Over the River and through the Botanical Garden

20160105_164051_zpsalrrh8nfAt Xandari we offer a garden and farm tour that consists of showing guests through our botanical garden, Mandala garden, and orchid house and educating them on the properties of each of the plants. When I was asked to translate the tour for our head gardener Jose Luis I immediately accepted. However, after agreeing to be the translator it dawned on me that my rudimentary knowledge about plants (species, genus, and all that scientific terminology amounts to high school level biology) could be a limitation to the learning experience of the guests. Adding to my worry, the guests taking the tour are well versed in plant identification and were hoping to learn more about the tropical plants we have. To prepare myself, I skimmed the plant identification binder we have, decided to take it with me on the tour, and hoped for the best.

After I introduced Jose Luis and myself to the guests, my concerns were assuaged when they laughed at my admission that I was going to learn as much from the tour as they would. The couple was patient with me and they (as well as I) were continuously fascinated by the information Jose Luis imparted. I had walked through the gardens plenty of times and admired the aesthetic beauty of them before, but I had never stopped to learn and appreciate the medicinal value that many of them have.

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Saragundí (Senna reticulate) flower

The whole tour took about two hours, and by the end of it my level of amazement and feeling of reverence for the greenery around the property was intensified. To share a bit of what I learned and in hopes that someone will understand  my enthrallment, the following are a few medicinal and whimsical facts about some of the plants found at Xandari:

The blood-red sap of the Targuá tree (Croton draco) helps alleviate inflammation of the gums and prevent the development of ulcers.

Bringing to a boil the fruit of the Carao tree (Cassia grandis) and mixing it with milk helps purify the blood (and even better, it tastes like chocolate!).

Eating the berry of Miracle Fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum) after consuming something sour (such as lime, for example) will make the acid juice taste sweet and like mandarin.

An infusion of Saragundí tree leaves (Senna reticulate) and boiling water relieves liver ailments.

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