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Nov 8, 2010

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Nov 3, 2010

National Flowers "Floral emblem" Series (AFRICA)

LOTUS
(National Flower of Egypt (Africa))

Nelumbo nucifera, known by a number of names including Indian Lotus, Sacred Lotus, Bean of India, or simply Lotus, is a plant in the Nelumbonaceae family. Botanically, Nelumbo nucifera (Gaertn.) may also be referred to by its former names, Nelumbium speciosum (Willd.) or Nymphaea nelumbo. This plant is an aquatic perennial. Under favorable circumstances its seeds may remain viable for many years, with the oldest recorded lotus germination being from that of seeds 1300 years old recovered from a dry lakebed in northeastern China.
A common misconception is referring to the lotus as a waterlily (Nymphaea), an entirely different plant as can be seen from the center of the flower, which clearly lacks the structure that goes on to form the distinctive circular seed pod in the Nelumbo nucifera.Waterlilies come in various colors, whereas the lotus has flowers only in hues of pink, or white.

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CALLA LILY (Zantedeschia)
(National Flower of Ethiopia(Africa))

Zantedeschia is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants in the family Araceae, native to southern Africa from South Africa north to Malawi. The name of the genus was given as a tribute to Italian botanist Giovanni Zantedeschi (1773–1846) by the German botanist Kurt Sprengel (1766–1833). Common names include arum lily for Z. aethiopica, calla, and calla lily for Z. elliottiana and Z. rehmannii although it is neither a true lily (Liliaceae), nor Arum or Calla (related genera in Araceae). It is also often erroneously spelled as "cala lily". It has often been used in many paintings, and is visible in many of Diego Rivera's works of art (see The Flower Vendor, amongst others).
The Zantedeschia are rhizomatous herbaceous perennial plants growing to 1-2.5 m tall with leaves 15–45 cm long. The inflorescence is a showy white, yellow or pink spathe shaped like a funnel with a yellow, central, finger-like spadix.
The Zantedeschia species are poisonous due to the presence of calcium oxalate. "All parts of the plant are toxic, and produce irritation and swelling of the mouth and throat, acute vomiting and diarrhea." However leaves are sometimes cooked and eaten.



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ALOE VERA
(National Flower of Lesotho (Africa))

Aloe vera, also known as the true or medicinal aloe, is a species of succulent plant that probably originated in the southern half of the Arabian peninsula, Northern Africa, the Canary islands and Cape Verde. Aloe vera grows in arid climates and is widely distributed in Africa, India and other arid areas. The species is frequently cited as being used in herbal medicine. Many scientific studies of the use of aloe vera have been undertaken, some of them conflicting. Despite these limitations, there is some preliminary evidence that Aloe vera extracts may be useful in the treatment of wound and burn healing, minor skin infections, Sebaceous cyst, diabetes and elevated blood lipids in humans.These positive effects are thought to be due to the presence of compounds such as polysaccharides, mannans, anthraquinones and lectins.

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Black Pepper

(National Flower of Liberia (Africa))

Black pepper (Piper nigrum) is a flowering vine in the family Piperaceae, cultivated for its fruit, which is usually dried and used as a spice and seasoning. The fruit, known as a peppercorn when dried, is approximately 5 millimetres (0.20 in) in diameter, dark red when fully mature, and, like all drupes, contains a single seed. Peppercorns, and the powdered pepper derived from grinding them, may be described simply as pepper, or more precisely as black pepper, white pepper, or green pepper. Green peppercorns are simply the immature black peppercorns.

Black peppers are native to India and is extensively cultivated there and elsewhere in tropical regions. Currently Vietnam is by far the world's largest producer and exporter of pepper, producing 34% of the world's Piper nigrum crop as of 2008.


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POMEGRANATE BLOSSOM

(National Flower of Libya (Africa))

The pomegranate is native to the region of Persia and the Himalayan ranges of India, and has been cultivated in Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, North India, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and the Mediterranean region for several millennia.

The leaves are opposite or sub-opposite, glossy, narrow oblong, entire, 3–7 cm long and 2 cm broad. The flowers are bright red, 3 cm in diameter, with four to five petals (often more on cultivated plants). Some fruitless varieties are grown for the flowers alone. The edible fruit is a berry and is between a lemon and a grapefruit in size, 5–12 cm in diameter with a rounded hexagonal shape, and has thick reddish skin and around 600 seeds. Each seed has a surrounding water-laden pulp  — the aril  — ranging in color from white to deep red or purple.
Pomegranates are drought-tolerant, and can be grown in dry areas with either a Mediterranean winter rainfall climate or in summer rainfall climates. In wetter areas, they are prone to root decay from fungal diseases. They are tolerant of moderate frost, down to about −10°C (14°F).


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COSTUS SPECTABILIS

(National Flower of Nigeria (Africa))

Costus spectabilis is the floral emblem of Nigeria; its flowers are represented (erroneously in red instead of yellow color) on its coat of arms. It is important not to confuse "Costus speciousus, C. spectabilis etc. with the herb known by the common name 'costus'. Some species are of importance to herbivores, such as caterpillars of the Restricted Demon (Notocrypta curvifascia) which feed on Crape Ginger (C. speciosus). The Crape Ginger is also a source of diosgenin, a compound used for the commercial production of various steroids, such as progesterone. On Trinidad and Tobago, a mix of Costus scaber juice and crushed Renealmia alpinia berries is used to treat dogs bitten by snakes. Costus root has been used as an incense and perfume ingredient for thousands of years and is mentioned in Rabbinical writings, used extensively in Tibetan incense and medicine and is also used as an aromatic stomatic in Chinese herbal medicine under the name "Mu Xiang" meaning 'wood aroma'.

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KING PROTIA

(National Flower of South Africa (Africa))

The King Protea (Protea cynaroides) is a flowering plant. It is a distinctive Protea, having the largest flower head in the genus. The species is also known as Giant Protea, Honeypot or King Sugar Bush. It is widely distributed in the southwestern and southern parts of South Africa of the fynbos region.

The King Protea is the National Flower of South Africa. It also is the flagship of the The Protea Atlas Project, run by the South African National Botanical Institute.

The King Protea has several colour forms and horticulturists have recognized 81 garden varieties, some of which have injudiciously been planted in its natural range. In some varieties the pink of the flower and red borders of leaves are replaced by a creamy yellow. This unusual flower has a long vase life in flower arrangements, and makes for an excellent dried flower.

Protea cynaroides is adapted to survive the fires by its thick underground stem, which contains many dormant buds; these will produce the new growth after the fire.


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FLAME LILY (Gloriosa) 
(National Flower of Zimbabwe (Africa))
 
Gloriosa is a genus of five or six species in the plant family Colchicaceae, from tropical Africa and Asia. The most common English names are flame lily, fire lily, gloriosa lily, glory lily, superb lily, climbing lily, and creeping lily. They are tender, tuberous rooted deciduous perennials, adapted to summer rainfall with a dormant dry season. Their native range is Africa, Southeastern Asia and parts of Malaysia, but they are now widely cultivated. All parts of the plant contain colchicine and related alkaloids and are therefore dangerously toxic if ingested, especially the tubers; contact with the stems and leaves can cause skin irritation.

Various preparations of the plant are used in traditional medicines for a variety of complaints in both Africa and India.

Gloriosa superba is the national flower of Zimbabwe, former Rhodesia (where it is a protected plant). It is also the state flower of Tamil Nadu state in India, and was the national flower of Tamil Eelam, and as such was displayed during Maaveerar Day.

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