Sources of our botanical treasures
For more info on the sea beans, look here.
Bamboo (Bambuseae) is one of the most versatile plants that exist. Bamboos belong to the grasses family. They are know for their fast growth and hollow stem. Their 'timber' is both light and sturdy and has many uses in construction. Bamboo is a plant of great economical and cultural importance: every piece of the plant is used in many different ways. Bamboo is used to build houses and make different utensils. The shoots are eaten. It's used in water purification, irrigation, reforestation and to battle erosion. And on top of all that goodness, it's also the food source of the giant panda, the smaller red panda, the Madagascar bamboo lemur, the mountain gorilla, etc. In conclusion: bamboo is fantastic!
Schima wallichii also known as Needlewood Tree is an evergreen tree belonging to the tea family (Theaceae). It grows 10–20 meters (33–66 ft) tall. The Needlewood tree has different uses in traditional medicine, agroforestry (as a shade tree in coffee plantations), in reforestation and the tannins in the bark are used for dyeing.
Calamus rotang (or Common Rattan) is a climbing rattan palm tree. Its wood is used for furniture, baskets, walking-sticks, umbrellas, tables and wickerwork. Both the shoots and fruit of the rattan are edible. Cane fruit was traditionally used by the tribal people of Asia as a functional food, as it is rich in proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and fiber content. Cane fruit is popular in places like Thailand, where it can be found for sale at street vendors’ stalls. There, it can be bought freshly peeled and ready to eat as an on-the-go snack. Cane fruit is also used in Ayurvedic medicine. The red resin from the scales is known as "dragon's blood".
Casuarina equisetifolia (Australian Pine Tree or Whitsling Pine Tree) is an evergreen growing up to 35 m tall. The slender, green to grey-green twigs bear very small scale-leaves. The fruit looks a bit like a conifer cone, made up of numerous carpels, each containing a single seed with a small wing.
It is used to make beautiful bonsai. The name is derived from the cassowary bird (Casuarius), because the plant's leaves look like the bird's feathers.
Cupressus sempervirens is also known as Mediterrenean Cypress or Common Cypress. The epithet sempervirens means "always green." This epithet has only been applied to three conifers, indicating that conifer taxonomists are more imaginative than they are usually given credit for. Cypress is mostly cultivated as an ornamental tree, but it is also known for its very durable, scented wood, used most famously for the doors of St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City, Rome.
Raphia taedigera, the Raffia Palm. A fibre is derived from the veins of the leaves. It can be used for delicately plaited goods, hats, floor mats, etc. The fibers can be twined into cord and are traditionally used to make fishing nets. The preparation of raffia is one of the most extensive industries in Madagascar. The men cut the palm leaves in the forests and bring them home for the women to complete the work. The fruits are called uxi nuts or uxi pods.
Dregea volubilis is a plant native to India and neighbouring countries. The young shoots are eaten, and both the leaves, stems, and roots are used medicinally. The stems also yield a fiber. The parts we use at Manine Montessori are (parts of) dried fruit pods.
The bell cups in our sets are a byproduct of the food industry in India. From the Aegle marmelos tree, commonly known as bael, Bengal quince, golden apple, Japanese bitter orange, stone apple or wood apple. Bael is considered a sacred tree by Hindus.
The fruits can be eaten either fresh or after being dried and produced into candy, toffee, pulp powder or nectar. The juice can be strained and sweetened to make a drink similar to lemonade.
The cinnamon tree, Cinnamomum cassia has aromatic bark that is used as a spice worldwide. Here you can see it being harvested. The commercial spice is mostly produced in Indonesia and China.
The ancient Egyptians already imported it and used it to embalm mummies.
Cocos nucifera, the coconut palm, is often referred to as the "tree of life", because it has so many uses. It provides food, fuel, cosmetics, traditional medicine, building materials and more. The different parts of the fruit are used for different purposes. The outer layer, the husk, provides fiber. The hard shells can be used to make charcoal, utensils or decorative objects. The inner flesh of the mature seed can be eaten. When dried, it's called copra and oil and milk can be derived from it, that can be used in cooking and cosmetics. In the center of the flesh of the fruit there is the coconut water or coconut juice.
The Luffa aegyptiaca or ridge gourd is best known for its use as a scrubbing sponge. In China and Vietnam the young fruits are eaten as vegetables. When the fruit is fully ripened, it is very fibrous and can be peeled to reveal the sponges that are used in the bathroom or kitchen.