A uthor Neville S. Haile traveled extensively in Malaysia in search of coconut pearls. In Jakarta he purchased a white, pear-shaped stone called “mastika kelapa,” supposedly obtained from a coconut. The name mastika (also spelled mestika or mostika) refers to rare Malaysian stones found inside fruits. Striations on the stone together with its specific gravity revelaed that it was composed of aragonite, the same material found in mollusk shells. Haile examined other coconut pearls in collections and published his conclusions in The Straits Times Annual (1974). According to Haile, there are at least three kinds of objects sold as coconut pearls: (1) “Rather crude artifacts made from shell (probably slightly translucent, banded giant clam shell) with rather crude incised grooves.” This type fits his original Jakarta purchase. (2) “Chalky white, finely banded and finely grooved pearls probably also artifacts of shell, either young giant clam, or some other kind of shell.” (3) “Pearls from mollusks, including giant clams.” Haile also states that although a number of bogus coconut pearls have been exposed, this does not disprove the existence of genuine ones. In my opinion, there is substantial evidence that pearls are not produced inside coconuts. In fact, I am astounded that some botanical references still perpetuate secondhand evidence for their existence. The existence of coconut pearls seems to be based on faith rather than objective scientific evidence.
T he seeds and hard, stony endocarps of several palms native to the luxuriant Napo River rain forest in Ecuador are used for necklaces. One of the most striking is the starnut palm ( Astrocaryum huicungo ), so named because the seed-bearing endocarps have etched, starlike designs around the three pores at the basal end. Starnut palms are unmistakable in the dense rain forest with long, sharp spines up to five inches long. The bony, top-shaped endocarps are polished and made into necklaces by Indians along the Napo River, a tributary of the Amazon. They are often strung with shiny gray seeds of Job’s tears and the distinctive red and black seeds of the necklace tree ( Ormosia ). Some of the Amazonian necklaces are also adorned with brightly colored parrot feathers, claws and teeth of jaguars, and even a dried piranha. Peruvian Indians hunt monkeys for food and use the monkey bones for necklaces. Hollow, slender bones are often strung with bright red seeds from a species of necklace tree ( Ormosia ) or from the tropical vine ( Rhynchosia ). Sometimes the entire monkey skull is displayed in the necklace. Peruvian Indians also use claws from the giant anteater or lesser anteater (tamandua), strung with metallic leg segments from a tropical beetle.
S ea beans are also called "hamburger seeds" because of the unusual central layer (hilum) where they were connected inside the bean pod. The Spanish name for sea bean is "ojo de buey" because of its striking resemblance to the eye of a bull. Sea beans are produced by climbing woody vines (lianas) that twine through the tropical forest like a botanical boa constrictor. The seed pods are covered with microscopic velvety hairs (trichomes) that can be extremely painful–especially if they get into your eyes. In the Caribbean and Central America, the hairs were stirred into honey or syrup as a remedy to expel intestinal parasites.
17. Vegetable Ivory From Palm Seeds
S everal other attractive seeds from the legume family (Fabaceae) are used for necklaces in the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America. The most spectacular are from the striking half-red, half-black seeds of precatory bean ( Abrus precatorius ) and the very similar vine, Rhynchosia precatoria . Although the seeds of both species may be toxic if ingested, those of precatory bean are particularly dangerous due to insidious proteins called lectins. Lectins can cause red blood cells to clump together (agglutinate) and may stimulate abnormal cell division in quiescent B and T-lymphocytes. Because of their hard seed coat, the seeds are especially potent when ground up. One thoroughly masticated seed could be fatal to an adult human. In spite of their reputation as one of the world’s most deadly seeds, precatory beans are certainly one of the most beautiful seeds on earth. They are sometimes called prayer beans or rosary beans and have been used for rosaries. Because of their remarkably uniform weight of 1/10th of a gram, seeds of Abrus precatorius were used by goldsmiths of East Asia as standard weights for weighing gold and silver. In fact, the famous Koh-i-noor diamond of India, now one of the British crown jewels, was reportedly weighed using seeds of Abrus precatorius .
W eedy plants are occasionally used for seed necklaces in the tropics. The wild tamarind ( Leucaena leucocephala ) is a common shrub along roadsides throughout tropical regions of the new world. It is a prolific seed producer–with 12,000 seeds to a pound. The shiny brown seeds are softened in boiling water and strung on fishing line to make attractive necklaces and belts with intricate designs. The leaves and flattened seed pods make a high protein fodder for livestock, but horses, donkeys and hogs lose hair if they consume the plant. The seeds and foliage of Leucaena contain large amounts of the amino acid mimosine, which causes inhibition of hair growth and loss of hair in laboratory mice.]
F or centuries amber was imported from Europe across the Mediterranean to West Africa and down the Red Sea to Ethiopia. The sheer beauty of amber has made it a popular adornment for African women, who wear it in various styles according to their marital status and cultural heritage. In fact, some of the world’s most beautiful and elegant amber jewelry is worn by women of Ethiopia and Mali.
H umans have been decorating their bodies with the beauty of natural objects for thousands of years. Primitive man wore necklaces made from the bones, claws and teeth of slain animals. Today most people think of natural jewelry as shiny pieces of corals, pearls and precious or semiprecious stones, polished and set in gold or silver. Who would ever believe that some of the most unusual and striking jewelry in the world comes from plants? With the exception of amber and coconut pearls, most botanical jewelry is made from relatively inexpensive materials. Polished wooden beads, colorful seeds and pieces of palm, bamboo and tropical hardwoods are strung on fine nylon filament or gold and silver chains, producing attractive necklaces and bracelets that rival any synthetic costume jewelry. In terms of aesthetic beauty and intrinsic value, plant jewelry may rank as high as any gemstone. Exotic seed necklaces from native cultures throughout the world often come with fabulous tales about their origins and legendary uses.
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Block Reference: #47d497a0-d4c6-11eb-b065-4573749a6def
Date and time: Thu, 24 Jun 2021 08:29:23 GMT
Charlotte, North Carolina
On Oct 12, 2004, oscarkat from (Zone 7a) wrote:
On Nov 3, 2004, FranciscoSantos from Bras�lia,
I have been growing this beautiful vine from seed, for a few years here in southern Ontario (Hamilton area). It is a very strong, lush vine and the flowers are huge and they have a really great scent.
The only problem is that they need a good head start inside or else it is very late in the summer or fall that they bloom. I find that they need a lot of sun and warmth.
An awsome vine.
On Jun 21, 2010, OITGAD from Hicksville, NY wrote: