MLK Quote

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Nature's Inspiration Movie

http://www.flickspire.com/m/HealthierL433/NaturesInspiration -- Nature's Inspiration Movie: The photographs in this short video are from award-winning photographer, Ken Jenkins, and they are breathtaking. However, this video is much more than beautiful photographs! Peggy Anderson has compiled beautiful quotations from the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, and many others that truly capture the beauty of nature and solitude. Absolute must watch for nature lovers.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Miracle Jerusalem Artichoke

People look at the plants and then ask me, "are these sunflowers?" Yes and No. When I tell the people the name of the plant, I get a very understanding nod with the exclamation, "Ah! Artichokes," or "Ah! Artichokes from Jerusalem." NOOOOOOOOO, these are not artichokes and they have nothing to do with Jerusalem.

It's a mystery why they are called Jerusalem Artichokes. One of the theory is that when Pilgrims landed on the US, they depended on this plant, which they learned from the Native Americans, to survive the harsh winter of North-East. Thus, they called this food as the divine food from Jerusalem. Another theory is that Jerusalem is the twisting of the Italian word for sunflower -- Girasol. Whatever the theories might be behind such a name, it is neither an Artichoke nor it came originally from Jerusalem.

Flowers have slowly started emerging

It is one of the true native plants of the USA and Canada and can be found from as far as north in Maine to all the way down to Texas. It can be grown under various weather conditions. The beauty and miraculous nature of this plant is mind-blowing. It will start blooming, from late September onward through October, early November, when all other plants are going dormant, dead and are hardly blooming. The plants can easily grow ten feet or more taller as slender plants. It's amazing that they hardly get toppled down by wind or storm. They stand proud, tall and erect. Then they burst into flames -- the whole plants get covered with cheerful yellow flowers. A row of these plants really create spectacular sight as these bright yellow flowers nod and move in the little breeze. Various kind of smaller bees (not the honey-bees or bumble-bees) can be found on these flowers.

Showy, beautiful flowers on the top and heart-healthy, super-food under -- what more can you demand from a plant? The thick potato-like tubers of this plant are what are known as Jerusalem Artichoke. It can be eaten raw, or cooked in any way one likes -- fried, roasted, boiled, made into flour or dehydrated. Potato contains starch and which is not good for diabetic people. That's why often nutritionists recommend JA to replace potato in one's diet. JA contains 80% Inulin, a kind of fructan compound that is very low on glycemic index and is a soluble fiber. Inulin is nowadays considered as a super-food and is a pre-biotic. I do not care about all these super-food gimmicks. I just love eating raw JA as they taste like something between walnut and chestnut.

Are we not pretty enough to be in your garden? Just think -- we will be saving you the cost of fertilizers and water and also provide you with food and flowers.

The tubers should be harvested during the colder months only, that is, in December, January, February or later. When the ground is frozen solid, covered with thick layer and snow and there are hardly any fresh food (unless one has a green-house), one can go out into the field and dig out these foods (Yes, I know what you are thinking -- lots of strength will be required to dig up a frozen solid ground, but just think how wonderfully nature works). Though it is a native sunflower plant, but people here do not grow it as it is considered a weed. And, it does indeed behave like a weed. Put one tuber of JA in the ground and in one single year, it will occupy a significant portion of the garden -- it spreads very fast. So, one has to be very careful while putting it down in a garden. It can also be grown successfully in big pots and will produce a significant amount of tubers (unlike potatoes which will not produce much in a pot unless someone uses a really large pot and/or puts just one potato per pot). One can put the tuber in the ground and then forget about it. It does not require any water, fertilizer or any care. During winter months, harvest whatever one requires and leave the rest in the ground. However, a word of caution -- leaving JA in ground changes it chemical composition -- much of inulin gets converted into fructose. How much of the super-food inulin left in the JA depends upon local weather, how long it was in the ground, harvest time, etc. So, if one is diabetic, one should consult a nutritionist before starting to consume JA.

JA also goes by various other names like sunchokes, sun-root, earth apple, etc. It's biological name is Helianthus Tuberosus, and thus it tells you that it is a sunflower, a perennial sunflower that will come back year after years. the plant with its big leaves, stems and flowers are easy fodder for live-stocks. So, do you have them in your garden, will you be growing them?

Some more random photos from the garden:
Unknown flowers that grow in our garden. Bees of all sorts and butterflies love them. Is the first one some kind of native Aster? Looks like Aster-flowers but much smaller. I have asked a botanist but have not heard the verdict yet.

20 comments:

  1. Ahhh Jerusalem Artichokes are beautiful, but I am ashamed to confess that they are the only vegetable I have tried that I don't like to eat. The kids chide me about my inability to eat them, which is a most humiliating reversal of roles. Perhaps I'm not cooking the JAs very well and I should try one raw.

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  2. I have never tried eating Jerusalem Artichoke. It is a beautiful plant, though, like just about every sunflower. The plant to the right looks like white snakeroot, a relative of Joe Pye Weed.

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  3. If i will be the one seeing them, i will think they are wild sunflowers, we have some like that here in the tropics. The problem with common names is that they vary depending on the group of people or place or dialect or even depends on whims of the gardeners. So what is its Scientific name?

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  4. They are lovely looking plants but have yet to try them. We ought to soon, to satisfy ones curiosity...

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  5. Very pretty - I'm just wondering now - I've been given some rooted stems of perennial sunflowers, they might be the same plant. Further investigation on my part needed, I think :)
    I've never tasted JA but since you describe the taste as walnut/chestnut - I don't think I'd like!

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  6. I've heard that eating Jerusalem artichokes can lead to some gastrointestinal discomfort. Has that been an issue in your experience?

    Also, not sure if you were asking for IDs on the unknown flowers at the bottom of your post, but I'm pretty sure the second (yellow) one is some sort of Gaillardia.

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  7. Jerusalem artichoke "Israeli" good for you.

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  8. I really must get some JA's. Pretty plants and useful too....perfect!

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  9. We like their flowers very much... so pretty... and the tubers are quite tasty... by the way, thanks for commenting on my moroheya post... are you interested in having some seeds? If so, please let me know...

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  10. This was all new information to me.... I didn't know.... It is pretty and you make a wonderful case for growing it with due caution.... I think you asked me what plant my monarch was on. It was black snakeroot when I bought it...now I have to see if they changed the name... I will let you know... Michelle

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  11. Actaea racemosa (Black cohosh, Black snakeroot, Bugbane)

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  12. I love my native helianthus but I do not have this one...they are so welcome in the fall as the birds, bees and butterflies love them

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  13. I don't grow these but a friend does. Another friend stopped growing them because the deer were devouring them. I'm curious to try them. :o) Your tiny flowers are a native aster. I have them in my garden, too.

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  14. I don't have this helianthus either. I have only attempted to grow regular artichokes in a huge pot (because I heard they could be invasive) and their flower is a site to behold. It is like a day-glo periwinkle/blue. Astonishing color. I wonder if it's in a different family altogether.

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  15. I also have them but in our colder climate, they bloom very late. They have not yet bloomed. I grow them outside the garden proper. The native aster might be Symphyotrichum puniceum.

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  16. I never thought about growing Jerusalem artichoke, but now I am considering it! They're so pretty! I wonder if they're a draw for deer erouas well as livestock. I suppose it shouldn't matter as they multiply so generously. Thanks for the very interesting, eye-opening post!

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  17. So glad you stopped by my blog so that I found yours! So much information you share, thank you! I wish I had a garden, perhaps one day, that would be a dream come true!

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  18. Bellissimo l'Eupatorium autunnale!!! :D

    Un saluto!

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  19. Nice blog comment helianthus tuberosus I like helianthus tuberosus this is hallty is the valuable herb which for long

    time has won popularity in national medicine.chicory extract was also often prescribed by herbalists of recent

    centuries to cure a whole host of ailments; the herbalist of the middle ages often recommended herbal remedies made

    from the helianthus tuberosus as tonics, as laxatives, and as diuretics.
    http://www.adeptimpex.com/jerusalem_artichoke_india.php

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  20. Wow, the the Jerusalem Artichoke is truly an amazing plant! Thanks for this very educational post. Most of the info was new to me and I am always happy to learn something new about plants :-)!
    Christina

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