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This erect shrub with large, glossy green, prominently veined leaves that can become a small tree several feet tall. It is grown as a garden ornamental less for its pale pink flowers, which last only one day, than for its highly decorative two-valved seed pods, covered with soft, deep red hairs. The seeds inside are surrounded by orange-red arils, which yield a dye called annato that can be used in small quantities to color lipstick and foods like cheese and margarine; the dried seed pods are also effective in flower arrangements. When used as a hedge or screen, Bixa should be pruned often to encourage bush growth at the bottom of the trunk.
Boesenbergia rotunda, or Chinese Keys, is a small shrub native to Southeast Asia and grows to a height of 2-5 feet. It has large, glossy leaves, and its pink to off-white flowers are tubular and aromatic, and appear in terminal inflorescences. It is often planted for ornamental purposes, and its rhizomes are typically used as a vegetable in main dishes, or eaten raw when young.
When grown in USDA Zone 9-11, the plant should be placed in semi-shade and be given regular, but moderate watering. It is also important to give Boesenbergia rotunda an adequate amount of nitrogen to ensure its continued vitality. In colder regions, it can be grown in a pot, and should be transferred indoors during the winter.
Boesenbergia rotunda bears interesting, edible fruits, and has an impressive ethnomedical history. The small, hard fruits are often used as a spice or herb, and have a slightly sweet and sour taste. In traditional medicine, the plant is touted for its medicinal uses, and believed to have antispasmodic, anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties. Eating the fruit can also directly benefit health, as it is said to improve circulation, ease stomach pain, and relieve menstrual cramps. In addition, it is thought to help improve digestion and reduce inflammation. One mature plant can produce up to sixty fruits per season.
Calendula officinalis is an aromatic annual plant, widely cultivated for its showy, yellow or orange, rayed flower heads used in medicine, coloring, and flavoring of food. There are numerous cultivars of calendula with double flowers in colors ranging from cream to deep orange-red.
It is used for the treatment of skin disorders and pain, and as a bactericide, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.
Flowers appear at the beginning of the rainy season. Their fragrance escapes from hundreds of tiny blossoms to form a cloud that hovers over the area.