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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Where is my Spilanthes oleracea when I need him?

The unusual looking plant in the photograph which  posted above is a Spilanthes oleracea plant. Its flowers resemble pimento olives and it is somewhat of a funky plant to have in one's garden. (I can just imagine the Spilanthes oleracea plant saying 'what do you mean by funky?' — if he is anything like my Physocarpus opulifolius aka Coppertina Treewho took homage at being called Copper-Tone — not by yours truly by the way — and took it upon himself to express these thoughts in a blog post which you may refer to by clicking here.)

Whether you perceive the Spilanthes oleracea plant to be funky or not, it does provide a unique purpose to one's garden as it is a documented fact that when one chews on the leaves, one experiences a numbing effect on the mouth. 

According to an herb guide (source can be found by clicking here), "a decoction or infusion of the leaves is recommended for stammering, toothache, stomatitis, and throat complaints," and that eating a whole flower bud results in an extremely strong tingling sensation accompanied by excessive saliva production."

In 2006, I had a Spilanthes oleracea plant in my terrace garden as pictured below:

Patricia Youngquist uses words and images to tell stories about her passions. Based in New York, she currently is authoring a series of nature books on birds of the city. Now in Apple’s iBooks store @
I was not taking many pictures or blogging during that time, but I can assure you that he can be seen in the far right hand corner where the purple arrow is pointing (on a direct diagonal from the SODAS sign which I only recently removed from my urban terrace garden, a gesture that I wrote about in a previous blog entry that you may refer to by clicking here).

The normally perennial Spilanthes oleracea plant, in the zone where I live and have my terrace garden is an annual. Therefore, I am not always able to find them in any of  the green-makets when growing season arrives; hence, I have not had one in my garden for a number of years. However, the Spilanthes oleracea plant is on my mind today, as I am scheduled to have a tooth extraction this afternoon —an unfortunate necessity precipitated by its being fractured.
When you are a child, you receive money for losing a tooth via the tooth fairy, but when you are an adult, you pay money — a lot of money. Money that is not easy to come by, especially in this economic downturn, but, fortunately for me, is exactly why an empathetic neighbor is loaning yours truly the money in order for me to have my tooth — which is fractured — extracted this afternoon. I am not only dismayed at the prospect of this dental procedure; I am petrified. Even though as a child I did receive a few coins under my pillow for losing a tooth, in attempt to make it a positive experience, the losing of the tooth was always fraught with fear. 

This is because when I was in elementary school, and my tooth became loose, close family friends threatened to tie one end of a string to my loose tooth, and then tie the other end to a door knob, then slam the door in hopes that the tooth would come out. If that did not work; the option was pliers. To this day, despite my having undergone numerous, and often painful, medical procedures due to my having Neurofibromatosis Type-One, dental pain and dental work send me into a panic.

tried to share my anxiety by phoning someone I know named Terry, who, simply said, "I've had eight teeth extracted, including permanent," and she hung up the phone. A closer friend told me that "there are worse things than losing a tooth," and I agree with her. 

I certainly have had worse things happen to me, my family, my friends, and I am well aware of the "worse things" — far worse things that are happening throughout the world; still, I find myself in the need of some consolation and comfort in dealing with my physical and emotional pain in dealing with this eminent procedure. 

So I ask, where is my little ol' plant-friend — the one who looks like a pimento olive — when I need him? The friend I am referring to, of course, is the Spilanthes oleracea plant pictured above in the photograph at the top of this blog entry and the plant that I have been discussing. However, despite its proven ability to relieve tooth-ache pain, I confess that I do not find eating the leaves of plants appealing whatsoever. 

This is mostly because I enjoy taking in their beauty, and could not think of eating them — a fact that I have expressed regarding the eating of other plants — in a number of blog entries, most recently ones on Anethum graveolens (Dill), and Tropaelum majus (Nasturtium), (posts that you may refer to by clicking here and here respectively.) 

However, perhaps, had I not just taken in the quirky nature of my Spilanthes oleracea plant, and eaten it in a salad instead, I might not be suffering so much today. 

There are even recipes for using this salad such as the one I've posted below.

Spilanthes Salad:

1/4 cup Spilanthes leaves (Spilanthes oleracea)

1/2 cup New Zealand spinach (Tetragonia tetragoniodes)

2 cups Swiss chard leaves (Beta vulgaris var. cicla)

2 cups lettuce leaves

1 tablespoon chopped salad burnet (Sanguisorba minor)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic chives (Allium tuberosum)
Rinse all the ingredients to remove any dirt or insects that may be present. Towel dry or use a salad spinner to throughly dry all ingredients. Tear the larger leaves into bite size pieces then add all the ingredients to a large bowl and toss well.

Salad Dressing:
2 cloves garlic minced
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespon freshly grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl. Prior to serving the salad drizzle the dressing over the top and toss to evenly coat all the leaves.

The salad and dressing recipe posted above is from information found in the link mentioned in the second paragraph of this post, however, I confess I have not tried this particular salad.

What I can say about the Spilanthes oleracea, from my experience, is that its quirky flowers added a sense of humor to my garden in those earlier garden years, but, as for chewing on them for numbness, I'd rather achieve that by sipping from a glass of chilled une robe de vignes, the Loire wine, or induldging in White Knights on the rocks, with a splash — just a splash of cranberry juice and a twist of lemon.

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