, and 8 drops of basil. If you add a few drops of this mixture to a therapeutic spray, it will work well to relieve weariness and stress, etc.

A Cologne: Obtain 5 ml (about 1/5 oz.) of spirits (It is desirable to do your own clearing rather than using denatured alcohol). Mix the spirits with distilled water to a 50% concentration. (Probably one could use vodka if no other spirits are available). Add 12 drops patchouli, 3 drops of geranium sap, 2 drops of Ylang Ylang, and a little bit of cinnamon (leaves or bark will do). This mixture will produce very fine cologne.

A potpourri: Mix in a glass vessel (that has a hermetically-sealed cover) a little oil of Ylang Ylang (or flowers), a little dry tangerine/orange/lemon peel, some leaves or bark from a cinnamon tree, a bay leaf, and a few leaves from a carnation plant. Keep the vessel closed for 3-4 weeks, periodically shaking it. The resulting tincture can then be used to scent linens, bed sheets, clothes, etc.

You can create your own unique recipes using Ylang Ylang. Experiment and awaken passions!

Cultivating Ylang-Ylang

Cananga odorata is an excellent landscape tree, but unfortunately, it hasn't been widely introduced yet.

Its features are numerous:

1) it is very fast growing - you'll have a mature tree in no lime
2) its nice columnar shape requires no special pruning
3) its roots are noninvasive
4) it has practically no pest problems
5} it is not messy because it doesn't drop much leaves, and it's evergreen
6) its branches are flexible in the wind
7) it blooms almost year-round and will suffuse all of your neighborhood with a fine fragrance.


Even though Cananga odorata is considered lo be a tropical plant, it prospers in most subtropical zones and once established, can survive short periods of cold (above 30°F anyway). As is characteristic of every warm-climate plant, it doesn't like chilly winds, but at the same time, the tree can withstand pretty strong wind movements.

As a landscape tree, the Ylang-Ylang offers, besides its flexibility and year-round aroma, two more special features - it is extremely fast growing and big. Once planted in the ground, the tree reaches its maturity within only one to two years, starts blooming, and creates a nice, almost Christmas-Tree-like canopy with drooping branches. Since in only a few years, it can become as high us 60 ft tall and 15 feet wide, you need to plan ahead! At the same time, the Ylang-Ylang's roots are not invasive, so it shouldn't damage driveways or pavements.

Light. Provide full sun to ensure better flowering.

Water & Humidity. Water your Ylang-Ylang daily for the first 2-3 weeks after you plant it. Then regular sprinkler irrigation will be sufficient. Cananga is a rainforest tropical tree that thrives best in a high-humidity environment.

Fertilization. Fertilize the plant with one-half dose of blooming-grade balanced fertilizer at least once a month during the growth period to encourage blooming; no fertilizing is required from the fall to the early spring.

Pests. The tree is practically pest-free. No special treatments are usually required to keep it healthy.

Sometimes, creative gardeners who lack room in their gardens train the plant into a shrub. Such a compact Ylang-Ylang will still provide wonderful perfumed flowers year round. The procedure must be started as early as on 8-10 inch seedling by pinching the very top point of growth. Don't wait until the seedling becomes too woody, or when you plant in the ground, the tree will sprout up a long stem. If done in time, trimming can create a nice shrubby look.

Initial Care after Shipping

If you live up north and order this plant from a mail-order nursery, then the following information may help you.

The low humidity the Ylang-Ylang experiences during shipment may cause some leaves to drop off or turn yellow/brown/black. Once your plant arrives, pot it immediately in well-drained potting mix. Water it well and place the pot in a bright shade location. Placing a water tray with pebbles under the pot will maintain a higher humidity level, as will frequent misting or a plastic bag over the foliage.

If you grow this plant indoors with AC, it might easily die since air conditioning greatly reduces humidity.

Normally, Cananga recovers from transportation stress in a week or two. If the stem was bent slightly in the box, do not worry - it will straighten up in a few days. If you provide the right conditions and proper care, your Ylang-Ylang tree will sprout new growth in just a few weeks.

If the leaves turn brown or black, the humidity level is too low. Another important factor - avoid too large a difference in day/night temperatures.

Growing Cananga odorata requires some patience - just be careful with your plant and the rewards will be great!

Friday, 27 January 2012

How to Care for Living Stone Plants

Living stones, (Lithops), are unusual succulents that look like small, rounded stones. Living stones, also called flowering stones or pebble plants, can live up to 50 years and rarely need to be re-potted. Stunning daisy-like blooms appear in November and December, followed by a period of dormancy when old leaves die and new leaves form. Living stones aren't difficult to grow, but the plants have different water requirements at different times of year. The most important thing to remember is to water sparingly, as living stones, like all succulents, are prone to rot.

How to Repot Lithops "Living Stones"

Lithops are mimicry plants commonly called “living stones,” “living rocks,”                        and “flowering stones.” These weird succulent plants have evolved to                        resemble pebbles and rocks in their native habitat of southern Africa                           to avoid being eaten by animals during times of drought. I recently                        gave one to my nephew, in part inspired by the book                                                  Toad Cottages and Shooting Stars, in the hopes that the plant would spark        something in him. Before he could receive the plant I was called and                informed that it had fallen out of the pot. Being the houseplant doctor                         in the family I was tasked with repotting the Lithops plant.

Lithops fulviceps Planting Living Stones
Lithops fulviceps "Living Stones." "Flowering Stones."

Yes, this is actually a plant and what you see here are the                                      leaves of the plant They grow for the most part submerged with                              only a small portion of the top  of the plant exposed above ground in                               order for Lithops to complete photosynthesis.

Planting Living Stones Flowering Rocks

Because they come from a dry region Lithops have fairly                                            long taproots for such small plants. Taproots not only help anchor                          plants into the soil, they also help reach moisture that’s lower in                                     the surrounding soil level. When choosing a pot for your Lithops plants                      go with a pot that’s deeper, between 3-5 inches should be                                             sufficiently deep. Remember that Lithops come from areas                                           where rainfall is limited and they store moisture in their leaves

How to plant Lithops, Flowering Stones

The soil mix that you use should be gritty and fast draining.                                      I’m using a bonsai mix that I feel works well with succulent                                    plants. I find commercial cacti and succulent potting mixes                                          to have too much organic material for a succulent like                                         Lithops. Fill your pot with soil almost to the top and then                                          poke a hole in the soil using a finger to accommodate                                                   the taproot and tapered body of your plant.

Living Stones, How to Plant

Place your Lithops into the hole created by your finger and                                        collapse the soil around the plant and you’re done. Potting of                                   Lithops, or repotting in this case, is really is really easy.                                             Avoid watering your Lithops at this point, unless the                                                 plant desperately needs it. The mimicry of Lithops is                                                         truly appreciated when you try to mirror what they                                                 would look like growing in the wild by placing stones and                                                pebbles of various sizes among your plant.

Lithops Fulviceps, flowering stones living rock

The small size, weird shapes and clumping nature of mature                                   plants make living stone plants ideal succulents for growing                                        on windowsills where they can be admired. Lithops need full                                    sun- this means they should receive at least six hours of direct                                   sunlight. During the summer months I'd keep one in a east                                    facing window where it they get direct sunlight for a few                                                hours a day. In the winter I'd move them to the south                                           facing window where there is more light and less chance                                              of them burning.Do not water your Lithops from winter                                                  to spring when new leaves are growing. During this time                                             the living rock plant is using moisture stored in the older                                           leaves that will be replaced. Watering is done in the summer                                      and fall when the plant is very dry Too much water results in                                     your living stone plant splitting as in the case of my                                          Argyroderma delaetii. A word of caution: if you become                                       addicted to growing living stones you may also develop                                                   an addiction to rock collecting.






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