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The IT plant is known as a caudex in this phase, when it is very young.
The leaves of the IT plant can be consumed as a tea and as a nutritious substitute for milk.
On Thursday, Apr. 24, celebrate Earth Day in front of Bldg. 1 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will include food, fun, activities and informative displays. The Earth Day celebration is for all adults and children here for Take Your Child to Work Day. More detailed information will be available in April.
The mystery plants in previous Earth Day contests were sources of potentially important medicines and were threatened in their native lands because of habitat destruction, over-harvesting, poaching and other challenges stemming from human activities. This year’s mystery plant also has important medicinal properties but is not endangered. In fact, perhaps like no other single species, this plant has the potential to help reverse multiple major environmental problems and provide for many unmet human needs. Here are some clues for contestants:
Unlike the plants in previous contests that came from Africa, IT originally came from Tamil Nadu. But you can now find IT grown in many tropical areas of the world.
IT comes from a small family, but many of its closest relatives have very big trunks. ITs is only big when IT is very young, as in the photo above. At that stage IT is called a caudex.
Like the Jathropa (a member of another much bigger family), IT can easily be grown in drought, on poor, damaged soils and can also help to reclaim them. ITs seeds also contain oil that can be used as a source of renewable energy. But Jathropa is toxic and really overrated because IT can be:
Eaten—all parts. ITs high-quality oil can be used in cooking and ITs leaves (see photo) can be consumed as a tea and as a nutritious substitute for milk. They are an excellent source of protein and iron—you won’t find that in many other plants. Here’s how IT compares with other foods: 7 times the vitamin C of oranges; 4 times the calcium of milk and twice the protein of yogurt. Many other vitamins and minerals are present—literally from A to zinc, and all the essential amino acids.
Grown in all countries of the world that have significant percentages of their population malnourished. IT could save millions of lives.
Used to purify polluted water, working as both a coagulant (for removal of turbidity) and as an anti-microbial. Extracts from its seeds can be used on a small or large scale as a low-cost, locally available alternative for water treatment chemicals.
Used as medicine by native peoples to prevent or treat over 300 diseases. Additional scientific studies are needed to confirm its effectiveness for these traditional uses.
IT is known by over 100 names in different languages around the world. NIH’s contest will accept any name commonly used in English or scientific name (genus and species).
Entries for the plant contest are due by Apr. 16 and should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. Prize winners will be selected randomly from all correct answers submitted.