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Jabuticaba – Brazilian Grape Tree

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You may have heard the idiomatic phrase, “Sour Grapes” but the grapes that we are talking about are definitely not sour. They are the most easily accessible grapes ever, because no jumping or climbing the tree is required. Now where would you find one? As the name suggests the Brazilian Grape tree is found in the states of Minas Gerias and Sao Paulo, in the south of Brazil. Other areas where similar species of the tree are found are Argentine, Bolivia and Paraguay.

The most common name used for the tree is Jabuticaba. The other known names are Jaboticabeira, Jabotica, Guaperu, Guapuru, Sabará, Hivapuru and Ybapuru(Guarani). Its scientific name is Palinia Cauiflora and belongs to Myrtaceae family. “Jabuticaba” derived its name from the word Jabuti meaning tortoise in Tupian language and Caba meaning place. The other name, Ybapuru has been derived from Guarani language and means fruit producing a crunching sound when bitten.

Ordinary Jabuticaba Tree with no Flowers or Fruit

Ordinary Jabuticaba Tree with no Flowers or Fruit

So what do these trees look like? They are usually tall trees with a height ranging from 12 to 45 feet. Jabuticaba leaves are salmon-colored when young; as they mature they turn green in color. The white colored flowers are grown directly from the trunk of the tree just like all other cauliflorous plants. The tree usually bears flowers and fruits once or sometimes twice a year, but if it is irrigated continuously, flowers and fruits are borne all year round especially in tropical regions. It is a slow growing tree that requires moist and slightly acidic soil to ensure its best growth. However, these trees are adaptable to almost all kinds of soil; it can even grow satisfactorily on alkaline soils like beach-sand.

The tree can tolerate mild frosts and some of its species are more tolerant to cold temperatures. Most of the commercial cultivation taking place in Northern Hemisphere may result in very slow growth because the temperature requirements are not fulfilled. As mention before that Jabuticabas are slow growing trees, it may take 10 to 20 years to bear fruits if seeded and in case they are grafted the fruits may take 5 years to grow. Due to their slow growth they are often used as bonsai. The trees are highly intolerant of soils containing salt and even salt sprays may affect their growth. Though the trees can grow in conditions like droughts but would result in reduced fruit production and extensive irrigation would also be required in such areas.

The fruits grown on Jabuticaba tree can easily be mistaken with plums or red grapes; that’s how it got its name Brazilian Grape Tree. They are 3 to 4 cm in diameter usually with four large seeds. The fruits grow directly on the branches and main trunk that gives a distinctive look to the tree. The fruits have thick, purple skin that protects the sweet, gelatinous flesh that is pink or white in color. The fresh fruits only last for 3 to 4 days after being harvested. This tasty fruit is commonly available in the fruit markets of Brazil and are usually eaten fresh because of their short shelf life.

Jabuticaba Tree with Flowers

Jabuticaba Tree with Flowers, notice how the flowers are attached directly to the trunk

What are the health benefits of Jabuticaba fruit? The fruit has been able to gain as much popularity as grapes in the U.S. Since ancient times the sun dried skins of the Jabuticaba fruits are used for the treatment of various diseases such as asthma, hemoptysis, chronic inflammation of tonsils and diarrhea. The fruit is also believed to contain antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties. The sweet tasting fruit is now commonly being used in tarts and other baked products, jams, strong wines and other liqueurs. It is also used to make a refreshing summer drink which has a medicinal importance as well.

Jabuticaba Tree with Fruits

Jabuticaba Tree with Fruits which are also growing directly on the truck

Jabuticaba Tree with Ripened Fruits

Jabuticaba Tree with Ripened Fruits

The most amazing fact about this tree is that its fruits can be picked up straight from the trunk and eaten. You wouldn’t find fruits hanging on small branches but it would seem as if they are glued directly to the trunk and the big branches of the tree. Some viewers say that the fruits look like tiny insects crawling all over the tree. Also it is believed that it took thousands of years for the tree to evolve into the way it is today, enabling the small animals who were unable to climb the trees to have access to the fruit. These animals helped in increasing the population of the tree by scattering the seeds all over the forest.

If you ever get to visit South America make sure you take some time out to see these amazing trees. You can grow one too if you have a well heated greenhouse, though it will take a lot of years to grow but your effort would be worthwhile.

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Racetrack Playa – Death Valley California

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In the Eastern California lies the famous desert valley, The Death Valley. It is located in the Mojave Desert which is the driest land in North America and also the lowest. The area also holds record for highest air temperature i.e. 134 °F (56.7 °C) recorded on July 10, 1913 at Furnace Creek.

The valley has been inhabited by Timbisha tribe belonging to Native Americans for the past 1000 years. By that time the valley was also known as, “ Tümpisa” meaning “rock paint” in reference to the red ochre paint that is produced from clay found in that area.

In the year 1849, an English name, “Death Valley” was introduced during California Gold Rush. An amazing fact about the name of the valley is that prospectors and other people who crossed the valley in search of gold fields named it so, though only 1 death was recorded during the Gold Rush. Gold and silver were extracted during 1850s from the valley and later in 1880s borax was also discovered.

President Hoover in the year 1933 proclaimed Death Valley National monument as area under the Federal protection and this monument was designated as Death Valley National Park in year 1994, areas including Eureka and Saline Valley.

Sunset at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Sunset at Racetrack Playa, Death Valley

Nestled in the west of Death Valley National Park, between the Last Chance and Cottonwood ranges is the famous Racetrack Playa. Unlike any other racetrack this particular one contains a mystery within.

Why is it called Racetrack Playa? This area is famous for the scenic dry lakebed also called playa and sailing stones leaving track like imprints on the ground. It is a desert basin that temporarily serves as a lake that gets filled up with shallow water during rainy season and when the hot sun shines the water gets evaporated leaving behind a layer of soft smooth mud. Cracks appear as the mud dries out creating hexagonal mosaic patterns on the surface. These mosaics are almost an inch thick and 3 to 4 inches in diameter.

Racetrack playa lies 3608 feet above sea level. It is exceptionally flat as the northern and southern ends have only a difference of 1.5 inches in height. Ubhebe is the highest peak surrounding it which is 5,678 feet high. The playa is almost 2 miles in width and 3 miles long. The beige colored mud surrounding the area is believed to be at least 1000 feet thick.

The route to racetrack begins from Ubehebe Carter and high-clearance vehicles are suggested for drive as the road is rough and uneven. The desert is fragile and therefore it is prohibited to drive off-track; moreover tracks left by vehicles remain there for years. The only natural vegetation found on the way includes 30 feet tall, Joshua trees that are often confused to be cactus plants. It will take only 20 miles to reach Teakettle Junction from where a straight road leads to the Racetrack playa.

Racetrack Playa, Death Valley California

What fascinate tourists the most are the secretly moving rocks on the dry surface of the playa that leave a long trail behind them

What fascinate tourists the most are the secretly moving rocks on the dry surface of the playa that leave a long trail behind them, without any animal or human intervention. These rocks are believed to move once in every 2 to 3 years and tracks that are left behind last for at least 3 to 4 years. Some rocks are believed to travel more than 1500 feet far.

No one has ever been able to see the rocks in motion and neither has it been captured by camera. However, many assumptions have been drawn regarding the movements of these rocks.

Some researchers claim that rocks are moved by strong winds in winters reaching a speed of 90 mph. Also there is little rain in winters that moistens the clay, making it slippery and enabling the rocks to move. The winds are directed from southwest to northeast and thus helps support this hypothesis as most of the trails are parallel to this particular direction.

Another assumption involves accumulation of rain water in the lake bed and freezing at night time forming a thin sheet of ice. The rocks get embedded into these ice sheets and then strong winds drag them across the slippery surface of the playa.

The tracks formed by the moving rocks are either straight or curvy and sometimes two similar tracks are formed side by side, giving an impression as if they are made by racing cars. Most of the moving rocks are equal to the size of a loaf and weigh up to 25 to 30 pounds. The heaviest rocks among them weigh more than 700 pounds and require a wind with a speed of 150 mph to set it in motion.

There are still many commentators who claim that the photos of the moving rocks are nothing more but digital fakes. There are also some who associate it with supernatural powers.

The place also offers opportunities for hiking lovers; the old miner’s 6 miles long trail to Ubehebe Peak and having an elevation of 1800 feet is an option worthwhile. Also some spectacular views of Racetrack Playa can be observed a short walk away from Grandstand parking area.

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Chamarel – Mauritius

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Pack up your bags because we have a perfect destination for your next vacation. Mauritius is known for its charming island and is nonetheless a paradise on this earth. This breathtaking island lies in the center of the Indian Ocean and is blessed with natural beauty. You can find amazing hotels hidden under the shadow of the magnificent trees of the rainforest; you can just enjoy the sun shining on the sandy beaches or just discover the astonishing marine life under the deep blue ocean. The place offers a lot of recreational opportunities such as historical sites and cultural events. Though it is the most developed island among the Mascarene Islands yet it is different from typical beaches with white sand, luxury hotels and spas. Why it is paradise on earth because it has to offer something for every person coming from diverse backgrounds. The island is also famous for its variety of French, Chinese, Indian and African cuisines.

Mauritius is divided into nine districts, it consists of one city, four towns and 130 villages, out of these villages Chamarel is a must watch. The village is believed to be named after a Frenchman Charles Antoine de Chazal de Chamarel who lived in this village in 18th Century. Currently it has the lowest population i.e. only 700. The major attractions in this village are Seven Colored Earth, the Chamarel Falls and a park named Black River Gorges National Park.

Chamarel The Land Of Seven Colored Sand in Mauritius

Chamarel — The Land Of Seven Colored Sand

The Seven Colored Earth located in the south western part of Chamarel is famous for its colorful sand dunes. Since 1960s it has been successful in attracting tourists all over the world. We all have witnessed rainbows in sky but if you want to experience rainbow on ground then this is the place to be. There are a variety of colors of sand found in this area including red, purple, violet, brown, green, yellow and blue. The land derived its name from these seven colors. No natural calamity effects the colors of these sand dunes, neither these colors fade nor do these sand dunes erode. All they do is bless the viewers with their magnificent views.

How did these sand dunes come into existence? They were created by the decomposition of volcanic rocks also known as, “Basalt”; the volcanic rocks then cooled down over time and further the weather changes gave them a shape of small dunes. It is believed that Iron sesquioxides are responsible for red color whereas Aluminium sesquioxides are responsible for purple and bluish tones of colors.

Another mysterious fact about the sand dunes is that if you’ll try to mix all the colorful sands they will again get separated into different layers of colors. The most dramatic view of these sand dunes can be observed at the time of sunrise. You can also buy some colorful sand from Curio shop and share this unique gift with your friends and family.

Rhumerie de Chamarel Mauritius

Rhumerie de Chamarel is famous for its sugar canes, pineapples and other tropical fruits lined along the road leading to it

Close to the Seven colored Earth lies the famous Rhumerie de Chamarel. This Rhumerie is famous for its sugar canes, pineapples and other tropical fruits lined along the road leading to it. The guests can encompass a guided tour to the distillery and also benefit from a chance of tasting the best quality rum of Mauritius. Chamarel is also well known for its coffee, which has been grown in the area since 18thCentury introduced by French East India Company and is only available at Café Chamarel.

The Chamarel Falls is another amazing gift of nature bestowed upon this beautiful village. It has been formed by River St. Denis and has a height of 272ft. The falls are surrounded by thick vegetation and can also be viewed from Black River National Park. The Chamarel Falls are claimed to be the, “Best waterfalls in Mauritius”. You can also choose to have a look at the waterfalls from the upper deck located at Seven Colored Earth reserve. A swim in the shallow water at the bottom of the falls can also be enjoyed.

Mauritius Chamarel Falls

The Chamarel Falls is another amazing gift of nature bestowed upon this beautiful village

The Black River Gorges National Park is the largest park of Mauritius and extends over an area of 6,754 hectares. If you are a seeker of natural beauty then this park is the place to be and is a best choice for hiking and bird watching. The world’s rarest forest is also located in its vicinity. Moreover the hiking trip in this park also includes complimentary picnic lunch and the entire package is for 55 Euro per person.

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How to Grow Rainbow Rose

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The rainbow rose is a rose which has had its petals artificially colored.

 

These highly colorful “Happy Flowers” have been developed by a 41 years old Dutch businessperson, Mr. Van de Werken who dyes each bloom in colors of the rainbow. Dyes used in this process are extracted from natural sources i.e., plants which are latter absorbed by the flowers with their growth and get the same colors. Original Rainbow Rose is of seven colors of the rainbow and is the most popular rose in this category. However there are also other variants possible with combinations of red, pink, yellow, green and blue. Other color combinations are also possible, though black and white are impossible to make.

How To Grow:

The idea is to split the stem into several channels and dip each one in a different colored dye. Latter followed by a special process, that exploits the rose’s natural growth process – by which water is drawn up the stem – supplies and monitors the amount of dyes that reach each of the flower petal which results into a multicolored spectacular rose.

The best cultivator found after a lot of research was Vendela Rose, which is the only one that absorbs all the different colorants perfectly. Vendela Rose grows in the Netherlands, Colombia and Ecuador and is not scented. Beside roses, other cut flowers like the chrysanthemum, carnation, hydrangea and some species of orchids can also be colored using the same method.

Mr. Van de Werken, a successful producer of these multicolored flowers, is a flower company owner close to Den Bosch in Southern Holland. When he was questioned about this amazing idea of growing rainbow flowers, he answered that we were selling single colored flowers but the market for them took a dip which made me and my business mates started looking for some alternative which is equally acceptable and different. We finally came up with the idea of multicolored flowers.

The rainbow rose is a rose which has had its petals artificially colored.

These Happy Rose flowers can also be ordered from www.valueflora.com and are available for delivery within UK only. Single Happy Rose is worth £19.99 and a bunch of 12 flowers with free vase and chocolates is of £59.99

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Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

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Unbelievable but true, a dump being reproduced into a landmark called the Glass Beach. The name of the beach speaks for itself as its shores are entirely covered with colourful translucent glass. Undoubtedly, it is a miracle of nature how something so worthless has been turned into something so extraordinary. The evolution took decades and then resulted in to a site worth viewing.

The Glass beach is a part of Mackerricher State Park, situated near Fort Bragg, California. It is located 150 miles outside San Francisco. It is also believed that at some point in the past it belonged to Mendocino Indian Reservation. Years back in the early 20th Century the area was under the ownership of a saw mill named as, “Union Lumber Company”.

Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

Translucent pebbles merge together to give a spectacular view of the beach

The local residents used to throw their garbage near the cliff, as they found dumping to be much easier task than the usual taking out and cleaning process of the trash. The garbage disposal included home appliances, wasted glass products and vehicles. At that time the entire cliff was covered with heaps of garbage and thus the beach acquired its name as the, “The Dumps”. It is said that the dumps reached to the height of 30 feet and sometimes the piles of trash were reduced by burning.

Then in 1967 the issue came under consideration of the Water Resources Control Board of California State and city leaders, who took initiatives to clean up the mess. The area was sealed and cleaning programs were introduced to cover the damage. However, it wasn’t an easy job to remove the heaps of debris; thanks to Mother Nature for undertaking half of the work. The large pieces of garbage were extracted while the left over pieces of glass were broken, smoothened and rounded by the pounding and smashing waves. These smoothened glass particles then settled along the sea shore in a number of millions, which today adds glory to the magnificent beach.

The name thus changed from, “The Dump” to what we currently know as, “The Glass Beach”. It was determined by the private property owner in 1998 that the Glass Beach should be given to the public sector, so with the help of California Coastal Conservancy and California Integrated Waste Management Board a 5 year cleanup process took place and finally the property was sold to the state. Later in October, year 2002, it was made a part of MacKerricher State Park, after being bought by the California Department of Park and Recreation, including the 20 acres area surrounding the beach. In total 38 acres area was bought.

There isn’t a color of glass that cannot be seen on this beach; there are shades from light to deep green, some pieces are in beautiful shades of blue, and then there are also pieces of glass available in shades of white, red and brown. All of these colorful translucent pebbles merge together to give a spectacular view.

This beach is not one of its’ kind, in fact, there are three other beaches similar to it. One in California by the name of Benicia, another one is the Bay of Hanapepe in Hawaii and the third one is known to be at Guantanamo Bay. All of these beaches are a result of human negligence, whereas the nature has proven to be the savior of the environment and has helped resolve this disaster created by humans.

The Glass Beach has been successful to win fame within a period of few years as it is attracting a large number of tourists every year. Way back in time, people wanted to dump their glass products on this shore, now they try to get one of these pieces so that they may take them home as a souvenir. Its’ ironic but true that once it became illegal to dispose the glass on the shore and now removing it is a crime. However, there is an Annual Glass Festival that takes place every year on Memorial Day weekend known as the, “Fort Bragg Sea Glass Festival”.

There are several plants’ species found near the Glass Beach, one such specie is Menzies’ Wallflower which has been listed as endangered, on federal levels in California.

Glass Beach – Fort Bragg, California

Glass Beach is a blessing of nature and contains a message within itself

Besides the view of The Glass Beach, the sounds produced by the glass pebbles while being washed away by the gentle waves adds to the serenity of the environment. It is an ideal spot for those who want to escape from the city noise and just want to kick back and relax. Surely, Glass Beach is a blessing of nature and contains a message within itself that if we try to protect our nature, even “The Dumps” can be turned into something beautiful like, “The Glass Beach”.