Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Here are a couple of questions for you.

1. Do any of you know what a zebapique is?

2. Has anyone out there heard of the noni fruit?

On a recent visit to Trinidad I met up with Mr. Mendez a local who in his spare time does a little subsistence farming, he’s 65 but is as fit as any 25 year old.

Anyway over a coffee he introduces me to the noni fruit and explains to me its medicinal qualities. It has a very pungent odour says Mr. Mendez its not to be sniffed at but drunk very quickly as the smell is like all kinds of horrible stuff including vomit. He opens the fruit up and lets the juices drip from it and it’s that he and other locals drink. Swearing by the nutrient and medicinal properties it has and claims its one of his elixirs to life.

A little research on good old Google reveals that it’s not just found in the Caribbean but is mainly a fruit grown in Southeast Asia and Australasia, although it is now cultivated throughout the tropics and in some Pacific islands, it is the staple food of that region , that’s either eaten raw or cooked.

Its scientific name is Morindacitrifolia and more interestingly it is a tree that belongs to the coffee family, indeed the leaves look similar to those of the coffee plant Rubiaceae

M. citrifolia grows in shady forests, as well as on open rocky or sandy shores. It reaches maturity in about 18 months and can grow up to 9 m (30 ft) tall, yielding between 4 and 8 kg (8.8 and 18 lb) of fruit every month throughout the year. It is tolerant of saline soils, drought conditions, and secondary soils. It is therefore found in a wide variety of habitats: volcanic terrains, lava-strewn coasts, and clearings or limestone outcrops, here in Trinidad it grows along the side of the road and between cracks in the pavement it’s that prolific.

Mr Mendez then brings out a very long withered looking leaf that looks as if its long past its sell by date it’s the Zebapique he exclaims a popular herb used on the island and the Caribbean, for a number of aliments, most commonly the flu. It is also called “Jackass Bitters” (that belongs to the Asteraceae family and known by its scientific name “Neurolaenalobata”).

In Trinidad the leaves of the Zepapiqueare used to make a tea, which is very bitter and also used for its medicinal values mainly for the flu, cough, or fever. Interestingly enough and once again exploring on Google the leaves of the Zebapique contain a potent anti-parasitic agent called sesquiterpenedialdhyde which is effective against intestinal parasites and fungal infections. It states it can also be used to control diabetes and could heal wounds and infections as well as being a good insecticide. Maybe this is what we should have taken on our West Highland Way walk to combat those pesky midges. (See previous entry’s ref whw)

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