Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Calming Effect of Plants

Tonight's first drawing is of "Passion Flowers". The drawing shows the magenta "petals" and the "crown of thorns" in the centre. The symbolism of Christ's Passion found in the flower gave rise to the name. Supposedly, this connection was made by a Jesuit priest in the 1600's in South America. You can also see in the drawing one of the yellowish-green fruit pods on the upper left hand side.

The Passion flower (
Passiflora incarnata) was used historically in South America and later in Europe as a "calming" herb for anxiety, insomnia, seizures, and hysteria. It is still used today to treat anxiety and insomnia. "Although scientists aren't sure, it is believed that passionflower works by increasing levels of a chemical called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA lowers the activity of some brain cells, resulting in relaxation." Native to southeastern parts of the Western Hemisphere, passion flowers are now grown throughout Europe. It is a perennial climbing vine with herbaceous shoots and a sturdy woody stem that grows to a length of nearly 10 meters (about 32 feet). Each flower has 5 petals and 5 sepals that vary in colour from magenta to blue. According to folklore, the passion flower was given its name because its corona resembles the crown of thorns worn by Jesus during the crucifixion. The passion flower's ripe fruit is an egg-shaped "berry" (it looks like more of a pod to me) that may be yellowish-green or purple. Some kinds of passion fruit are edible.

Tonight's second drawing is of some more "Hibiscus" flowers. I have done at least 2 other drawings of the Hibiscus plant this summer.

The following interesting information comes from Wikipedia:

"The bark of the hibiscus contains strong fibres. They can be obtained by letting the stripped bark sit in the sea in order to let the organic material rot away. In Polynesia these fibres are used for making grass skirts. They have also been known to be used to make wigs.

Hibiscus, especially white hibiscus, is considered to have medicinal properties in the Indian traditional system of medicine Ayurveda. Roots make various concoctions believed to cure various ailments. A 2008 USDA study shows consuming hibiscus tea lowers blood pressure in a group of pre-hypertensive and mildly hypertensive adults.

The natives of southern India use the Red hibiscus for hair care purposes. The red flower and leaves, extracts of which can be applied on hair to tackle hair-fall and dandruff on the scalp. It is used to make hair-protective oils. Its petals are used to cure fever while its roots are used to cure cough.

In the Philippines, the gumamela (local name for hibiscus) is used by children as part of a bubble-making pastime. The flowers and leaves are crushed until the sticky juices come out. Hollow papaya stalks are then dipped into this and used as straws for blowing bubbles. Dried hibiscus is edible, and is often a delicacy in Mexico. The red hibiscus flower is traditionally worn by Tahitian women. A single flower is tucked behind the ear. Which ear is used indicates the wearer's availability for marriage."

Well, that should be enough flower lore for tonight. One of these days I will get around to drawing something besides flowers again. But at the moment, I seem to be fascinated with them.

Peace be with you.

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