A very good friend of mine gave me three stems that she had obtained from her father for me to add to my collection of medicinal plants and herbs. Planting the stems was an exercise in caution. It was quite difficult to handle the stems as they were covered with sharp, pointy, needles that can stick into you easily. I received a couple of jabs when I was planting them and yes, it did feel like a sharp needle sticking into you. Being from the cactus family but a tropical plant as opposed to the normal dessert cactus, it loves the sun and the rain but does well in soil with at least 50% sand and 50% organic soil.
|Four buds in bloom|
This plant can grow to over 20m tall. Periodic trimming of it will enable you to control the height of the plants whilst encouraging it to "bush out". I enjoy watching how the flower changes from its bud form to a beautiful, striking red-orange or vermillion colored petals. Sometimes, the buds are in multiples and sometimes, single. Due to its appearance, I find that it makes a colorful addition to my herb section and can add beauty and color to your gardens to. I often wonder where the name Bintang Tujuh comes from and then I started counting the number of leaves the level below the flowers. Guess what? There are seven leaves!
For medicinal purposes, the leaves are eaten raw, normally two to three young leaves a day. It has a creamy taste, neither sweet, salty or sour. In my research, I found that some articles indicate that it is bitter in taste but I have not found it to be so. Personally, I consume 2-3 raw leaves about 3 times a week for general well-being - another reason why I prohibit usage of pesticides and herbicides on the farm. These leaves are a definite positive addition to my "snack" list as I walk around the farm.
It is also a great addition to salads, adding some crunch. It can also be blended with other items to create a health drink. It also produces an edible fruit that is green in colour which changes to light yellow as it ripens but do not be fooled, it remains to very sour.
Updated: August 20, 2015