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DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT and to provide stern warnings against use where appropriate. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past, but be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.




AMBRETTE
aka Semen Abelmoschi, Grana Moschata, Ambretta, Eygyptian Alce Bisornkorner, Ambrakorner, Musk Seed,
Target-leaved Hibiscus, Ab-el-mosch, Bamia Moschata, Ketmie odorante, Galu gasturi, Capu kanassa

(Abelmoschus moschatus syn Hibiscus abelmoschus)
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NOTE: Although the oil has a history of use as a food flavoring and in perfumery and cosmetics as a musk substitute, it has been largely discontinued since the oil can cause photosensitivity.

A bristly subshrub of the mallow family probably native to India. The flowers are hibiscus-like and yellow. A cultivar called "mischief" has red blooms. The leaves are lobed and the angular fruits (seedpods) are hairy. The seeds are musk-scented. The name is taken from the Arabic "abu-L-mosk" meaning "father of musk". It is related to A. esculentus (common okra).

PROPAGATION: By seed in spring or by semi-ripe cuttings in summer. Should be pot grown in the north or considered a half-hardy annual.
NEEDS: Rich, well-drained soil in a sunny position. Young plants should have the growing tips pinched back to ensure a fuller plant. If pot grown, cut back to 6" in the spring.
HARVEST: Foliage and pods are picked when young and tender; the flowers as they open and then used fresh; the bark and roots as needed to extract fiber and mucilage; the fruits as they begin to ripen, then dried until the seeds are shed. The seeds are stored separately to avoid the stong musk order permeating other items or surfaces. The seeds are distilled for oil.
PART USED: Leaves, bark, roots, flowers, pods, seeds, oil.



USES

MEDICINAL:
Considered to be stimulant and aromatic.
Has been used to relax spasms (especially in the digestive tract).
Has been taken as a digestive.
Has been used externally for cramps, poor circulation and aching joints.
Seeds are steeped in vegetable oil for external use (caution: photosensitivity).
Emulsion from the seeds has been used as an anti-spasmodic.
Seeds made into emulsion with milk for itch.
In Egypt the seeds are chewed for digestive difficulty, as a nervine, and as a breath freshner.

CULINARY:
The unripe seed pods (called musk okra) are eaten cooked as a vegetable, and used in soups as well as pickled. Young leaves and new shoots also eaten as a vegetable.
In Arab countries the mature seeds are added to coffee.
The dried seeds, or tinctures of the seeds, are used to flavor liqueurs and tobacco.
The distilled oil is costly to produce and is used to flavor baked goods, candy, soft drinks, although it is done on a very small scale. (Most of the oil being used in perfumery)
Used as a spice in the East.

CRAFT:
In Asia and Africa the seeds are used as jewelry. Seeds are also used as a potpourri fixative.

AROMATHERAPY:
The essential oil is used for anxiety and depression.

OTHER:
In Asia and Africa the seeds are powdered and rubbed onto the body and hair as a perfume and/or insect repellant. It is also believed to be an aphrodisiac. The bark is processed into fiber. The root mucilage is used as a sizing for paper. The flowers are used to flavor tobacco.





©2000 by Ernestina Parziale, CH

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