July 31, 2012

Amla or Indian Gooseberry

Indian gooseberry (amla)

Scientific classification
P. emblica
Binomial name
Phyllanthus emblica

Cicca emblica Kurz
Emblica officinalis
Mirobalanus embilica
Phyllanthus mairei
Phyllanthus emblica (syn. Emblica officinalis), the Indian gooseberry is a deciduous tree of the Phyllanthaceae family. It is known for its edible fruit of the same name.

Plant anatomy and harvesting
The tree is small to medium in size, reaching 8 to 18 m in height, with a crooked trunk and spreading branches. The branchlets are glabrous or finely pubescent, 10–20 cm long, usually deciduous; the leaves are simple, subsessile and closely set along branchlets, light green, resembling pinnate leaves. The flowers are greenish-yellow. The fruit are nearly spherical, light greenish yellow, quite smooth and hard on appearance, with six vertical stripes or furrows.
Ripening in autumn, the berries are harvested by hand after climbing to upper branches bearing the fruits. The taste of Indian gooseberry is sour, bitter and astringent, and it is quite fibrous. In India, it is common to eat gooseberries steeped in salt water and turmeric to make the sour fruits palatable. It is also used to straighten hair.
Medical research

Raw Gooseberries
Indian gooseberry has undergone preliminary research, demonstrating in vitro antiviral and antimicrobial properties.  There is preliminary evidence in vitro that its extracts induce apoptosis and modify gene expression in osteoclasts involved in rheumatoid arthritis and osteoporosis.  It may prove to have potential activity against some cancers.  One recent animal study found treatment with E. officinalis reduced severity of acute pancreatitis (induced by L-arginine in rats). It also promoted the spontaneous repair and regeneration process of the pancreas occurring after an acute attack.
Experimental preparations of leaves, bark or fruit have shown potential efficacy against laboratory models of disease, such as for inflammation, cancer, age-related renal disease, and diabetes.
A human pilot study demonstrated a reduction of blood cholesterol levels in both normal and hypercholesterolemic men with treatment.  Another recent study with alloxan-induced diabetic rats given an aqueous amla fruit extract has shown significant decrease of the blood glucose, as well as triglyceridemic levels and an improvement of the liver function caused by a normalization of the liver-specific enzyme alanine transaminase activity.
Although these fruits are reputed to contain high amounts of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 445 mg/100g,  the specific contents are disputed, and the overall antioxidant strength of amla may derive instead from its high density of ellagitannins  such as emblicanin A (37%), emblicanin B (33%), punigluconin (12%) and pedunculagin (14%).  It also contains punicafolin and phyllanemblinin A, B, C, D, E and F.
The fruit also contains other polyphenols: flavonoids, kaempferol, ellagic acid and gallic acid.
Cultural & Religious Significance
According to Hindu tradition, Saint Adi Shankara composed and recited Kanakadhara stotram in praise of Goddess Mahalakshmi to make a poor Brahmin lady get wealth, for a single amla presented to him as Bhiksha by that lady on an auspicious Dwadashi day.
An ancient Tamil legend
According to a Tamil legend, AvvaiyarTamil: ஔவையார்), a female poet,ethicist and political activist of the Sangam period was gifted by one amla to her by King Athiyaman which will give her a long life.
Traditional uses
Medicinal use
In traditional Indian medicine, dried and fresh fruits of the plant are used. All parts of the plant are used in various Ayurvedic/Unani medicine (Jawarish amla) herbal preparations, including the fruit, seed, leaves, root, bark and flowers.  According to Ayurveda, aamla fruit is sour (amla) and astringent (kashaya) in taste (rasa), with sweet (madhura), bitter (tikta) and pungent (katu) secondary tastes (anurasas). Its qualities (gunas) are light (laghu) and dry (ruksha), the postdigestive effect (vipaka) is sweet (madhura), and its energy (virya) is cooling (shita).
According to Ayurveda, aamla balances all three doshas. While aamla is unusual in that it contains five out of the six tastes recognized by Ayurved, it is most important to recognize the effects of the "virya", or potency, and "vipaka", or post-digestive effect. Considered in this light, aamla is particularly helpful in reducing pitta due to its cooling energy. and balances both Pitta and vata by virtue of its sweet taste. The kapha is balanced primarily due to its drying action. It may be used as a rasayana (rejuvenative) to promote longevity, and traditionally to enhance digestion (dipanapachana), treat constipation (anuloma), reduce fever (jvaraghna), purify the blood (raktaprasadana), reduce cough (kasahara), alleviate asthma (svasahara), strengthen the heart (hrdaya), benefit the eyes (chakshushya), stimulate hair growth (romasanjana), enliven the body (jivaniya), and enhance intellect (medhya).
In Ayurvedic polyherbal formulations, Indian gooseberry is a common constituent, and most notably is the primary ingredient in an ancient herbal rasayana called Chyawanprash. This formula, which contains 43 herbal ingredients as well as clarified butter, sesame oil, sugar cane juice, and honey, was first mentioned in the Charaka Samhita as a premier rejuvenative compound.

A jar of South Indian Andhra amla pickle
In Chinese traditional therapy, this fruit is called yuganzi (余甘子), which is used to cure throat inflammation.
Emblica officinalis tea may ameliorate diabetic neuropathy. In rats it significantly reduced blood glucose, food intake, water intake and urine output in diabetic rats compared with the non diabetic control group. 
Culinary use
Particularly in South India, the fruit is pickled with salt, oil, and spices. Aamla is eaten raw or cooked into various dishes. In Andhra Pradesh, tender varieties are used to prepare dal (a lentil preparation), and amle ka murabbah, a sweet dish indigenous to the northern part of India (wherein the berries are soaked in sugar syrup for a long time till they are imparted the sweet flavor); it is traditionally consumed after meals.
Other uses
Popularly used in inks, shampoos and hair oils, the high tannin content of Indian gooseberry fruit serves as a mordant for fixing dyes in fabrics.  Amla shampoos and hair oil are traditionally believed to nourish the hair and scalp and prevent premature grey hair. 

 Alternate names
Names of this tree in Indian and other languages include:
amalika in Sanskrit
aamla in Hindi
aamla in Gujarati
aavnlaa (awla) (or awla) in اردو
aavalaa (or awla) in Marathi
ambare in Garo language
avaalo in Konkani
sunhlu in Mizo
amala  in Nepali
amloki (
আমলকী) in Bengali
amlakhi in Assamese
amla in Oriya
Aula in Punjabi
nellikka in Malayalam
heikru in Manipuri
sohmylleng in Khasi
usiri (or usirikai ) in Telugu
nellikkai nellikkaai or nellikaayi) in Tamil and Kannada
nelli in Sinhala
mak kham bom in Lao
ma kham pom  in Thai
anmole in Chinese
skyu ru ra in Tibetan
melaka in Malay, A state in Malaysia, Malacca was named after this tree.
zee phyu thee in Myanmar
Also found are the names emblic, emblic myrobalan, malacca tree and the variants in spelling aola, ammalaki, aamvala, aawallaa, dharty, nillika, and nellikya.

Fruit with young leaves and flower buds.

Flowering twigs

New leaves.

Tree trunk.
Bark of the Indian Goosebery.

July 13, 2012


Scientific classification
A. graveolens
Binomial name
Apium graveolens

Apium graveolens is a plant species in the family Apiaceae commonly known as celery (var. dulce) or celeriac (var. rapaceum), depending on whether the petioles (stalks) or roots are eaten: celery refers to the former and celeriac to the latter. Apium graveolens grows to 1 m tall. The leaves are pinnate to bipinnate leaves with rhombic leaflets 3–6 cm long and 2–4 cm broad. The flowers are creamy-white, 2–3 mm diameter, produced in dense compound umbels. The seeds are broad ovoid to globose, 1.5–2 mm long and wide.


Apium graveolens, leaf cellery
First attested in English 1664, the word "celery" derives from the French céleri, in turn from Italian seleri, the plural of selero, which comes from Late Latin selinon  the latinisation of the Greek σέλινον (selinon), "parsley"  The earliest attested form of the word is the Mycenaean Greek se-ri-no, written in Linear B syllabic script.
Celery was described by Carl von Linné in Volume One of his Species Plantarum in 1753.
The closely related Apium bermejoi from the island of Minorca is one of the rarest plants in Europe, with fewer than 100 individuals left.

Head of celery, sold as a vegetable. Usually only the stalks are eaten.

Celery root, or celeriac, is also used as a vegetable.
In North America, commercial production of celery is dominated by the varieties called Pascal celery.  Gardeners can grow a range of cultivars, many of which differ little from the wild species, mainly in having stouter leaf stems. They are ranged under two classes, white and red; the white cultivars being generally the best flavoured, and the most crisp and tender. The stalks grow in tight, straight, parallel bunches, and are typically marketed fresh that way, without roots and just a little green leaf remaining.
The wild form of celery is known as "smallage". It has a furrowed stalk with wedge-shaped leaves, the whole plant having a coarse, earthy taste, and a distinctive smell. The stalks are not usually eaten (except in soups or stews in French cuisine), but the leaves may be used in salads, and its seeds are those sold as a spice.  With cultivation and blanching, the stalks lose their acidic qualities and assume the mild, sweetish, aromatic taste particular to celery as a salad plant.
The plants are raised from seed, sown either in a hot bed or in the open garden according to the season of the year, and after one or two thinnings and transplantings, they are, on attaining a height of 15–20 cm, planted out in deep trenches for convenience of blanching, which is effected by earthing up to exclude light from the stems.
In the past, celery was grown as a vegetable for winter and early spring; it was perceived as a cleansing tonic, welcomed to counter the salt-sickness of a winter diet. By the 19th century, the season for celery had been extended, to last from the beginning of September to late in April.
Harvesting and storage

Cross-section of a Pascal celery rib
Harvesting occurs when the average size of celery in a field is marketable; due to extremely uniform crop growth, fields are harvested only once. The petioles and leaves are removed and harvested; celery is packed by size and quality (determined by colour, shape, straightness and thickness of petiole, stalk and midrib length and absence of disease, cracks, splits, insect damage and rot). Under optimal conditions, celery can be stored for up to seven weeks between 0 to 2 °C (32 to 36 °F). Inner stalks may continue growing if kept at temperatures above 0 °C (32 °F). Freshly cut petioles of celery are prone to decay, which can be prevented or reduced through the use of sharp blades during processing, gentle handling, and proper sanitation.
Cut pieces of celery last only a few hours before they turn brown, and few American restaurants include it in green salads because it cannot be prepared far enough ahead of time. In the past, restaurants used to store it in a container of water with powdered vegetable preservative; however, the sulfites in the preservative caused allergic reactions in some people.  In 1986, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration banned the use of sulfites on fruits and vegetables intended to be eaten raw.
Apium graveolens is used around the world as a vegetable, either for the crisp petiole (leaf stalk) or the fleshy toproot.
In temperate countries, celery is also grown for its seeds. Actually very small fruit, these "seeds" yield a valuable volatile oil used in the perfume and pharmaceutical industries. They also contain an organic compound called apiol. Celery seeds can be used as flavouring or spice, either as whole seeds or ground and mixed with salt, as celery salt. Celery salt can also be made from an extract of the roots. Celery salt is used as a seasoning, in cocktails (notably to enhance the flavour of Bloody Mary cocktails), on the Chicago-style hot dog, and in Old Bay Seasoning.
Celery, onions, and bell peppers are the holy trinity of Louisiana Creole and Cajun cuisine. Celery, onions, and carrots make up the French mirepoix, often used as a base for sauces and soups. Celery is a staple in many soups, such as chicken noodle soup.

Celery seeds
The use of celery seed in pills for relieving pain was described by Aulus Cornelius Celsus around 30 AD.  Celery seeds contain a compound, 3-n-butylphthalide, that has been demonstrated to lower blood pressure in rats.
Bergapten in the seeds can increase photosensitivity, so the use of essential oil externally in bright sunshine should be avoided. The oil and large doses of seeds should be avoided during pregnancy, as they can act as a uterine stimulant. Seeds intended for cultivation are not suitable for eating as they are often treated with fungicides.
Celery, raw
Nutritional value per 100 g (3.5 oz)
57 kJ (14 kcal)
3 g
- Sugars
1.4 g
- Dietary fibre
1.6 g
0.2 g
0.7 g
95 g
Vitamin C
3 mg (4%)

Celery is used in weight-loss diets, where it provides low-calorie dietary fibre bulk. Celery is often purported to be a "negative calorie food" based on the assumption that it contains fewer calories than it takes to digest; however, this statement has no scientific merit.
Celery is among a small group of foods (headed by peanuts) that appear to provoke the most severe allergic reactions; for people with celery allergy, exposure can cause potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.  The allergen does not appear to be destroyed at cooking temperatures. Celery root—commonly eaten as celeriac, or put into drinks—is known to contain more allergen than the stalk. Seeds contain the highest levels of allergen content. Exercise-induced anaphylaxis may be exacerbated. An allergic reaction also may be triggered by eating foods that have been processed with machines that have previously processed celery, making avoiding such foods difficult. In contrast with peanut allergy being most prevalent in the US, celery allergy is most prevalent in Central Europe.n  In the European Union, foods that contain or may contain celery, even in trace amounts, must be clearly marked as such.
Polyacetylenes can be found in Apiaceae vegetables like celery where they show cytotoxic activities.
Daniel Zohary and Maria Hopf  note that celery leaves and inflorescences were part of the garlands found in the tomb of pharaoh Tutankhamun (died 1323 BC), and celery mericarps dated to the seventh century BC were recovered in the Heraion of Samos. However, they note "since A. graveolens grows wild in these areas, it is hard to decide whether these remains represent wild or cultivated forms." Only by classical times is it certain that celery was cultivated.
M. Fragiska mentions an archeological find of celery dating to the 9th century BC, at Kastanas; however, the literary evidence for ancient Greece is far more abundant. In Homer's Iliad, the horses of the Myrmidons graze on wild celery that grows in the marshes of Troy, and in Odyssey, there is mention of the meadows of violet and wild celery surrounding the cave of Calypso.
Cultural depictions

Selinunte didrachm coin bearing a selinon (celery) leaf, circa 515-470 BC.

Apium illustration from Barbarus Apuleius' Herbarium, circa 1400.
A chthonian symbol among the ancient Greeks, celery was said to have sprouted from the blood of Kadmilos, father of the Cabeiri, chthonian divinities celebrated in Samothrace, Lemnos and Thebes. The spicy odour and dark leaf colour encouraged this association with the cult of death. In classical Greece, celery leaves were used as garlands for the dead, and the wreaths of the winners at the Isthmian Games were first made of celery before being replaced by crowns made of pine. According to Pliny the Elder  in Achaea, the garland worn by the winners of the sacred Nemean Games was also made of celery.  The Ancient Greek colony of Selinous (Greek: Σελινος, Selinoūs), on Sicily, was named after wild parsley that grew abundantly there; Selinountian coins depicted a parsley leaf as the symbol of the city.
The name "celery" retraces the plant's route of successive adoption in European cooking, as the English "celery" (1664) is derived from the French céleri coming from the Lombard term, seleri, from the Latin selinon, borrowed from Greek.
Celery's surprisingly late arrival in the English kitchen is an end-product of the long tradition of seed selection needed to reduce the sap's bitterness and increase its sugars. By 1699, John Evelyn could recommend it in his Acetaria. A Discourse of Sallets: "Sellery, apium Italicum, (and of the Petroseline Family) was formerly a stranger with us (nor very long since in Italy) is an hot and more generous sort of Macedonian Persley or Smallage...and for its high and grateful Taste is ever plac'd in the middle of the Grand Sallet, at our Great Men's tables, and Praetors feasts, as the Grace of the whole Board".
Celery has made a surprising appearance in football folklore. Supporters of English Premier League team Chelsea and Football League team Gillingham regularly sing songs about the vegetable and are famed for throwing celery during matches. This has also given rise to the "Chelsea Cocktail", a pint of Guinness garnished with a stick of celery.
The Fifth incarnation of Doctor Who, Peter Davison, was noted for wearing a stalk of celery on his lapel, claiming it at one point to be an excellent restorative, though the human olfactory sense was comparatively weak.