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button Hawaiian name: Ohelo
Vaccinium reticulatum
Family: Ericaceae
This species is found on lava flows and cinder beds or alpine or subalpine shrublands. It ia a low-lying shrub which bears bright red berries. Hawaians considered them sacred to the Godess Pele and before eating the berries they would make offerings by throwing some to the godess, in the volcano pit.

Ohelo belongs to the cranberry family and is related to blueberries.The red or yellow berries, are edible raw or cooked. Baked into pies, `ōhelo is still enjoyed as jelly. It is a common shrub at The Volcanoes National Park and Haleakalā.

button Orange Blossom/ Neroli
Citrus aurantium L.
Family: Rutaceae
Common Names: ~Orange Blossom~ ~Citrus vulgaris~ ~Citrus bigaradia~ ~Orange flower~ ~Neroli bigarade~

Orange, common name for citrus fruit of several trees. Orange trees are evergreens, with flowers that are white and fragrant. Three essential oils are obtained from oranges: ~oil of orange,~ obtained from the rind of the fruit and used principally as a flavoring agent; ~oil of petigrain,~ obtained from the leaves and twigs and used in perfumery; and ~oil of neroli,~ obtained from the blossoms and used in flavorings and perfumes.

Neroli was discovered in the late 17th century. It is said to be named after a princess of Neroli or Nerola, Italy whose name was Anne-Marie. It was named after the city Neroli, she was princess there. She used it as her personal perfume. Its fragrance relaxes and relieves anxiety, thus traditionally, orange blossoms were used in weddings bouquets and to calm nerves before the bridal couple retired to bed.

It has aphrodisiac properties and in skin care, it stimulates the growth of new cells and helps clear oily skin. Oil of neroli is obtained from the flowers of the ~Bitter orange~ or ~Seville orange~ Known as a ~floral' oil~ it is a pale yellow colour that darkens as it gets older. It has a light and sweet floral scent to it. Tea made from the dried flowers is used as a stimulant and as a blood cleaner in Europe. Orange flower water is a popular cosmetic article. ~Zhishi~ a Chinese traditional name for Citrus aurantium, has been a folk medicine for indigestion. Orange brings peace and happiness to the mind and the body.

During the romantic Victorian era, brides used to carry fresh bouquets of white orange blossoms on their wedding day. These bouquets were so much in demand that they were transported nationwide from Florida for this purpose. Fresh garlands were made into little circlets, and attached to bridal veils. A simple perfumed orange blossom garland was often used to adorn a bride's hair if she chose not to wear a veil, making a tiara.

The orange blossom was designated as Florida's official state flower on May 5, 1909.

orchid button Orchid
Family : Orchidaceae
Common Names: ~Ladies' Fingers~ ~Ladies' Tresses~ ~Long Purples~

Commonly found in Asia, South and Central America, orchids belong to the largest plant families with more than 25,000 species. The name orchid originates from the Greek ~orchis~ meaning ~testicle~ because of the shape of the bulbous roots. Orchids were collected extensively during the 19th Century and are divided into three categories, namely climbing, epiphytic and terrestrial. They are parasites in nature as they grow on wild trees and love dead trees. To germinate, an orchid's seed needs to be penetrated by fungus threads.

It's history is one of lust, greed, and wealth. Greek women thought they could control the sex of their unborn children with orchid roots. If the father ate large, new tubers, the child would be male; if the mother ate small tubers, the child would be female.

The world's largest orchid grows upto 20m long. One of the popular orchids, ~Vanda Miss Joaquim~ was first discovered in the garden of Miss Agnes Joaquim in 1893 and registered in the same year. Among the several varieties of Vanda Miss Joaquim, the variety ~Agnes~ was chosen to be the National Flower of Singapore in 1981.

The most famous orchid, the ~Vanilla orchid~ was said to give strength to the Aztecs, who drank vanilla mixed with chocolate.

The ~Paphiopedilum orchid~ was named for Phaphos, a temple on Cyprus where the love goddess Aphrodite was worshipped.

The orchid is a flower of magnificence that brings a universal message of love, beauty, wisdom, and thoughtfulness. In China it signifies refinement, and the innocence of children. A pink orchid conveys pure affection; the popular cattalya orchid denotes mature charm, and is used in corsages for Mother's Day. Orchids have a vase life of 7 to 14 days.

button Oregano
Origanum vulgare L.
Family: Lamiaceae (mint family)
Common Name: Marjoram
Mediterranean Oregano is the dried leaf of Origanum vulgare L., a perennial herb of the mint family. It was originally grown in Greece and Italy. Oregano was unknown in the United States until after World War II, when soldiers stationed in the Mediterranean, returned home with oregano. Oregano is the spice that gives pizza its flavor. The name Oreganum is the contraction of two Greek words, ~oros~ meaning mountain and ~ganos~ meaning joy. Together the words mean ~joy of the mountain.~

Since Greek and Roman times it has been used to flavour meats, fish, vegetables, and as a flavoring for wine. Greeks and Romans would crown bridal couples with wreaths of marjoram to symbolize love and honor. Oregano was used by the Greeks for medicinal purposes. They made poultices from the leaves and used them to treat sores and aching muscles. Traditional Chinese doctors have used oregano for centuries for a number of ailments. In Europe, it is still used to improve digestion and soothe coughs. Ancients Greeks used to let their cattle graze on fields of oregano, in the belief that it produced tastier meat.

Oregano was considered to be the ~Herb of Magic~ because it was believed that the parent plant was created instantaneously by the gods of Mount Olympus. Oregano, was credited with having mystical secrets for Black Magic. The early Greeks referred to it as Amarkos (named after Amaracus of Greek Mythology). It was said to encourage good luck and good health and used for protection against poisons.

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Friday, January 16, 1998


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