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Ganoderma tsugae



Ganoderma tsugae is a medicinal fungus with several biological activities [5] known as Hemlock varnish shelf mushroom [2,4], Lingzhi or Reishi [6], that usually grows in conifers, mainly in hemlocks [2], where its common name comes from.

It has been used as a folk remedy for the promotion of health and longevity in China and other oriental countries [5] and has recently been in the scope of scientists and researchers for its multiple medicinal properties and a source of active constituents that exert anti-angiogenic (avoids the growth of blood vessels) effects [1], something that can be used as a potential source for new anti-cancer medicines. Image: Ganoderma tsugae by Jason Hollinger under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0) 


Family: Ganodermataceae

Genus: Ganoderma

Common name: Hemlok varnish shelf mushroom, Sung-shan-ling-chih, Songshan lingzhi, Lingzhi, Reishi


Rafflesia arnoldii, the biggest flower on earth


Rafflesia arnoldii, commonly known as corpse flower, is the biggest flower on earth. It received its nickname "corpse flower" as a result of its characteristic odour.

There are approximately 17 different species of Rafflesia. Most of these Rafflesia species tend to grow in south-east Asia, mostly in Borneo, and most of them bloom in different shades of red, although some flowers appear pink or brown.

This parasitic plant shows no roots or leaves and radiates the smell of a decaying corpse. This attracts pollinators which in return pollinate the flower. The Rafflesia is the largest flower known on earth, measuring up to 90 cm across and having a weight up to 11 kg. Image: Rafflesia 3 by MaewNam under Creative Common license (CC BY-SA 2.0).


Family: Rafflesiaceae

Genus: Rafflesia

Common name: Corpse flower


Thyme better than benzoyl peroxide against acne



Thyme (Thymus vulgaris), a perennial herbaceous plant from the Lamiaceae family that grows up to approximately 40 cm tall [1] and is used nowadays as a flavoring agent of the Mediterranean diet. 

Thyme was used by the Greeks in their baths and by the Egyptians who more than 2000 years ago used it to embalm their ancestors, probably due to the amount of anti-microbial active constituents found on Thyme essential oils. 

This anti-microbial property is one of the most documented properties shared also with other essential oils as for example lavender essential oil [2], both of them active against multidrug resistant clinical strains of Escherichia coli bacteria [3,4]. Image left: Wild thyme (NH) by David Short under Creative Commons license (CC BY 2.0).


Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Thymus

Common name: Thyme


Horse chestnut



Aesculus hippocastanum (Horse chestnut), this perennial tree of about 20 to 30 meters tall, from which we can find many different species. The flowers of horse chestnut tree are very colourful and as you can see in the picture, they are disposed in very nice clusters. The name Hippocastanum derives from the Latin word for Horse chestnut [1]. 

In spite its popularity in some Mediterranean countries, where it is part of traditional recipes, horse chestnut has been proven to exert many health benefits. Scientist and laboratories have investigated some of its active constituents as aescin, a saponin that has been used to treat venous and microcirculatory problems, pro-anthocyanidin A-2, effective to lower cholesterol levels...etc. Let's see some of them. Image: See credits under ref. [14] below. 

WARNING: Horse chestnut is NOT EDIBLE!, see warning at the end of this page.


Family: Sapindaceae

Genus: Aesculus

Common name: Horse chestnut, Conker tree


Ayahuma Cannonball tree


Couroupita guianensis, a plant from the Lecythidaceae family commonly known as Ayahuma or Cannonball tree, is distributed in the tropical regions of northern South America and Southern Caribbean [1].

The evergreen tree is allied to the Brazil nut (Bertholletia excelsa) [5], and it is known as Cannonball tree because of its brown canon-ball-like fruits (see right image at the end of this article). The tree is quite common in India, where you can find it in places as Rajpipla, in Gujarat, a state in northwestern India, with four trees in the Indrajit-Padmini Mahal, better known as Vadia [6]. 

Among the many medicinal properties that this plant exerts we can mention its use to treat hypertension, tumours, pain, inflammatory processes, cold, stomach ache, skin diseases, malaria, wounds and toothache [1]. Image left: Cannonball tree flower by Steven Brewer under Creative Commons license (CC BY-SA 2.0).


Family: Lecythidaceae

Genus: Couroupita

Common name: Ayahuma, Cannonball Tree, Brazil nut, নাগেকশর, Nagakeshar, নাগািলংগম, Nagalingam